Office of the President

Monday Missive (Sep. 13, 2021)

Dear USM Community,

Twenty years ago this last Saturday, four American commercial planes were hijacked in mid-flight with the intent to target key structures on the ground. Two of those planes struck the two towers of New York City's Trade Centers and a third exploded into the headquarters of the American military, the US Pentagon. Several thousand souls died immediately and thousands others would perish in the following months and years from injuries, ailments and suicide. The attack stands as one of the most painful and horrifying events of recent American history. Today, two decades later, we live with the psychic scars of an unthinkable attack on American soil.

The terrorists of the fourth plane, which crashed into the farmland of eastern Pennsylvania, may have been denied a richly symbolic target (likely the Pentagon) by the bravery of its passengers. Former President George W. Bush said: "... terrorists chose a random group of Americans, on a routine flight, to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. The 33 passengers and 7 crew of Flight 93, could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for all of us. The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil."  We will never know exactly what happened on that plane, but likely the exemplary courage of those Americans saved hundreds of other lives.

As we remembered 9-11 in an intimate flag folding ceremony on Friday led by Tyler Silva, a junior who served in the U.S. Army infantry, and Nate Twombley, a senior who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, let us hold closely to the courage and goodness in the American people. Too much, of late, has underscored our differences and the confrontational nature of our attitudes. Perhaps we should listen carefully to the silent message of the brave and united passengers of Flight 93.

Now, let me share some news of Husky Nation's good work:

1) I am very pleased to say that the U.S. News and World Report has once again highlighted USM in its new college rankings. Released today, the rankings place the University 80th among regional universities in the northern US for social mobility and 148th nationwide for best undergraduate Nursing program. This recognition gives national validation for our unwavering commitment not only to access but success for all students. For more information, please see this USM News Story.

2) Ten new full time faculty members are joining us this academic year. This week, I would like to welcome Dr. Jill Olausson, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the College of Science, Technology, and Health. Olausson has researched, published, and presented on both cancer and diabetes. For more on Olausson and USM’s other talented new faculty members, please see this USM News Story. 

3) USM Counseling Services sent out an email last week about suicide prevention and awareness and the five steps you can take to help someone in suicidal crisis. If you or someone you know needs support, has questions, or needs additional resources please contact USM Counseling Services  at 207-780-4050. Consultations are free and confidential.

4) You may hear some noise this week as demolition of 118 Bedford Street starts today. It’s taken months of planning and abatement work to get here, but crews will remove the building this week, then the site will be graded, seeded, and leveled off.

5) The Athletics Department has announced its 2021 inductees into the Husky Hall of Fame, including standouts from baseball, women's basketball, men's cross country, and track & field, field hockey, women's soccer, men's soccer, and women's track & field. They include:

  • Darci Holland, Class of 2005 – Field Hockey & Softball
  • Stacey (LeBlanc) Salvo, Class of 2006 – Women's Soccer
  • Ryan Bourque, Class of 2007 - Baseball
  • Melissa (Bellemore) Mayo-Smith, Class of 2007 – Women's Track & Field
  • Colin Reilly, Class of 2009 – Men's Soccer
  • Nicole (Paradis) Pollock, Class of 2010 – Women's Basketball
  • Tyler Jasud, Class of 2011 – Men's Cross Country, Track & Field
  • Tucker White, Class of 2013 – Baseball

For more information about the honors, to be awarded on Oct. 17, please go to the Athletics website.

6) I would like to remind everyone that the USM Campus Food Pantry provides food security for the USM community on all three campuses. You may shop in person or request a bag of groceries online for pick up. It is free and only requires a USM ID card. For information, including locations and hours and how to donate, please check out the pantry online.

7) The Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Council (IDEC) has created a new racial justice program on campus that is designed to train students in talking about anti-Black racism and white supremacy, building a foundation for their future antiracist practice. Work will include a combination of curated reading lists, group activities and discussions and individual journal prompts. The seven-week, cohort-based program, "Doing the Work: White Accountability in Practice," will run later this semester, from weeks 6 through 14. I invite any interested students to apply online.

On a personal note, I love Ted Lasso. The title character of Apple TV's new - and seemingly unlikely - smash hit of an American football coach who accepts an offer to coach English football, known to us Americans as soccer. He possesses no knowledge of the English game. Yet, his instincts for building both individual character and a cohesive team seem unmatched. The show depicts the personal transformation of many of its lead characters, including Lasso himself, as they collectively face their personal demons. Lasso's heartwarming goofiness keeps the show light enough to be enjoyable while the weight of the message captures both heart and spirit.

May your week be full of learning, connections and growing.