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USM College of Management & Human Service Recognizes Community Engagement

The USM College of Management and Human Service presented community engagement awards to programs, which in partnership with the external community, enrich the educational experience while helping to improve the region’s economy and quality of life.

“The professional, academic and research programs in our college are well positioned to partner and engage with our communities,” said Dean of the USM College of Management and Human Service Joseph McDonnell.  “Ten programs were recognized for their innovation and impact on the community that advance USM’s role as a metropolitan university.” The USM College of Management and Human Service includes the Muskie School, the School of Business, the School of Education and Human Development and the School of Social Work.

The first two awardees were created in response to sectors of the community, which approached the university and expressed a need for the programs.

1. Thanks to financial support from the insurance industry, three risk management courses were developed initially to provide continuing education credits for those who hold Maine insurance producer’s licenses. Today, the Risk Management & Insurance program in the School of Business offers a full, four-year degree in risk management; provides a risk management certificate; face-to-face courses for MEMIC, Maine’s largest workers compensation insurer; and student-led risk management audits of local businesses. Contact: Dana Kerr, faculty, School of Business, email: dkerr@usm.maine.edu, phone: 780-4059.

2. USM’s undergraduate degree program in Tourism & Hospitality began two years ago with the advocacy and support of Maine’s tourism industry and now works with 30 different community organizations, 15 different towns, and eight USM partners.  Students in the program have created tourism development plans in partnership with regional councils and local governments. They also assessed marketing materials and customer service for various merchants.  Contact: Kreg Ettenger and Tracy Michaud Stutzman, faculty, Tourism & Hospitality, email: ettenger@usm.maine.edu, phone: 780-5322, email: tracy.stutzman@maine.edu, phone: 343-1116.

The College also recognized three service-learning projects, which provided a valuable service to the community while combining classroom work with field experiences.

3. The USM School of Business hosts a local chapter of Enactus, an international non-profit that mobilizes students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.  Students have contributed thousands of hours to a high school drop-out prevention program; gave young people the tools they need to succeed after their release from the Long Creek Youth Development Center; and worked on the Campbell’s Let’s Can Hunger project, to bring short-term and long-term hunger relief and greater hunger awareness to southern Maine.  Contact: John Voyer, faculty, School of Business, email: voyer@usm.maine.edu, phone: 780-4597.

4. Students in the USM Muskie School Public Health Education Corps, work directly with epidemiologists in the Maine CDC to increase the health education capacity of the center’s Infectious Disease Division.  This builds health education services capacity for the Maine CDC, while placing students directly in field-based activities that better prepare them for the emerging public health workforce.  Contact: Judith Tupper, practice faculty, Muskie School Public Health program, email: jtupper@usm.maine.edu, phone: 228-8407.

5. The USM School of Social Work connects its students with grassroots organizations, neighborhood associations, or other local and community agencies so that the students gain valuable community-building skills and help create positive change in the communities of Greater Portland. Students, for example, worked on creating homeless housing for veterans and assisted a new nonprofit cooperative formed by refugees and asylees from Africa. USM School of Business students also assisted by developing a business plan.  Contact: Paula Gerstenblatt, faculty, School of Social Work, email: pgerstenblatt@usm.maine.edu, phone: 780-4493.

Awards also were presented to five grant-funded projects.

6. Campus Safety Project, with assistance from the USM School of Social Work and the Muskie School, coordinated an array of services for students, faculty, and staff who have experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  The project has improved access to resources, both on campus and in the community, and has engaged numerous community partners and USM staff, faculty, and students in collaborative efforts to make the USM community safe. Those efforts include training, policy changes and prevention education programs.  Contact: Susan Fineran, faculty, School of Social Work and Jean Bessette, research staff, Muskie School Cutler Institute, email: sfineran@usm.maine.edu, phone: 228-8533, email: jbessett@usm.maine.edu, phone: 228-8351.

7. Maine Roads to Quality: Early Care and Education Professional Development Network is a Muskie School-based project to give more Maine families and children access to a choice of high-quality child care options. The project provides a range of professional development training for child care professionals. Last year alone, the program served 557 early childhood professionals throughout the state for a total of 14,100 contact hours of training. Maine Roads also awarded more than $115,000 in scholarships to 53 practitioners and worked with child care centers to earn national accreditation.  Contact: Sonja Howard, research staff, Muskie School Cutler Institute, email: showard@hotmail.com, phone: 230-0114.

8. The Maine Small Business Development Center, hosted at the USM School of Business since 1977, provides high quality, one-on-one business management and training to start-ups and existing businesses throughout Cumberland County.  As one of three certified business counselors in the center, John Entwistle, center director, has provided business counseling to over 4,000 clients, assisted with creating and/or saving approximately 800 jobs, helped clients start over 300 businesses and raised over $18,000,000 in capital. In addition to the counselors and staff in Portland, the Maine Small Business Development Center also funds 12 counselors across Maine. Collectively, those counselors serve 2,000 businesses a year. Contact: John Entwistle, Center Director and Business Counselor, Maine Small Business Development Center, email: entwstle@maine.edu, phone: 780-4949.

9. Southern Maine Area Resource Team (SMART) for Schools, headquartered in the USM School of Education and Human Development, places USM's graduate students into school settings where they assist students and their families. Doctoral students in the Counselor Education program, for example, conduct psychological evaluations under faculty supervision, providing excellent practical training while making services available to community members at a reduced cost. These services have been provided in numerous schools throughout Maine and beyond, resulting in adoptions of best practices and helping hundreds of students, teachers, administrators, clinicians, and family members.

In addition, the SMART provides reading tutoring, and summer programming in coordination with the School of Education and Human Development’s Literacy Program Summer Reading Workshop. Contact: Rachel Brown, faculty, School of Education and Human Development, email: rachelb@maine.edu, phone: 228-8322.

10. The final grant-funded project to be recognized, Youth and Community Engagement Initiatives, helps youth, parents, administrators, families, and community members come together to support populations who have been historically marginalized.  The program, based in the USM Muskie School, also helps provide guidance to the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was formed to investigate the forced assimilation of Wabanaki children. 

In addition, it administers, or is the lead community partner, for the Youth Leadership Advisory Team, which works to empower youth in the foster care system; the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative/Aspen Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, which helps ensure that more young people, ages 16 to 24, seek continuing education or career employment; and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation's District Level Systems Change Initiative, which seeks to ensure that meaningful community engagement is a key component of Portland’s effort to shift the city’s three high schools toward student-centered learning models.  Contact: Marty Zanghi, research staff, Muskie School Cutler Institute, email: martyz@usm.maine.edu, phone: 780-5867.

“Thanks to the guidance of our faculty and staff, and the willingness of numerous community organizations to partner with us, we can provide dynamic educational experiences that also are invaluable community assets,” said McDonnell.