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Presidential Finalist: Dr. Nancy Targett

Targett is the only finalist who attended UMaine for a degree program. She attended the University of Pittsburgh for her bachelor’s in chemistry and biology, University of Miami for her master’s in marine science and graduated from UMaine with her Ph.D. in oceanography in 1979. Since then, the majority of her work has been at the University of Delaware, where she served as the Dean of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and director of the Sea Grant College Program, as well as serving as the Acting President of the University from 2015-2016. In 2016, she moved to the University of New Hampshire to serve as the Provost, where she has been since.

During her time as acting president in Delaware, she gained experience and insight that she sees helping her if she were to be chosen as UMaine’s next president.

“I learned a lot about the importance of relationships. Both with faculty, with people in the State, with the students and I had a lot of fun with that,” Targett said.

She spoke of taking selfies with the students and having conversations about what they were studying and how this helped her to learn more about the people she was serving as well as staying focused on the opportunities for the students.

“I think it’s really important that students develop that portfolio when they’re at the institution; you don’t wait until the end to go to career services. You develop that portfolio all the way through and it helps you make decisions about where you want to go in the future and I think that’s important,” she said.

This development through opportunities plays into her goals, if selected as president.

“I always say that it doesn’t matter if you come to an institution, and if you’re the president or a faculty member or you work in the dining hall or in maintenance, if you’re at a higher ed institution, you’re all there because you’re contributing to the experiences of the student,” Targett said. “We all have the same mission. It’s how we execute on that mission that’s different, but really the focus is on the students.”

And Targett knows all about different roles within a university from her time at Delaware. She started as an associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment in 1984; by 2005 she was the dean of the college, performing an entirely different role. This helped her to gain experience that she sees as valuable in the relationship between Machias and Orono, as she was based on the coast at Lewes when she started at Delaware. Lewes is 90 miles from the main campus, but is still part of the university. This required her to teach courses through the phone and then, as technology improved, through interactive TV, so she knows how to manage a campus that is not in the same location.

“So the whole idea of being very aware of being on the other end of where the person is, is something that’s really important, which helps to facilitate that interaction, to bring people in and make sure they feel they’re a part of the whole community in terms of the One University concept,” she said.

This isn’t the only initiative started by the current president that she has ideas for. She has thought about how to use the university to help facilitate the economic growth of the state, which she calls a workforce development ecosystem.

“To build the ecosystem around which we can develop workforce for the state. We have the potential workforce here as our students. So how do we develop that? By partnering with companies to do internships for students and a lot of times if students do those internships, the companies like the students and therefore offer them jobs,” she said.

This, she argues, will give students reasons to stay in Maine. She also envisions partnerships through our research capabilities as an asset for building economic growth.

“We have the university as the research flagstaff. We have research that directly translates out into opportunities for partnerships with companies and communities in the state,” she said.

Coming back to the university from which she graduated, she was impressed with the growth that she saw, especially from the Honors College, the New Balance Recreation Center, the Mitchell Sustainability Center and the work with wind turbines at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

“Just so many wonderful opportunities to think about. I’d like to think about how we put all that together…and what we could do more than what we are already doing,” she said.

As a first generation college student, she also recognized the importance of being accessible for the student population and sees this as an opportunity continue that accessibility.

“I studied here and benefited from being a student here and to think now about a potential opportunity to be able to give back to the university is kind of cool.”

Targett was on campus visiting Feb. 20 and 21 and was able to visit both the Orono and Machias campuses. While she was on campus she had two open sessions in Orono and one in Machias.

For more coverage of the changing of the presidents, visit

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