Several hundred University of Southern Maine staff and faculty members gathered on August 24th to celebrate the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.
President Jacqueline Edmondson, who began her role on July 1, served as the host of the annual event.
“I have spent the past two months learning all I can about USM – meeting students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the campus,” Edmondson said. “I feel honored and humbled to serve as the 14th president of the University of Southern Maine.”
The opening breakfast has been an annual event for years, typically drawing a majority of the faculty and staff for a morning highlighted by warm food and conversation. Due to the pandemic, the breakfast hadn’t been held in person since 2019.
President Edmondson took the opportunity to talk about her goals for the start of her tenure.
“In my first 100 days as president, I have been focusing on four priorities that will lay the groundwork for our efforts to advance USM.
“The first priority is building relationships. To date, I have had more than 235 meetings with groups and individuals across the state that include many of you, as well as elected officials, alumni, and others,” she said.
Her second priority is communication, she said.
“USM has many wonderful stories that need to be told, and each day, I learn something new and exciting about USM,” she said. “I am eager to share what I am learning with a broader audience as we work to elevate USM’s stature and reputation.”
The third priority is creating a sense of belonging at the University.
“I spent time this summer working to learn as much as I can about the priorities at USM, including the research, scholarship, and creative work our faculty, staff, and students engage in,” she said. I have toured our spaces as I consider the learning and work environments that are part of our lives at USM.”
The work applies to every college and campus in the University, she said.
“Finally, I plan to enhance and expand signature programs at USM,” Edmondson said. “The MIST lab, the Atlantic Education Alliance, the American Sign Language program, our Arboretum, our music programs, and the summer reading and writing workshop for teachers and children are just a few of the many programs I have learned about over the past few weeks.
President Edmondson also took time during the morning program to highlight the work of the USM Foundation, which is preparing an unprecedented fall initiative.
Ainsley Wallace, President and CEO of the USM Foundation, spoke for a few minutes about the initiative and its service to student success.
Edmondson also spoke of wanting USM to be viewed as the best regional comprehensive institution in the country.
“Regional comprehensive institutions are important to the future of public education in the United States, and USM is no exception” she said. “As a regional comprehensive, our university is a steward of public education, and we help to drive the economy and cultural life in the communities where our campuses are located.
“We have a rich history that extends back to our days as a normal school, and our programs, including the education programs that we are founded on, remain part of the fiber of our university,” Edmondson said. “Our programs are critical to the needs not only of our region, but also the great state of Maine and beyond.”