Office of the President

Monday Missive (Nov. 2, 2020)

Dear USM Community,

Exactly 100 years ago this fall, Ethel May Lockery of Bath, Maine, received the constitutional right to vote. After decades of struggle, the women of our country had fought for, and won, the ability to participate in setting the laws, principles, and direction of our nation.

Ethel May Lockery decided soon after her first vote, however, that voting alone was insufficient. By 1922, she had embarked on an adventure previously out of reach to half the American population: to run for elected office. In 1923, she was elected to the Bath Board of Education, becoming the first woman in Sagadahoc County to hold public office since the enactment of women's suffrage.

Whatever your political perspective on tomorrow's election, please remember to participate in the blessings of democracy by casting a vote (if you haven't already). Ms. Lockery's example is instructive. No matter which way the vote goes tomorrow, your participation in the direction of our democracy does not stop at voting. Join committees, write editorials, run for public office, work for candidates, and peacefully assemble to support or oppose the actions of our elected officials.

I am proud to say that Ethel May Lockery is my great-grandmother. Her daughter, Christine, graduated from USM (then Gorham Normal School) in 1927. I never got to meet this first official female representative of the citizens of Bath (I was born there exactly 10 years after her death), but her message to me — to us — this week would be clear: Not everyone in this world gets the privilege of participating in government by voting. Embrace it. Honor it. Use it.

For our students living in Gorham, USM’s offices of Student Engagement & Leadership and Residential Life are providing the following activities to support voting:

  • 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. — a USM shuttle leaves every half hour from Brooks Student Center to the Gorham Municipal Center polls (there's a two-person maximum capacity per shuttle)

  • You can also meet at 8 a.m. in the Lower Brooks Campus Center to join USM peers for a .9-mile walk to the polls in Gorham

I strongly encourage you to make a plan to vote. As Chancellor Malloy said in his message to students, faculty, and staff earlier today, "Citizens and soldiers alike have fought and died through the American centuries so that your vote could be cast and counted."

Closer to home, let me share some of the great work and present conditions of Husky Nation.

1) Let’s begin with news of how our faculty are making important contributions to the region and, in so doing, heighten USM’s reputation for academic excellence.

  • The Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education was heralded as one of the top map libraries in the country in a Portland Press Herald feature story published this morning. Reporter Ray Routhier wrote about “a new online collaboration called ‘Mapping A World of Cities,’ which features pieces from 10 of the top map libraries in the country, including the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library, the MacLean Collection Map Library in Illinois, the Harvard Map Collection and the Library of Congress.” The project allows people to examine cities’ evolution over 400 years. Professor Libby Bischof, the OML’s executive director, hopes this latest national recognition will help people recognize what an extraordinary resource the Portland campus institution has become. “People in Maine don’t always realize what we have here,” Bischof told the Press Herald. “We don’t want to be a hidden gem.”

  • The Portland Press Herald reports that Ryan Wallace, Director of the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at USM’s Muskie School of Public Service, developed a five-year forecast for Maine’s economy that indicates 2025 won’t surpass the levels seen in 2019. But Wallace remains optimistic, believing businesses, organizations, and households will continue to innovate in response to the pandemic. “We should embrace (that) and come out better, more resilient on the other side, though it will take time,” he told the PPH. “I’m bullish on Maine. This is a potential turning point and opportunity for the state.” Wallace joined Richard Arend, Professor of Strategic Management and the L.L. Bean/Lee Surace Chair in Strategic Management, for an hour-long webinar last Friday organized by the Maine Small Business Development Centers for an audience of 140, including policymakers, town officials, and representatives of economic development organizations.

  • Adjunct Professor Dave Yasenchock, who is currently teaching Introduction to Cybersecurity, was profiled in Foster’s Daily Democrat for his varied and far-reaching service. Yasenchock, described in the story as the “IT guru” in the Rochester (N.H.) school department, has a 32-year military career. A colonel in the Army reserves, he currently serves as FEMA’s New England emergency preparedness chief. Previously, he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, handled IT duties in the Pentagon’s War Room in 2003 as the ground attack in Iraq began, and served in a command role during the emergency response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. “I believe in service to your community and your country,” Yasenchock told reporter Kyle Stucker. “I’m going out there and helping others and making a difference. That’s my motivation in life.”

2) A reminder that space is limited for "A Sturdy Vessel of Our Ideals and Aspirations,” our nonpartisan virtual conversation with U.S. Senator Angus King on the Election of 2020 and the Future of American Democracy, so be sure to register soon for the 2 p.m. event on Friday, Nov. 13. When you register, you’ll have the opportunity to submit a question for the discussion with Sen. King that will be moderated by Rebecca Gibbons, Assistant Professor of Political Science. In addition to serving as Maine’s Independent senator and former governor, Sen. King was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has served as a distinguished lecturer at Bowdoin since 2004. My thanks to Rebecca and Dean Adam Tuchinsky for their work to organize this event for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

3) Earlier today, I emailed faculty and staff with news that The Combined Charitable Appeal for University Employees campaign, (CCAUE), is once again underway to assist those in need across our state, around the country, and around the world. Our efforts to join with relief agencies and social service organizations to address the pressing needs of our fellow citizens have resulted in nearly $2 million in contributions over the last 20 years. The need has never been more pressing than this year. The pandemic and related job losses have undermined the stability of our families, putting unforeseeable pressures on the economy as well as the physical and mental health of each one of us. I encourage your participation in the 2020 campaign at whatever level you are comfortable with. Please visit the CCAUE website for information on how you can contribute online, including the convenient payroll deduction option. 

4) ICYM the news, I’m proud to let you know that for the second consecutive year, Maine’s Teacher of the Year is a USM graduate. The Maine Department of Education and EducateMaine awarded the state’s top teaching honor to USM Master’s in Special Education graduate Cindy Soule '00G, a 4th-grade teacher at Portland’s Gerald E. Talbot Community School. Cindy was among 300 nominees for the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year award and is now in the running for National Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to you, Cindy!

5) The list of honors received by USM School of Music students continues to grow. I’m proud to report that vocal performance major Kaleigh Hunter ’23 is one of two students to win the prestigious Nordica Scholarship this year. Awarded annually through auditions with the Maine Chapter of The National Association of Teachers of Singing, the scholarship honors excellence in classical singing performance. A sophomore at USM, Kaleigh studies with and is mentored by Malinda Haslett, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Vocal Studies. Congratulations to you, Kaleigh!

6) Students, please note that Counseling Services, ISE (Intercultural Student Engagement), and ROCC (Recovery Oriented Campus Center) are offering several opportunities for you to process thoughts, manage stress, and practice self-care after the election.

  • Counseling Services will offer single-session, one-on-one consultations after the election to help students identify ways to regulate emotions, manage anxiety, and practice self-care. To schedule a Post-Election De-Stress session with a counselor, please call 207-780-4050.

  • At 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, Counseling Services will also hold a single-session Post-Election Support Group for students to process their feelings, discuss their own self-care, and support one another through the post-election period. To sign up, please email or for the Zoom link.

  • ISE will host We Connect Wednesday: The Day After (a virtual space for all students to process and discuss the election) at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4. Students can join via Zoom.

  • The ROCC will host two safe spaces for students in recovery to discuss their feelings and emotions around the election and its possible impact on self: Today (Monday, Nov. 2) from 2 to 3 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 6, from noon to 1 p.m. These Zoom groups will not be recorded. Please contact for more information. Join by Zoom or by phone (+1 646 876 9923). 

7) Beyond these opportunities, USM is offering two new and timely one-credit pop-up courses: "SKY Happiness & Well-being” and “The Election of 2020: The Long View.”

8) Students, please take note of these important reminders regarding financial aid, course scheduling and registration, and upcoming career events.

  • Students who are planning to take courses next fall are strongly encouraged to complete the FAFSA by January 15. Since some federal financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, you can maximize your chance of receiving the best possible financial aid package by completing your FAFSA before January 15. Learn more about the benefits of completing your FAFSA early.

  • Registration for Winter Session at USM is open now through Dec. 21. Taking one or more Winter Session classes at USM is a great way to pursue your interests and stay on track to graduate in four years. Learn more about the courses offered and how to register.

  • The last day to drop a full semester course for a grade of W (for Withdrawal) has been extended to Friday, Dec. 11. Please see this email from the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services for information about how to drop a full semester course for a W. Since there may be implications regarding your financial aid eligibility, please consult with your financial aid counselor when considering dropping a course for a W.

  • The Career Hub will hold USM's first virtual Job & Internship Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 5. Check out this page to register for the event and learn how to participate. To help students prepare for the event, the Career Hub is offering extended virtual drop-in hours this week, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. To make the most of the Job & Internship Fair, stop by ahead of time to discuss any questions that you have.

9) Please note that two USM graduates will headline the next Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic webinar brought to us by USM’s Muskie School of Public Service and the University of Maine Graduate & Professional Center. State Economist Amanda Rector ’10G and Jennifer Hutchins ’08G, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Nonprofits, will discuss “What Will Economic Recovery Look Like and Rebuilding Maine’s Nonprofit Sector” from 5 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5. Learn more about the ongoing free webinar series and register to join this Thursday’s discussion.

10) I hope you’ll join me in participating in the Community Cleanup Initiative this coming Friday and Saturday. Sponsored by USM’s Outdoor Adventure Board (OAB) and Eco-Reps, the two-day event supports socially distanced in-person/on-campus or virtual/remote cleaning up. Be sure to post images of your cleaning up (on campus or wherever you are) and tag @OAB.USM and @Sustainability_USM on your Instagram story for a chance to receive free OAB gear. For more information, please see this flyer.

On a personal note, several years ago USM Professor Kate Wininger gifted me the biography of Kenyan environmental and political leader Wangari Maathai. I finally started reading the book last week and regret not delving into it sooner. Dr. Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of women's rights and the defense of Kenya's most crucial ecological assets. Her work helped preserve the nation's forests and savannas, lift Kenyans out of poverty, and strengthen accountability in the political system. The work reads like an adventure story, complete with Dr. Maathia's arrest, torture, and undying perseverance in the face of, at times, violent opposition to her stances. Fittingly, the book's title is Unbowed. Excellent read.

May your week be full of learning, connections, and inspiring people during challenging times.