Equity, Inclusion, and Community Impact

Michelle Vazquez Jacobus

Associate Professor
Michelle V Jacobus

Office Location

301F Payson Smith - Portland Campus


207 780 4603

Academic Degrees

  • JD, Stanford Law School, 1990
  • MSW, New York University, 1994
  • BA in Psychology, Political Science, and Spanish, Duke University, 1986


Michelle Vazquez Jacobus, JD, MSW, works from backgrounds in both social work and law in focusing her work on community-engaged learning and community capacity building, particularly through promoting diversity and multiculturalism. Prof. Vazquez Jacobus has co-authored several articles exploring USM’s engagement with the community, including pieces focusing on local immigrant populations; policy implications of food access; public art and culture; collaborative multi-disciplinary community engagement projects; and the importance of community engagement on pedagogy and social justice.  Recently her research has focused on promoting diversity, equity and full access to education and social institutions, particularly for marginalized communities; as well as exploring best practices in promoting recruitment, retention and success of students, faculty and staff of color. 

Michelle earned her JD at Stanford Law School, her MSW at New York University and her BA at Duke University. Michelle was recognized with the 2016 USM President’s Award for Community Engagement; as the 2014 Libra Diversity Scholar at the University of Maine; a 2011 National Finalist for the Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement; and the 2006 winner of the Maine Campus Compact Harward Award for Faculty Leadership in Community Engagement. She has also been recognized by the Maine House of Representatives for her contribution to the community. Recently, Michelle has served as the Faculty Co-Chair of USM's Faculty and Staff of Color Association (FSOCA). 

Michelle lives in Brunswick with her husband and three children. She spends her "free" time exploring international culinary experiences and folding laundry.

Recent Publications

Vazquez Jacobus, M., Ahmed, H., and Jalali, R. (2013). “My daughter does not know how to make the chappati”: Understanding food access among African immigrants in Lewiston, ME. Metropolitan Universities Journal, 23(3), 79-94.

Vazquez Jacobus, M.; Baskett, R and Bechstein, C. (2011). Building Castles Together: A sustainable collaboration as a perpetual work in progress, Gateways International Journal of Community Research and Engagement: Special Edition on Sustaining Community-University Partnerships, 4, 65-82.

Vazquez Jacobus, M. and Jalali, R. (2011). Challenges to food access among Lewiston’s African immigrants. Maine Policy Review:  Special Food Issue, 20(1), 150-158.

Vazquez Jacobus, M., Tiemann, M. and Reed, E. (2011). The Downtown Education Collaborative: A new model for collaborative community engagement. Metropolitan Universities Journal, 21(3), 98-117.

Harris, D.E., Vazquez Jacobus, M., Ewing, H.A., Pieck, S. K., Kane, E., Blum, J.W. (2011). Local food, the built environment and single-parent households in Local Food Geographies: Concepts, Spatial Context and the Local Practices Food Systems in Old Industrial Regions: Spatial Context and Local Practices, Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Inc.

Nigro, G., McCabe-Park, E. & Vazquez Jacobus, M. (2011). The effects of service-learning on retention: A study of 17 Northern New England institutions of higher education, unpublished manuscript; findings published on Maine Campus Compact website.

Vazquez Jacobus, M. and Baskett, R. (2010).  Building community capacity through school based service-learning.  Metropolitan Universities Journal, 22(3) 93-110.

Harris, D., Aboueissa, A., Vazquez Jacobus, M., Dharod, J., and Walter, K. (2010). Mapping food stores and people at-risk for insecurity in Lewiston, Maine. Journal of Extension, 48 (6).

Vazquez Jacobus, M. and Harris, D. (2007). Mapping hunger in Maine: A complex collaboration, Academic Exchange Quarterly, 11(4)202.

Schmitz, C., Vazquez Jacobus, M., Stakeman, C, Valenzuela, G.  and Sprankel J. (2003). Immigrant and refugee communities: Resiliency, trauma, policy and practice.   Social Thought, 22 (2/3), 135-158.