By John Ochira, Staff Writer
The University of Maine at Farmington is gearing up to celebrate its 150th birthday next year with an ambitious, but well positioned plan to improve its campus services and facilities. In the spirit of a wedding registry, the Administration Office has asked students, faculty and staff to come up with a list of items they would like to have on campus. “Instead of donating $50 or $100 to the school, many people would rather give actual things,” said UMF President, Kathryn Foster.
President Foster has spent most of her Tuesday nights drinking tea and listening to student concerns about the campus and facilities. “My purpose is very, very simple,” Dr. Foster said during a visit to Mallett Hall this month, “to listen and learn.” Mallett Hall residents had formed a large circle around the discussion table when Dr. Foster arrived in the lounge with a notepad and a pen. She was warmly welcomed by the cheerful residents who offered her cookies and hot chocolate. After a brief introduction, the meeting got underway with a discussion on the issues that particularly affect Mallett Hall. Among other things, carpeting, new mattresses and a paint job were on the list of things Mallet residents would like for UMF’s 150th birthday next year.
Mallett residents are not the only people creating a wishlist for next year’s birthday celebration, a host of other groups around campus are working on their own list of items. Katie Desfosses, Student Senate Vice President is the chair of the Student Rights and Affairs Committee (SRAC), has been mobilizing her committee to solicit suggestions from the general student body. “SRAC co-sponsored a forum with CRC OCC/CC list for the 150 list,” said Desfosses. The forum was intended to gather student suggestions about the items they would like to appear on the final 150 list. According to Desfosses, the forum generated many ideas from students. Some of the student suggestions include “more data bases for the Mantor library, a commuter lounge and pencil sharpeners in all classrooms and study areas.”
A number of students have also asked for flat screen television in the beach area. These suggestions along with all the others from staff and faculty have been submitted to the 150 Committee for review. The committee will review and narrow down the plethora of suggested items from the different lists to a single list of 150 items. The list will go on the UMF website where friends, families and UMF alumni will be able to see and make donations to purchase the listed items.
As the oldest school in the University of Maine System, UMF’s 150th birthday carries great significance because it marks 150 years of public higher education in Maine. UMF students are, however, more excited about the possibility of seeing significant improvement on campus services and facilities.