By Andrew Devine President
When I went to meet President Kate Foster one morning in April, I thought it would be the start of her day. To the contrary, when I entered her office at 8:30 a.m., she was already in the middle of an important phone.
President Foster later explained that she doesn’t have a “typical” day at UMF. Many of her days days are busy from start to finish, that no two days are the same.
President Kathryn Foster will be departing UMF at the end of the current semester after serving as President for six years. (Photo by Andrew Devine)
However, one day that stood out for President Foster was March 27, when she announced her upcoming departure from UMF.
Foster joined the UMF administration in 2012, as she said, on a risk. “You never could have expected, from my background, that I would be a college president,” stated Foster. “Farmington gave me an opportunity that was so profoundly moving and meaningful for me in my career, in what I care about, in pressuring the mission of higher public education, that I will always feel a debt of gratitude that I never think you could have for another place.”
In her time in Farmington, Foster has become an integral part of the community, from everyday student activities to major achievements towards advancing the institution. “Being present and being visible is a big part of being the president,” Foster explained in describing her responsibilities over the years. That, as well as being at the front of the mission of the university.
“You realize the promise of an institution. That’s the role.” Further explaining the complexity of her position, Foster continued, “How that manifests, how you play that out, the specific elements of that, that’s what varies every day.”
President Foster acknowledged that her role made her a “cheerleader-from-the- side” towards the university, and how she is widely known to be the most enthusiastic Beaver fan at any UMF sporting event.
None of this came without challenge. President Foster recognized the burden that available resources has on higher education. Funds, time and people are all essential yet scarce in bettering the institution.
This obstacle has been formative on the job for President Foster. “Knowing the essence of who you are, a self-reflection, that I think is really important, that helps you to know which challenges to go after, and which are the ones that are not your make.”
With all this reminiscing, reflection, and nostalgia for her time spent in Western Maine, President Foster had a few remaining remarks on her place in the community and what her successor should expect.
Foster started by noting, “For the person who’s coming to sit in this chair, there is an expectation.” Foster lists the indisputable responsibilities of the head of the administration. Most importantly, the last qualification she lists is that “there is an expectation that the president is someone who cares about the people here.”
There will be things President Foster misses about UMF, from Merrill’s views, to Downtown Farmington, to walking to the office. Undoubtedly, President Foster understands the impact that the UMF community has had in her time here.
In her announcement to the public that she would be departing from UMF following this school year, President Foster noted the support, warmth, and comradery felt by the people of UMF, and credited that to her enjoyment and success as president.
In concluding the interview, both of us with a warm feeling in our chests and fighting a happy tear, President Foster expressed her gratefulness for the UMF community, “I hope the support came from knowing how much I love this place, and maybe that I was all of those things that I described about this place. That the match was good, and there was a fit here that was real.”
By Andrew Devine President
UMF Political clubs such as the College Republicans and College Democrats are preparing events and efforts in anticipation for the November midterm elections.
While 2016 saw the Farmington campus very active in political efforts, fall of this year will see students involved in Congressional and local elections and campaigns.
According to Ballotpedia, a nation-wide election information website, in Farmington and Maine, items on the ballot will include: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, State Senate, State House, and other state executives.
Patrick Fallon, president and chair of the UMF College Republicans (CRs), discussed the activities of the club this semester in an interview. As of this month, the CRs have had visits from Mary Mayhew and Shawn Moody, gubernatorial candidates, hosted the Field Director for the 2nd Congressional District from the Maine GOP various times, and attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. where they saw the President speak.
The College Democrats also have several upcoming events including an event hosting all four candidates for the 2nd Maine Congressional District on campus to campaign for their nomination and to debate pertinent issues in current political discourse.
Jeff Willey, President of the College Democrats, wrote in an email interview, “One of my favorite events this year has been Jared Golden visiting our club to discuss his campaign and what he wishes to do should he win the election.” Willey went on to write, “It personally feels as though I am making an important contribution to the future of this country and is stellar being directly involved.”
The CRs do not have any definite plans at this time for events in preparation for the election, but anticipate being busy in the fall. Willey stated that the College Democrats plan on doing voting registration drives to get as many young people here at UMF actively involved in the political process. Neither club will endorse any candidates prior to the Primaries leading up to the election. After that point, Fallon stated that the CRs would support any nominees held by the Maine GOP.
Willey concluded in stating, “I would love our club to be involved in the upcoming elections, and I am certain our members will be, myself included. However, what I am more focused on is simply informing the University student body about the candidates who they will be choosing between and trying to get as many people involved in the democratic process as we possibly can.”
By Andrew Devine – Editor-in-Chief
The UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine (AEM) hosted a panel of teachers to discuss horror stories, life lessons, and experiences that came from working in the classroom.
The panel consisted of teachers of all levels: Dan Ryder and Andrea Palmer, who have been teaching for about twenty years, high school and first grade respectively, Chelsey Oliver, a first-year teacher and recent graduate from UMF, and Elaine Grant, a retired teacher that taught for nearly 40 years.
The program started with a potluck style dinner to which all attendees were invited. Following the meal, the panel began with a light-hearted question that led to some serious answers: “What is your favorite story to tell about teaching?”
Most responses from the panelists resulted in profound lessons that the group had gathered over what amounted to over 80 collective years of teaching. Dan Ryder, an English teacher at Mt. Blue High School for nearly 20 years, included some of these important responses.
“You can be friendly without being a friend,” and “You have to be authentic, and figure out what that means exactly,” were some of the lessons Ryder shared with the club.
Students in attendance seem to have taken in important lessons pertaining to their future careers from the event.
Bradley Howes, a sophomore Secondary Education student who worked with Ryder during his practicum, said, “What I took away from it is, you’re going to screw up many times in your first, second, and third years; the point is you have to go with it and own it.”
On the horror theme of the event, Bryan Eldridge, a member of AEM, said: “Kids aren’t scary; kids are only scary if you make them scary.”
Stephen Riitano, President of UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Devine)
Stephen Riitano, President of UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine, helped organize the event and led the panel on stage in the Landing. Riitano said, despite the title of the event, which is a spin on the 1980s television program: ‘Tales From the Crypt’, it was not meant to be a scare.
“I think the big thing was a balance between horror stories and what is rewarding and informative about teaching.” Riitano said, “If we had just done an hour full of the worst that can happen, it might come as turning some people off.”
AEM has held similar events in the past, under former name Student Maine Educators Association, and hopes to continue work in aiding students in their advancement towards work in the education field.
“It’s usually an annual event that Aspiring Educators does,” said Riitano. “Last year it really wasn’t that big, there were only five or six people in the Ed Center lobby, so it was great to have 65 people show up.”
This event, and the high attendance, shows the progress the club has shown since the start of the school year.
The club will be hosting an event focusing on Special Education in November.
By Andrew Devine Editor-in-Chief
UMF recently hosted campus and community members for a UMF Roundtable discussion of the issues that arise around “Statues, Memorials and Memory.”
The United States has been reckoning with its past these past few months, occasionally at a full-throated yell. The debate over the removal of the Confederate statues in Charlottesville and other cities has brought to the forefront difficult questions about what we wish to memorialize and why.
This event was sponsored by the UMF Division of Social Sciences and Business and the International and Global Studies Program. Scheduled UMF faculty participants included: Linda Beck, Linda Britt, Allison Hepler, Luke Kellett, Sarah Maline, Jean Oplinger, Jesse Potts, Michael Schoeppner and Anne Marie Wolf.
This panel was open to discussing that beyond Confederate memorials, other conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, are also controversial in the way they are memorialized. In an interview prior to the event, Professor Chris O’Brien, chair of the UMF Division of Social Sciences and Business, reviewed the planning for the event.
“The way that [roundtable events] work, if we’re good, is that they are responsive to immediate questions,” said O’Brien. “[Planning] actually happened after Charlottesville.”
There was a diverse crowd in attendance with representatives from the university, UMF students and community members. Hunter Kent, a UMF sophomore and Anthropology major, said this was a good thing.
“It’s interesting to hear other people’s perspectives of current events,” Kent said. “I have gone to several of the roundtables before and I found that they were really helpful and informative.”
One of the leading organizers of the roundtable event series, Nicole Kellett, Associate Professor of Anthropology, was part of a report done on the event by WABI TV5, Bangor.
“We really want to get the word out to bring other people into the fold, to hear diverse perspectives,” said Kellett. “Sometimes there can be an echo-chamber in university settings.”
Silence and uncertainty snuck into the conversation. O’Brien would describe this as the distance between the commentators at UMF and the monuments being discussed.
“It’s easy if one only thinks of confederate memorials, and one is located in Maine,” said O’Brien. “We’re proud of what Maine did during the Civil War; the confederate memorial question is somewhat distant. I think of memorials more broadly. There’s some real questions about what we choose to memorialize and why.”
Following the event, Michael Schoeppner, Assistant Professor of History, said the event went well.
“I think it’s a healthy part of democratic politics to reexamine which stories deserve greater recognition in our contemporary discourse,” said Schoeppner.
To a similar degree, Kellett concluded in her separate interview that “it’s not a debate, it’s not looking at proving any particular stance, or having an answer by the end; but really to engage with the complexity of the issues.”
By Andrew Devine – Editor-in-Chief
UMF to welcome Julian Saporiti to the Emery Community Arts Center on Tuesday, October 3rd to perform a collection of songs based on his extensive research.
Inspired by his doctoral research at Brown University, and his own experiences as a Vietnamese American growing up in Tennessee, Saporiti will perform a collection of his own songs accompanied by archival photographs and films, as well as collected stories from World War II era Japanese Internment Camps.
The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry as ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
In an email interview, Saporiti wrote “Coming from a family of immigrants, I wanted to focus on a dissertation project which illuminated complicated American histories while also speaking to the present moment filled with racial fear, immigration bans, intolerance, and political divide.”
The project is titled “No No Boy” as a tribute to The “No-No Boys” which are reported as being Japanese-Americans who during WWII refused to swear allegiance to the US government or be drafted while their families and friends were locked away in concentration camps on Saporiti’s web-page.
The web-page/blog serves as a companion to the No-No Boy project by posting pictures, music, and other media, as well as interviews and articles which have inspired the album and informed Saporiti’s scholarship.
Saporiti formerly performed in a successful indie rock band, the Young Republic, consisting of himself and various musicians, including Nate Underkuffler. Luanne Yetter -mother to Nate and advisor to the Farmington Flyer – pushed the band to perform in the Farmington area and Saporiti to bring his project here as well.
In an interview, Yetter discussed working on books, projects, and UMF courses that look at history from the perspective of art of the time period being examined; similarly to what Saporiti has done for this project.
“It’s something that Julian and I have always had in common, an interest in both history and music,” Yetter said. Saporiti has also been a guest speaker in some of her previous courses offered at UMF.
In the preview for the album found on the web page for this project, Saporiti concludes his understanding of his work in saying “Whether it’s in concert halls, museums, bars, churches, or coffee shops, performing these songs, showing these pictures, and telling these stories is important, especially right now.”
Saporiti expanded on this in saying, “I’m not talking at anyone or lecturing or writing a dense academic paper (I also do that), but with these songs, I’m just telling you stories of people I know or have read about and am trying to get people to think, and maybe think about what’s going on right now with Muslims, black folks, and undocumented Latinos and Asians.”
Saporiti will bring the presentation to numerous other colleges and venues around the northeast United States the remainder of the year. More information can be found at https://nonoboy-music.tumblr.com/about .
Saporiti will be bringing “No No Boy” to the University of Maine at Farmington in the Emery Community Arts Center on Tuesday, October 3rd at 7 pm.