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Discussion of UMaine strategic values addresses “innovation” across System

The third of this semester’s forums to discuss strategic vision and values of the University of Maine titled “Creating and Innovating for Maine and Beyond” took place on Dec. 6 in the Wells Conference Center. Provost Jeffrey Hecker moderated the discussion.

Many members of the UMaine community showed up to give their input and thoughts on the direction of UMaine going forward. Members of the UMaine Machias community tuned in via video conferencing.

Hecker emphasized the need for more integration of campuses moving forward, noting that the ever-evolving funding landscape, changing paradigms of higher education and demographics of the state of Maine all call for a different look at approaches from UMaine.

The main question of the event was whether the goals and strategies presented aligned with UMaine’s values. The core of UMaine’s mission, Hecker explained, is the creation of new knowledge.

“[This is] a way in which the University as an institution can impact the social, cultural and economic well-being of the state. While at the same time, impact of our creating is not limited to state borders,” Hecker said.

Hecker emphasized the need for collaboration not competition among University of Maine System schools in terms of innovation.

During the event, there was much discussion on what keywords to include in the strategic vision. This included whether or not to include words such as “diversity” or “inclusiveness” and how specific these words should be. The discussion went beyond what the statements should be but to also how to put them into action.

“We need to define our goals and find ways to implement the statements we have set forth,” Hecker said.

The suggestions focused on the concept of innovation in relation to a wide variety of concepts, such as social justice and and administrative operations.

Susan Gardner, director of the Rising Tide Center, attended the event and expressed her desire for better connection throughout the state system.

“I would love to see the University of Maine be a go to for expertise in policy and knowledge for the state,” Gardner said.

The rest of the discussion surrounded goals to put into practice and how student research represents what the University stands for. By creating meaningful research opportunities, Hecker said, students are inspired to continue to innovate after college.

The last forum of this series, Growing and Stewarding Partnerships, will be held on Dec. 10 in the Wells Conference Center.

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