Reis comes to UMaine from the University of Connecticut where she is currently the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. She is also a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and a Teaching Fellow in Educational Psychology. Before her work at UConn, she worked in the public school system for 15 years and she is still active on the editorial board of “Gifted Child Quarterly.” Her educational experience started at Chatham College where she received her bachelor’s in English and psychology. She then attended Southern Connecticut State College for her master’s in special education and then UConn for her Ph.D. in educational psychology. Her field of research is gifted education, which she is often able to translate to the university level.
“I believe in talent development. My career has been defined by my advocacy for high potential students who don’t do well in school primarily,” Reis said. “So I believe that schools should be places for talent development. Universities should be places for talent development.”
One example of her encouragement of opportunities for students interested in enrichment at UConn was through the creation of IDEA grants, which allow undergraduate students an opportunity to apply for a grant of $4,000-5,000 that allows them to work on a creative idea. People have created many different projects from this, some of which have gone on to succeed as businesses. She doesn’t want to limit this to UConn though; she would like to see a similar program at UMaine if she could find a funder to support it. She praised how the program was able to create entrepreneurs and give students an opportunity to work on a creative project instead of in a job focused just on making money to go to school.
“Because often times you’re too busy making money to go to school, you don’t have time to explore a creative idea … if someone has an idea for an invention, we’ve had company starts, we’ve had videos done that would bring tears to your eyes, we’ve had people go out and develop inventions and become entrepreneurs,” she said.
This was just one of her aspirations for UMaine. She had other ideas on how to succeed in the role of president.
“I would be the chief fundraiser, cheerleader and advocate for university of Maine faculty, staff and students,” she said. “My goals as president would be to increase the visibility of the University of Maine, have many more people in Maine understand that this an outstanding place for the brightest students in Maine.”
She wouldn’t just limit it to students from Maine though. She was impressed with the publicity about the university and the website’s usability, which she sees as helpful in recruiting both out-of-state and international students.
“And I think strategically, we need to think a little bit about, not just out of state, but also international students. I have been active in recruitment efforts, bringing in various groups of students to UConn,” she said.
Another role she has gained experience in from UConn is working with the state to facilitate academic groups. She spoke of the support that UConn gets from the state of Connecticut, which allows 75 percent of the students to be employed or going to school in the state only three months after graduating. She has ideas for how to get the state connected with the university to see a shift such as this.
“You seem to have an excellent provost, the chancellor seems to have the right ideas about what kind of investment needs to be made, but I’d also want to know what the legislature will do to help aid in this process because you can’t do it without investment from the state,” she said.
One of the things she was looking forward to the most was the smaller enrollement size allowing her to get to know more students and faculty.
“I love the idea of a slightly smaller campus because I would get to know many more people,” Reis said. “The excitement factor I have would be working the fabulous faculty and students here to increase the visibility of the university across the state, and the nation and the world.”
She’s not just looking forward to this, but also to be presented with a new challenge here at the university.
“I have loved my time at UConn, but I am a person who loves new challenges and I worked in the provost office for a lot of years and I was a faculty leader, so I just think sometimes in life it’s time for a new challenge and this seems to be a really great one for me,” she said.
Reis visited the Orono campus on Feb. 20 and 21 and went to the Machias campus on Feb. 21.