On Wednesday, nine professors who began teaching at the University of Maine in 1988 took time to reminisce about their time together for “The Faculty ’88: Reflection on 25 Years at the University of Maine.”
The low-key event was held in the Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium in Barrows Hall. As the event was about to start, several of the professors made their way to the front of the room at the last minute and took their seats at the long table.
The professors who participated were David Batuski of the physics and astronomy department, Sandy Caron of the education and human development department, Dave Dvorak of the mechanical engineering department, Rick Eason of the electrical and computer engineering department, Dorothy Klimis-Zacas and Adrienne White of the food science and human nutrition department, Tom Mikotowicz of the School of Performing Arts, Chuck Wallace of the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Gail Werrbach of the School of Social Work.
Caron began by speaking about the orientation process the professors went through after beinghired in 1988.
“We spent three days on campus […] learning all about the university, and we also attended a three-day bus tour that went south,” she said.
Caron and the other professors all chimed in with memories from the trip, including a visit to a farm, a fish market in Portland, a campground in Sebago and an apple farm.
When Klimis-Zacas held up a sand dollar and asked, “Where did I get this?,” Wallace jokingly responded, “I think you got it on a beach somewhere.”
As part of a PowerPoint presentation, the faculty went through a slideshow that included group photos they’ve taken with each other over the years. They also discussed how technology has changed since 1988.
“The Internet was new,” Batuski said. “In particular, I remember that as the World Wide Web was coming into existence […] the traffic on the Internet was about 45 percent astronomers. There was a lot of astronomical data that was going back and forth.”
The faculty also presented a 20-item list of ideas to promote in the retention of new faculty. One of the points that was emphasized was the sense of community that Orono offers, as illustrated in the item that read, “Make sure all new faculty understand: We ain’t Harvard. We’re a ‘nice state university.’”
Werrbach later reiterated that point, saying, “We’re not Harvard on Stillwater.”
“That’s the selling point — the climate here,” she said.
Toward the end of the presentation, the professors opened the floor to questions from the audience. When asked what drew them to UMaine, each professor spoke about being able to have a family life, the charm of the campus and the flexibility of being a UMaine professor.
“You can be who you want to be and do the kind of thing that you want to do,” Eason said. “My life has kind of changed several different times along the way, in terms of what I’m focusing on.”
The event wrapped up quickly, less than an hour after it began, so several of the professors could attend the UMaine faculty council meeting.