Office of the President

Monday Missive (Feb. 22, 2021)

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Deep in the Central Highlands of Mexico, millions bound for the United States are, just this week, beginning to assemble and head north. Many will cross the rivers, pastures, and mountains of our native New England, and large numbers will travel as far as Canada.

These visitors portend the first, unseen progression of spring. It will take months before the visual evidence emerges. Coming out from the 10,000-foot ranges of the Michoacan province, their collective one-way journey will total approximately 2,500 miles.

Air-like and ordained with gorgeous colors, our winged and royal friends carry the label Monarch. These internationally recognized migratory powerhouses will, in the months ahead, join us in our gardens, at our picnic tables, and on the tree branches of the Northeast.

Somehow, in the midst of late winter, such a thought brings both warmth and a smile.

The many events and accomplishments of our Husky Nation do the same. Let me share some things:

1) Please note that our next USM Town Hall will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. on Friday, March 5, when the President's Cabinet will discuss the Five Year Strategic Plan, USM: The Next Five Years 2020–2025 Draft. The Cabinet will recap the work we've undertaken on the plan and mission statement, including highlighting feedback received from our Fall survey, and discuss next steps. Please complete this registration form to receive the Zoom link for this virtual Town Hall discussion.

2) In case you missed it, I call your attention to the second installment of Written Expressions: Voices from Native American Communities, which was shared with the USM community earlier today. My thanks to Morgan Talty, a Penobscot Indian Nation citizen and a Stonecoast MFA alum, for sharing with us “Taking Action During Covid-19: An Essay on Indigenous Pride and Anger,” which is available at the link above. As part of the 2020–2021 Gloria S. Duclos Convocation, Indigenous Peoples: Recognizing and Repairing Harms of Colonized Systems, these writings are intended to start and cultivate critical discussions about Indigenous populations.

3) The Office of Student Body President invites you to the Influential Black Leaders of Maine webinar, highlighting the excellence of black leaders in our community and developing a strong network between future and present Maine black leaders. At 5 p.m. today, the panelists will share their advocacy work and how they have stayed motivated throughout it all. Please register at this link and contact or if you have any questions. 

4) Faculty, staff, and non-residential students, please continue to let us know your anticipated weekly presence on campus by completing this form. Your responses help us better understand the population that should participate in weekly asymptomatic screening. If you have questions about the form, please contact and see the FAQ page on USM’s Asymptomatic COVID Testing page.

5) Our faculty continue to provide the people of Maine with critical thought leadership and expertise on a broad range of issues:

6) USM’s basketball, hockey, and indoor track and field teams continued to thrill Husky Nation this past weekend with long-anticipated and widely watched contests. If you weren’t able to view the live-stream broadcasts, you can find them archived online. My thanks to the student-athletes, coaches, officials, and members of the USM community who overcame unprecedented challenges to make these athletics games and meets possible while implementing virus-control measures. 

7) Congratulations to Director of Student Financial Services Keith Dubois for being awarded the inaugural Norm Temple Community Volunteer award by the United Way of Kennebec Valley. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Keith is the front-line goodwill ambassador at Augusta Food Bank, delivering food for the AFB Marketplace program, delivering Weekend KidsPaks, and keeping things running smoothly during each Surplus Food Thursday. "Whether it is running back inside to fulfill a special request, handing out flowers to adults or ice cream to kids, or even dressing up as Santa Claus for those passing by, Keith always goes over and above in providing the ultimate in customer service," reads the UWKV citation. "Neither heat, nor cold, nor rain, nor snow keeps (him) from smiling."

8) Please note that registration for the March 6 Virtual Summit on Restorative Justice in Maine Higher Education is now open. The inaugural restorative justice summit focused on higher education practices in Maine is presented by USM, Bates College, and the University of New England. The summit will include a keynote address by Dr. Demitrius Brown from Millsaps College, a moderated panel discussion, concurrent presentation sessions, and a call to action by Dr. Linda Brandsma of UNE. More information is available at the link above. Please register by completing this form. For any questions please visit the Summit for Restorative Justice Website or contact Assistant Professor of Social Work Rachel Casey.

9) As I mentioned in last week’s Missive, one of our graduate students, Dulsie Varney, and her husband, Troy, were killed early Friday, Feb. 12, during a home invasion at their Turner residence. If you are seeking ways to support Audrey and Shelby Varney following the tragic death of their parents, please know that the Varney family has established a GoFundMe page. And if you are in need of support, please contact University Counseling Services at 207-780-4050 or

10) If you are working on or have completed a project that you would like to share with the USM community, please know that the last day to submit an abstract in Digital Commons for this year’s Thinking Matters Symposium has been extended to Monday, March 1. Please see the Thinking Matters site for details on how to submit your abstract, as well as poster and oral presentation materials in time for the presentations to go live on Friday, April 30.

11) The USM Research & Scholarship Symposium series, brought to us by our Office of Research, the Center for Collaboration & Development, and USM’s Libraries, continues this Friday with Conducting Meaningful Research with Undergraduates. The series’ six virtual lunch-hour sessions run from noon to 1 p.m. every Friday from Feb. 5 through April 2, and include topics such as grant writing, external funding, your publishing identity, and conducting research with undergraduates. On March 12, Dr. Aisha Langford, an assistant professor in NYU’s School of Medicine, Department of Population Health, will deliver the Symposium series’ keynote address, “Best Practices for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research.” See registration links for the entire series of events at the links above.

12) Black History Month activities continue at USM this last full week of February. My thanks to the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE) and the Office of Student Engagement & Leadership (SEAL) for developing and promoting the impactful educational and social programming, much of it in a virtual format. If you have questions about the month-long series of events, please contact the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement.

13) USM's Classified & Professional Staff Senates invite you to an upcoming Health & Wellness Workshop with Sodexo’s Campus Dietitian, Chelsea Champagne, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25. In this Level 2 incentive-approved event, Chelsea will teach how to set achievable goals to improve heart health and overall well-being. Register online. Please note that you may also register your spouse using your name/ email and your Empl ID#. (For questions about Level 1 & Level 2 activities, please contact

14) There are also these on- and-off-campus events of note:

  • This Friday at 5 p.m., the USM School of Music brings us "Great Gigs!" a virtual evening of music and conversation with alumni who are making their mark in the music world, featuring gospel pianist Warren McPherson '13, choral conductor Becca Dewan '06, '10G, trombonist MSG Sam Woodhead, and mezzo-soprano Megan Marino '05.

  • All students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend the 4th-Annual Hussey Leadership Institute. This program will be held over the course of eight sessions through the second half of March to explore the topic of Leading in a Disrupted World. The USM community can use the code "Champ21" to register for free. Learn more and reserve your spot today.

  • If you know of a middle- or high-school student interested in pursuing degrees and careers in engineering, please invite them to participate in the upcoming online Engineering Expo, featuring faculty from USM and UMaine, as well as representatives from engineering firms statewide. The expo will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday. Registration information is available online and all are welcome. 

  • And consider marking your calendars for "Having Uncomfortable Conversations with Your Kids: Talk about Race and Racism" at 6 p.m. on March 24. Brought to us by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Portland Council of Governments, the United Way of Greater Portland, the Portland Public Library, and the Maine Historical Society, The Momentum: A Maine Racial & Social Equity Series panel discussion will focus on how to successfully navigate the discussion of racism with kids and teens.

15) The Passport Initiative — conceived and organized by the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement and the Office of Student Engagement to increase the visibility of and attendance at programs and events across the USM community — continues this semester. If you are sponsoring a campus event, I encourage you to explore how the Passport Initiative can help promote your event and draw larger virtual (for now) crowds. Learn how to request that your campus event be Passport-approved and see upcoming events at the new Passport Initiative website.

16) Students, please take note of these important #usmprotips to support your success at USM:

USM Protips banner

  • In addition to Zoom workshops, support groups, and individual counseling appointmentsUSM's Counseling Team is now offering SilverCloud, a free, online mental health tool for USM students. SilverCloud provides self-guided programs to help students cope with anxiety, depression, stress, sleep issues, and resilience. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles, the self-guided modules are available anytime, on any device. The SilverCloud website provides an overview of options and a brief quiz to help you find the right program and get started. (Log in with your USM email and password.)

  • Hosted by the Career & Employment Hub, Virtual Career Week begins March 1. Throughout the week, students and alumni can have one-on-one meetings with employers to explore career opportunities and job openings, learn more about companies and organizations, network, and even interview for open positions. Career Week is open to ALL students and alumni and sign-up is easy. In addition, check out all of the open roles posted on the USM Job & Internship Board. Don't miss this great opportunity for career exploration.
  • Check out the new Hired Huskies Podcast, courtesy of USM's Career Hub. Offering glimpses into the work lives of USM alumni and insider tips for reaching your own career goals, the Hired Huskies Podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and FM. The episodes feature interviews with Dean of Students Rodney Mondor, Maine Credit Union Public Affairs and Communications Manager Jen Burke, and yours truly

  • Students now have until Friday, April 9, to withdraw from a course for a grade of W. After grades are posted, students will have until May 28 to elect the Pass/Fail grade option in their courses. Stay tuned for details on how to exercise these options.

On a personal note, I must admire the breadth and generosity of our Husky Nation. Yesterday, on my way to meet my friend Doug for a day of skiing, I drove up to the toll booth (I have no E-Z Pass presently), only to realize I had left my wallet at home. Much to my surprise, the toll-booth attendant was a former USM employee who — after teasing me — offered to pay my one-dollar fee. Very kind. And fortuitous. I repaid her on the way home after borrowing a few dollars from Doug.

May your week be full of learning, connections, and unmerited gifts from your fellow Huskies.