Houlton Pioneer Times

UMPI president speaks on programs offered

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its Monday luncheon meeting on Oct. 29. There was a new member induction performed by Leigh Cummings as Ryan Cleary, manager of Ace Rent A Car, became a member of the Houlton Club.

Rotarian Scott White hosted the guest speaker, Raymond Rice, president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle. White gave a brief bio of Rice, stating he was a 1989 graduate of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania where he earned a degree in English and Latin and in 1993 earned his master’s degree in English.

In 1998 Rice obtained his doctorate in English from the University of Connecticut. He has been a faculty member at UMPI for 20 years, a chairman of the College of Arts and Sciences, served as vice president of Academic and Student Affairs and the provost until becoming the president in 2016.

Rice addressed the topic of workforce challenge that is facing the County. Higher education will be important for filling the jobs in the next 20 years. There is a gap between those learning and those looking for work. Between now and the year 2022, 15,000 new jobs are expected. Sixty percent of these jobs will require at least an associate’s degree, a certificate, or a bachelor’s degree. Jobs in health care, accounting and computer science will be available.

At UMPI, the average time it takes a student to graduate in four years is 24 percent;  five years is 35 percent; and six years is 45 percent. The United States average to earn a bachelor’s degree in four years is 39.8 percent. Other examples in Maine for graduating in four years are Bowdoin at 88 percent, Thomas College 32 percent, UM at Fort Kent 22 percent, Husson 20 percent and UM in Augusta at 6 percent.

Rice has set a goal to ensure that students can graduate on time, ensure employment, creating a longitudinal dream the sets a pathway in grades K-18. He hopes to meet the needs of all learners and he examines why students dropout of school. The “Finish in Four” program maps out classes to ensure success and mastery, with an early warning system in place to keep a student having difficulty on track.

Eight students are now enrolled in the new Agriculture/Science program at UMPI. Other degrees available are biology and pre-med, business administration, criminal justice and nursing. The nursing program coordinates with UMFK and UMPI is also meeting with Northern Maine Community College to work together in the nursing courses offered.

Mary Barton Akeley Smith has just donated $1 million to the Agriculture Science and Agribusiness program at UMPI in the form of an Endowed Chair named for her father Dr. Robert Vinton Akeley and in memory of her late husband Rodney Smith. This will enable the school to have a permanent faculty position in the agriculture program and will finance the building of a new greenhouse for research and also summer research fellowships with the balance held in an endowment for the program. More information can be found at the UMPI website.

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