Prospective USM president Glenn Cummings met with university leaders last Thursday to discuss how he’d spend his presidency, should he be chosen for the job.
Cummings said he is “a product of Maine.” A 12th generation Mainer, he comes from a line of lobstermen, fishermen and his mother worked at Shaw’s for years. He is the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“USM gives opportunity to people who would not normally have that opportunity,” said Cummings.
He has been an adjunct professor of economics at USM and is currently serving as University of Maine at Augusta’s president. Cummings was appointed to the Department of Education by Barack Obama where he served in Washington, D.C. for a year. He also served as Speaker of the House in the Maine House of Representatives for six years.
Cummings views his background as a teacher and administrator as an asset and an ability to work both sides of the aisle.
“I have no intention of being a patsy for either side,” Cummings said, noting that he understands how to play the balancing act between advocating for the teachers and getting business done on the administrative side.
“I will help us stabilize and ignite enrollment to stop this downward spiral,” said Cummings.
Right now the University of Maine System gives more money to Orono over USM and spreads it around the seven UMS campuses.
“The seven sisters form is not friendly to USM,” said Cummings. “USM should be given a bigger piece of the funds.”
“A dollar spent in Portland has a multiplying effect that ricochets around the community more than Fort Kent or Presque Isle,” said Cummings. “I’m not going to concede on this.”
Student attendance at the meeting was sparse. Lillian Harris, a counseling graduate student said she was “just curious” about the future president. She went to undergraduate school at McGill in Montreal but chose USM for graduate school because of its intimate size. Harris thinks the next president should “convince the Maine government that USM is important,” and that “there’s value in education.”
“I’ve gotten a lot out of USM and I want other people to,” Harris said.
If Cummings had been president during the budget turmoil that saw over 50 faculty get fired and over a hundred staff, he said he wasn’t sure the cuts could have been avoided but faculty would have been the last to go.
“We need to protect our faculty,” said Cummings.
According to Cummings, he would have made sure to have a teach-out plan in place for those students in the programs that had been cut.
Cummings referred to last years cuts as “shortsighted decision making,” and hinted at possibly bringing some majors back.
“Whether it’s me as new president or someone else, they’re going to try to bring back biosciences,” Cummings said noting we have major bioscience industries at home in the Portland area.
Eve Raimon, a professor of English, addressed the rise of part-time teachers on campus and thought there might only be full time tenured teachers at UMF and Orono.
Cummings replied adjuncts are fine but USM is not a community college. “We need full time faculty here at USM teaching and leading research,” said Cummings.
In his pitch to faculty Cummings told them, “I’m not making the argument that you should pick me because I’m from Maine. I know how good you are. You are the heart of the university.”
Cummings mentioned he couldn’t name the president of his undergraduate school but could name three professors that made a difference in his life.
Cummings’ vision of the “metro university” would have seen the economics department at USM working on the budget. He also would like to pair with the Council on International Educational Exchange, a non-profit based in Portland that facilitates study abroad programs, which could increase our international student population. But first, Cummings said he would like to attract “new Mainers” noting the large immigrant population around the Portland area.
“Recruit them before you go overseas,” said Cummings.“USM has a great story and I want to help tell it.”
He added that, working together, the USM community can turn around the aforementioned “downward spiral” because the university is already “great.”
“I don’t want to be anywhere else. I don’t want to be a governor or chancellor. I’ll be here for 10-20 years, if you’ll have me,” said Cummings. “I want to be here.”
Bar and clubs are usually the stereotypical hot spots to pick up women and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, the nightlife in Portland is sure to be filled with thirsty dudes looking for some last minute love. But how do women feel about that?
Based on the experiences of several female students the general consensus is grim: a good portion of men are over-aggressive creeps when it comes to their strategies for scoring dates.
“I’m sure every girl has been hit on, one way or another, in a creepy fashion,” said Nicole Downing, a sophomore art major.
According to Downing, “creepy behavior,” can be anything from prolonged stares, the use of pickup lines, to unwanted touching and grabbing. From the accounts of female students, these behaviors happen far too often and can discourage girls from feeling comfortable in the dating scene.
“Men suck,” said Sarah Morrell, a marketing and business management graduate. “The best ones are either taken or gay.”
“Straight staring makes me uncomfortable,” said Andreanna Anderson, a former USM student. “One of the worst things is when a guy is just staring at me from across the bar.”
Anderson said that once while out in the Old Port, she had a random guy that she never met before come up to her and immediately start groping.
“He just walked up and grabbed my ass and casually walked away,” said Anderson. “I wouldn’t go into the bars looking for my future husband.”
Anderson considers this behavior disrespectful and attributes it to an overabundance of male confidence. Anderson is quick to point out these kind of men, because according to her they are usually the ones that will call you “babe,” or “sexy,” before even learning your name. For her, men that employ that tactic are an instant turn off.
“I really hate it when guys come at me super aggressively and over confident,” said Anderson. “I don’t like guys that think they are the hottest thing on the planet.”
Abby Kohle, a senior communication major, also has had some experience with aggressive men and said that only when she tells pursuers that she has a boyfriend, will they leave her alone.
“It’s really degrading because they’re not respecting me, they’re respecting my boyfriend,” said Kohle. “I know a lot of girls that lie about having a boyfriend just to get them to back off.”
As far as pet names, like “baby,” “sugar” and “sexy,” Kohle considers them all to be disgraceful. According to Kohle, if a man doesn’t ask for her name, or address her by her name, she ignores them. Kohle described the men that employ that kind of approach as cocky instead of genuinely confident.
“Confidence is something everyone should have inherently,” said Kohle. “But when you talk to a girl you should give her your attention, instead of making it all about you and getting her to like you.”
Pickup lines were cited as particularly cringe-worthy methods of seducing women by nearly all the women interviewed. Kohle finds them demeaning to her gender.
“I was at LFK once and met a guy outside while smoking a cigarette,” said Kohle. “The first thing he said was, ‘I’m Alec, a lot of people hate me.’ It was the worst pickup line ever.”
“[Pickup lines] work for men some of the time,” said Rachel Zahn, a music graduate. “I’ve always thought it was cheesy, but some girls who don’t get much attention go for it.”
Zahn thinks that crude, lewd and cheesy behavior might be because some men go through a lot of rejection and don’t know how else to act around women.
“Going through a lot of rejection isn’t even an excuse for the behavior,” said Zahn. “I’ve learned to not even put myself in those situations, it isn’t my duty to take responsibility for those actions.”
Despite the cheesiness of pickup lines, some girls enjoy them, but only if they’re humorous enough.
“I kind of like them because they make me chuckle,” said Anderson. “A sense of humor can go a long way with me.”
Rylee Doiron, a musical theatre graduate, told a bar story about a guy who improvised a line based on the drink that she ordered. The guy approached her, looked at her whiskey drink, and said ‘Lady after my own heart, drinks her scotch neat.’
“I had to give it to him that he paid attention to what I was drinking and found a common ground that we could easily make conversation from,” said Doiron. “My good experiences with guys at bars have only been when they actually notice me and say something that doesn’t have anything to do with my appearance.”
According to Doiron, as long as a man is respectful and treats her like a human being instead of just a piece of meat, then she’s more inclined to like them.
Men like Brandon Owens, a recreation and sports management graduate, and his friend Cody Rohde, a senior sports management major agree and understand that women usually have a “wall of caution” around them when talking to strangers.
“Girls are on their guard a bit more,” said Owen. “Men don’t know what it’s like on their end.”
Owens said that if somebody expresses disinterest in him at a bar, then he immediately stops flirting to avoid coming across as weird or creepy.
While Rohde spoke out against pick up lines and simply hitting on girls, he did say that he’s been persistent on occasion when trying to win a girl’s favor.
“I try to read the vibe a girl is throwing at me,” said Rohde. “If she says no in a serious manner, I’ll back off. But if it’s a playful no, then I might try to persist.”
Anderson offered some advice to anyone looking for a Valentine’s love within Portland’s bar and club scene and said to approach a girl and compliment her, but about something other than her physicality.
“If she’s wearing a nice dress, say something about it, because that girl probably spent a long time picking that dress out,” said Anderson. “All ladies love compliments.”
Over priced roses and heart shaped pieces of plastic have adorned department store shelves, signifying that the ancient fertility festival of Lupercalia is almost upon us. But of course, most modern Americans know it as Valentine’s Day.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 62% of American adults celebrated the holiday of love and romance last year, but how many are aware of its pagan and later Christian origins?
After stopping to ask this question to about 25 students in the Woodbury Campus Center last week, the air of uncertainty surrounding the holiday’s beginning was tangible. Most students responded with, “I think it has something to do with St. Valentine,” but not much else.
“It was a religious day right?” said Christina Cook, a first year social work graduate student. “Like St. Valentine did some stuff at one time. I’m sorry, I don’t really know.”
“The only thing that comes to my mind is baby cupid shooting arrows,” said freshman international business major Rona Sayed. “I don’t think most students have an idea about the religious foundings of certain holidays.”
Despite the cute and loving nature of the holiday in its current form, back in Roman times, it was a different sort of celebration. Lupercalia, as it was called back then, was celebrated by sacrificing animals and whipping naked women with their hides in a drunken revelry. The holiday didn’t get its name until 400 A.D. Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 the day to honor two men, both named Valentine, who were executed by the Romans 100 years prior. The Pope wanted a Christian holiday to honor the church but didn’t want to upset the then huge populace of pagans. So Pope Gelasius simply changed the name of Lupercalia to Valentine’s Day in homage to the two bishops who were imprisoned and tortured in Rome before they died as martyrs. However, according to the Roman Martyrology, there’s only one person listed as Saint Valentine.
By the medieval era of the late 1300s the holiday was first associated with love and romance, spurred on by the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare. But according to Libby Bischof, a history professor at USM, the Valentine’s Day rituals and symbols that we’re used to didn’t really gain popularity until the 17th and 18th century. After Europe embraced the idea of sending each other Valentines, the tradition carried over to America.
“As you might imagine, the British colonists brought over the tradition of card exchange with them to the New World,” said Bischof.
Bischof collects vintage Valentine’s Day cards from the late 19th century for personal pleasure and for her history students to examine. Bischof said that it is evident from her historic collection where we get our classic symbols of cherubs, hearts, flowers and doves. The cards were highly ornate, with soft tones of pinks, reds and blues and layered with lace and images of Victorian era scenes.
“Much like the women of the time were overdressed with ruffles and lace, these Valentine’s Day cards were way overdone,” said Bischof. “But I love card exchange.”
Bischof said that people living in the Victorian era, which lasted from 1837-1901, were more sentimental than the current generation and spent their Valentine’s Day sending gifts and detailed artistic stationaries to not just their romantic desires, but also to their friends and family.
“Today the honor of ‘my Valentine’ is usually reserved for somebody’s boyfriend or girlfriend,” said Bischof. “Friendships were more intimate back then.”
From the pop up art work, to the romantic verses and handwritten notes to even the envelopes they were sent in, these messages of love followed a structured format, but without lacking in creativity and meaning.
“In the 1700s there were actual manuals and coded social behaviors on what you should put into a Valentine’s Day card,” said Bischof.
Even the direction and angle of the stamp carried some sort of sentiment and meaning. For example a crooked stamp might mean that your intentions are to transcend being friends and start courting.
The art of the handwritten note and the act of making things from scratch in general is something that Bischof believes has for the most part, taken a back seat in modern society.
“Times have changed,” said Bischof. “There’s no handmade touch anymore, when taking the time and sentiment is important. It would be a nice thing if we could do more of it, but it’s gone by the wayside a little, partially from laziness and partially the demands of our time.”
According to Bischof, Valentine’s Day rituals have altered to a point where the holiday is more commercialized and people feel pressured to spend a lot of their money fueling a billion dollar industry. And while according to U.S. Postal Service, 150 million Valentine’s Day cards were sent through the mail last year, most were mass produced.
“Nowadays I’m sure it’s more common to make a Facebook post and tag your significant other in it,” said Bischof. “There was more genuine caring behind the Victorian practices, that may have just been filtered out now.”
Emily Maynard, a community planning and development graduate, used to keep fostering the older card exchange tradition as an R.A. on campus by leaving Valentine’s Day cards under residents’ doors. She believes that handmaking a card and sending it through the mail shows a lot of initiative, but is simply a hobby for some people.
“But that card in the mail has definitely been almost phased out by modern society,” said Maynard. “My parent will send me a card. But I probably won’t send one back.”
“I might send out one card,” said Brandon Owens, a recreation and sports management graduate. “If I had time, I’d try to make something. Creativity does mean more.”
Owens and his friend Cody Rohde, fellow sports management major, said they plan on watching Netflix on Valentine’s Day and think that people view the holiday as just another “Hallmark holiday but don’t really understand it.”
Today the holiday has strayed far from its dark Roman origins and Victorian era days of highly cordial but sincere rituals, into a big, money churning business. According to CNN, two years ago Americans spent more than four billion dollars on just candy and roses and $18.6 billion overall, by the time the day of love appeared on the calendar.
However according to the same survey, 85% of men and women in America say sex is an important part of their Valentine’s Day celebrations, so modern observers of the holiday hanker back to some of their ancient roots.
The first of the three prospective USM presidents, Jose “Zito” Sartarelli, met with student leaders, faculty and staff Thursday to introduce himself and answer questions about his vision for USM.
“Job one is enrollment. You have to fix enrollment. Job two is fundraising. Fundraising takes time, three to five years,” Sartarelli said. “USM has great bones but absolutely needs a new vision.”
Throughout the day Sartarelli was vocally adamant about recruitment and getting enrollment up by marketing to students.
“That dream of ‘build it and they will come’ – that doesn’t work anymore, you have to go out and sell it,” said Sartarelli. “We have to sell abroad and nationally – make our classrooms more diverse.”
“I have coined a slogan already. ‘USM Rising.’ Rising enrollment. Rising community engagement,” Sartarelli said.
The student senate ate lunch with Sartarelli and were all concerned about what his take of the “metropolitan university model” would be. Sartarelli’s vision entails not just reaching out to local businesses but a global reach. He would like to raise our student population from hovering around 7,000 to 10,000 and have international students be 10% of that makeup.
“One thing is for sure, we have to get our numbers up, it doesn’t matter what a metropolitan university is,” Sartarelli said.
Sartarelli wants to use his diverse international background working for global companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myer Squid, running their Latin American and Asia-Pacific departments.
Sartarelli is currently West Virginia University’s Chief Global Officer and Milan Puskar Dean of the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. He grew up on a farm in Brazil and until the age of seven read by the light of a kerosene lamp. Sartarelli finished high school in Texas and is still close friends with his host family.
“I am the epitome of ‘It takes a village.’ I’ve been helped by a lot of people in my life,” Sartarelli said.
If he was president six months or two years ago, he was asked, would he have gutted the university of professors and courses? Sartarelli said he didn’t like to answer hypothetical questions but he did say when you have a university such as ours that has 75% of its money connected to people, someone will be affected.
“If enrollment doesn’t go up there’s going to be more cuts in the future,” said Sartarelli. “For the greater good of the entity, it takes some pain.”
Megean Bourgeois, an undergraduate voting member of the presidential search board, broached the question of firing tenured professors by voicemail. Sartarelli said there needs to be dignity when releasing professors.
“It’s the termination of a dream. It’s shocking. There needs to be dignity and it must be done face to face,” said Sartarelli.
President David Flanagan announced today that he will be donating half of his annual salary to the USM Foundation, pledging $100,000 to be put toward student scholarships.
“We understand how vital it is for all of us connected to USM–faculty, staff, administration, alumni and friends–to be engaged in supporting our students and strengthening our role in the wider metropolitan community,” said Flanagan in a press release distributed on Monday morning.
The donated funds will be used to provide students with immediate need-based scholarships and to create a new endowed fund called the David and Kaye’ 73 Flanagan Scholarship Fund, named after Flanagan and his wife.
“Kaye and I both came from modest economic backgrounds, and we know first-hand how important scholarship financial assistance was to us personally,” said David Flanagan. “We’re committed to helping bring the opportunity of a college education into reach for more Maine families.”
“I am proud of my USM education and am happy to contribute to its ongoing mission of affordable quality education for families like ours,” added Kaye Flanagan.
According to the release, this donation was sparked by another substantial donation to USM.
Richard “Doc” Costello, former USM Athletic Director, and his wife Melissa Costello, former chair of the School of Education, have announced that they will bequeath $750,000 to the University of Southern Maine Foundation for improvements to the Costello Sports Complex, the Gorham campus athletics facility named after the couple.
“We are thrilled with this wonderful gift from Melissa and Doc Costello. Between the two of them, they had a huge impact on USM during their careers, particularly in the School of Education, where they both had faculty appointments,” said Cecile Aitchison, president of the USM Foundation. “As a coach and a teacher, Doc supported students in and out of the classroom.”