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Sports investments are a good way to improve UMaine’s academic prestige

The Black Bears had a great season for hockey and women’s basketball alongside improvements in records to come in men’s basketball and women’s hockey. In turn, the community of students has improved for the better. Now, we are set for an expansion of the Alfond Arena which has already broken ground. This further encapsulates the sports environment and more importantly, the university in the direction it wishes to pursue. The future of the University of Maine is looking better, and improvements in sports will increase academic prestige and sports recruiting. 

To begin, sports bring people together and improve mental health as it helps to form a tight community. Studies have already suggested that “the social interaction inherent in sporting events can make people feel as if they belong, thus making them less lonely.” Just this year, attending several hockey games, I noticed students gaining a greater sense of belonging at UMaine. Even beyond the attitude among many despite hardships faced has seen an improvement in student quality in years past. For the future, I hope this increases evermore as with no close community, we will fall as a university extending to academic prestige. Studies have confirmed a statistically significant positive relationship between membership in Division I-A (the powerhouse schools athletically) and academic reputation” as alumni feel proud of how far their school has come, and donations increase. The result is improvements in academic buildings and academic performance due to increased quality.

We have observed the growth of our academic prestige since becoming an R1 university last year or simply, recognition of profound research and very high quality robustly coming out. This allows us to tap further into boosting grant money and be able to produce more quality research. Given sports improvements and the new engineering center will likely see increased STEM research. One area I hope to see improvements in is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the long term. A balance between the two will allow a broader student body of differing interests able to come together. In general, the future of sports will see increased results as recruiting improves. The alumni will be more willing to give into different areas of the university as a sense of pride becomes embedded. 

In the long term, the university can prosper and succeed. This will require one key feature: ensuring improved effectiveness of administration. Already, I give tremendous credit to President Ferrini-Mundy of the university for her talented leadership in guiding the university further into prosperous planes. Others within leadership positions such as Dean Dana have done great as well. Having an effective team with athletic and academic improvements is a recipe for success. However, a build-off for leadership needs to occur for the future as a good leader can become greater. Effective long-term leadership is essential for increased resources to be tapped into as greater heights of prestige can be achieved. This can allow us to become greater as a university, where we can compete further on the level with universities in New England such as Vermont and New Hampshire. 

These two schools share a prestigious sports program. While I am not saying that we do not, but the improvements are essential for us to prosper further. When looking at these two schools, basketball is associated with Vermont while hockey is associated with New Hampshire. Maine is associated with hockey, but the sport on campus has fallen aside due to a lack of success over the past two years. Now, improvements in the program can occur and women’s basketball seeing success with improvements there will allow tapping of better athletes than the good ones we have now. 

Overall, improvements to sports will lead to better academic prestige where everyone benefits. Increased resources into the athletic side of things will transfer long-term to academics as alumni will be more willing to give to the university. This will see our prestige improve further within New England, a bastion of education, and allow us to have a better university 10 years from now. During this time, I suspect a leadership change will occur with one torch passing the baton to another to build success and propel us into greener pastures.

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