First of all, my thanks to everyone for assisting our students over the past week in getting back to campus, getting into classes and dorms, and getting caught up as we all negotiated two-foot blizzards, ice and rain storms, and just generally blustery weather. All of it meant we saw the most snowfall ever in the month of January (which I guess gives us bragging rights all across Maine and New England!), but meant for an especially crazy start of the semester. Bad weather is never welcome, but this was especially untimely, so my special appreciation to everyone in helping all of our students, returning and new, get situated.
Regarding new students, we have had a particularly healthy cohort of spring students—it was 70 and counting as of last Tuesday, which is more than we’ve seen in over five years. That includes both transfers from community colleges and sister institutions, as well as first time enrollees, and adult learners in our YourPace programs. And they include business majors, elementary and secondary education, psychology, biology, English, criminal justice, and many others. This is a much welcome continuation of the momentum we’ve seen with increased enrollments these past two years—and a 43% increase from last spring’s admits!
And speaking of majors, keep in mind that we are adding two more majors as of Fall 2019: Accounting and Cybersecurity. Accounting actually returns to our roster as a major, having been suspended several years ago. As a program that is in demand both regionally and nationally, it made good sense to ensure that our students could complete a four year degree (rather than just a concentration in Business Administration) and that our YourPace degree-completion students would have it as an option as well. Cybersecurity, of course, is one of the fastest growing professions in demand around the country as well as here in Maine, with literally thousands of jobs opening in New England alone this coming year. UMPI will be well positioned to assist Aroostook County as well as Maine and the entire nation by offering this major starting next fall. And look for further additions coming soon as well!
In addition, construction for expanding our BSN and other health programming space, having received our $4.5 million from the passage of the bond last November. We’re looking to welcome over 30 new nursing students in Fall 2019 as a result. So look for construction and improvements in both Weiden and Folsom Halls this coming year!
Speaking of improvements, our YourPace degree-completion programs in competency-based education look to expand into six more majors over the next year and a half. Each of these will build off our existing majors in programs such as Psychology, History/Political Science, Education, Professional Communication, and Criminal Justice. But a competency-based program ensures that working professionals have the opportunity to complete degrees and advance their careers in ways that meet their life’s needs and busy schedules. With over 200,000 people in Maine alone who have started but not finished degrees, such programs are absolutely essential to the growth of our state’s economy. This is just another way in which UMPI is leading the state in terms of higher education: from our Free for Four tuition programs for eligible Mainers, to the most competitive financial aid packaging in Maine (and New England, for the matter) for students across the country, to offering all students the opportunity to participate in internships and research projects that help us ensure them employment or placement in graduate programs upon graduation.
Finally, my thanks to all who were able to come out to support our basketball teams playing in Weiden gymnasium this January break. We saw some amazing crowds and some even more fantastic performances from our players. Shyquinn Dix has averaged 28 points per game and received the NAC Player of the Week; the women then defeated MMA at home for their first win against the Mariners in eleven years, with Rhylee Wright scoring 15 over all (and 50% of her 3 point shots) and Hunter Mercier 13 points while playing almost all 40 minutes —and this with MMA ranked second in the conference. (I also heard a story that the Lady Owls put on hold the celebration of the Mariner’s coach 300th win and MMA had to stick that cake in a freezer…but that could just be a cheeky rumor!). And then the Men swept Lyndon (the non-Johnson half of Northern Vermont) this weekend, with Wil Griffiths scoring a career high 25 points in one game, Shyquinn Dix scoring 28 in the other, and Griffin Guerrette scoring 35 between the two. Hope to see you all at the upcoming home games and at our spring sports, who are getting ready for their own seasons!
Again, thanks to everyone for helping see us through this past week’s weather—I’m sure this means clear sailing ahead!