In praise of UMPI’s growth

4 weeks ago

To the editor:

I am writing to congratulate the University of Maine at Presque Isle for graduating its largest class ever last month. 

Under the transformational leadership of President Ray Rice, the university has more than doubled its enrollment in five years, despite demographic trends that have led to a decline in the number of students pursuing postsecondary education in Maine and New England. 

UMPI’s growth has been driven by its incredible innovation in meeting the needs of busy working adults through its affordable competency-based YourPace program. Participants access relevant courses entirely online and progress at their own pace toward their degree or certificate in high-need fields including accounting, criminal justice, human services, mental health rehabilitation and supply chain management. 

Jamie Guerrette, of Presque Isle, was one of the 513 graduates in this historic class. As a mother with a demanding job and active roles in the community, she could see the benefit of a bachelor’s degree but not how going back to school could work for her schedule. Thanks to YourPace, she was able to complete her degree in six months and secure a best-fit position with a local nonprofit organization. 

Jamie’s story is a reminder that Maine’s public universities are essential to the prosperity of the state’s people and economy and that we must evolve to continue to be, as UMPI is so effectively doing. 

President Rice noted in his commencement remarks that many who were graduating had achieved their degrees and dreams while also juggling jobs, caring for loved ones, and fulfilling other responsibilities – just like Jamie. Had it not been for the affordability and flexibility of YourPace, she and countless others in UMPI’s Class of 2024 would not yet have their door-opening degrees and be benefiting from their new knowledge, skills and abilities.

While commencement should be all about celebrating our students, it’s also the right time to recognize the institutions that support their success. For an increasing number of Mainers, that’s the University of Maine at Presque Isle. 

Dannel Malloy
University of Maine System Chancellor
Bangor