The University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy held her drop-in office hour on Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. Students, staff and faculty were given an opportunity to visit Chadbourne Hall and speak with the President about ongoing UMaine initiatives or express areas they feel should be prioritized.
On Jan. 24, an explanatory email was sent out regarding the fate of Maine Day. There has been an extended period of consideration in terms of whether or not the nearly 100-year-old tradition will be allowed to take place at the end of the spring 2023 semester. There were a number of safety concerns throughout previous years, which led to the decision to extend the Maine Day celebration throughout the entire week of April 24 and establish a task force to minimize potential damage.
According to the President’s message, there will be no class cancellations, and students are encouraged to prioritize volunteerism and philanthropy. The intention is to shift focus back towards the historical tradition’s initial purpose and give back to the community by engaging in service. Committees are working to create activities and events which will take place on each of the five days based on input from student organizations and groups.
“We care greatly about student safety and well-being. It is important to help our students find ways to stay busy and happy as much as we possibly can,” Ferrini-Mundy said.
On Nov. 16, 2022, it was announced that beginning July 1, 2023, UMaine will become the last public university in the state to partner with Sodexo for campus dining services. According to administration, an eight-and-a-half year contract was formed as well as investments which are expected to vastly improve both the quality and service of our on-campus dining. Despite the many new developments Sodexo will be introducing next semester, the university has an established familiarity with the company because they work with all of the other campuses within the University of Maine System.
Throughout the remainder of this academic year, current dining employees will be unaffected. However, starting in the fall semester, all 100+ students already hired will be offered commensurate positions with Sodexo. The company aims to address our current staffing shortage as well as expand student resources. Administration anticipates capital improvements within the residential and retail dining facilities, as well as both catering and concession venues.
“They care about things that our students care about: food insecurity issues, food waste, implementing sustainability, and using local products,” Ferrini-Mundy said.
In order to properly adhere to the university’s needs, Sodexo will be constantly expanding its services based on student and staff input. There will be town hall meetings and focus groups for community members to engage in.
In regards to the recent special retirement initiative, approximately 80 of the university’s outstanding faculty members will be retiring following this current spring semester, many of which are members of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). To compensate for the departure of many valued employees, the President works directly with departments to ensure that the positions will be filled; in some circumstances that may mean faculty staying an extra year.
The hiring process is structured based on plans and needs expressed by the department and dean, then proposed to central administration. These proposals are reviewed and discussed both annually and as needed in order to continue providing high-quality instruction to the student body.
“It’s part of our bigger picture of strategic planning for how we look to the future. We’re very grateful for the incredible service of those folks who are choosing to retire,” Ferrini-Mundy said.
President Ferrini-Mundy will be holding a State of the University talk on Feb. 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Minsky Recital Hall. For more information about updates about Ferrini-Mundy’s initiatives, visit https://umaine.edu/president/.