What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 29 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 32 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 32 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 42 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 42 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 51 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
3 years 4 days ago
More in Featured
UMF president hopes to build ties with OHCHS
NORWAY — The University of Maine at Farmington and Oxford Hills already have a strong connection, but the university's new president, Kate Foster, would like to make it even stronger.
Before a recent trip to Oxford Hills, Foster pulled some alumni numbers – she was pleasantly surprised to find strong relationships.
Seventy teachers in SAD 17 are UMF grads, Foster says. Twenty more Oxford Hills residents are alumni. There are currently 30 Oxford Hills grads studying at UMF, including eight freshmen.
Those connections made a trip to where those students came from essential – and worth it.
"I am blown away by Oxford Hills High School," Foster says.
The integration of the school's technical and academic focus is unique and powerful, Foster says. There were even some ideas she wants to bring back to UMF.
Foster admits the path to university president was "non-traditional."
She holds a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering and geography from Johns Hopkins University, a master's degree in city planning from UC Berkley and a doctorate in public and international affairs from Princeton University.
For 19 years, she taught at State University of New York at Buffalo, working her way though the ranks to become director of a regional research and policy center at the college.
When she applied for the job at UMF, Foster was in the middle of a one-year fellowship with The Brookings Institution (a nonprofit public policy organization in D.C.), but UMF and western Maine grabbed a hold of her. She only applied to one job and the "stars aligned" to bring her to Farmington.
Although new to the job, Foster says the mechanics are similar to previous positions she's held.
"It's the portfolio of any executive really," Foster says.
"Strategic planning, working with a governing board, raising money, building a team, working with the media ... having one foot within the university and one foot within the real world."
It's that emphasis on the real world that also attracts Foster to making connections between UMF and Maine, particularly neighboring areas like the Oxford Hills.
With her background in regional integration and economic development, Foster sees where the UMF programs can help prepare students to better Maine's future.
Many people know UMF as a teaching college and one of its primary goals remains creating educators – Foster says about half of UMF is devoted to teaching.
Training educators and preparing teachers for the changing environment of public education is crucial, Foster says.
The concept of "customized learning" is being implemented to serve the learning needs of students better, Foster explains.
"When you have, in a classroom, students, some of whom are aspirant toward building a race car ... and students who may be thinking Shakespeare, what does the teacher do in that classroom and what is the capacity of the teacher to do that."
UMF, she says, is currently working with the Department of Education to work to develop a customized learning program.
Although the breadth of educator types being trained at UMF is broad, the university hasn't done as much as it could to train technical educators, Foster admits. She hopes that will change in the future.
Programs for the future
The focus at UMF isn't just teaching, however. Foster says that the university is building on programs to increase economic development and promote future health.
Community health education, which is playing such a conspicuous role in SAD 17, is a UMF focus, Foster says – the CHE program is one of the college's fastest-growing.
The program is doubly important for areas like Oxford Hills, which have poor health statistics – the CHE program is trying to help tackle problems like obesity, high smoking rates and hunger, both within schools and the wider community.
Focusing on western Maine's natural resources is also part of UMF's program – the unique outdoor recreation business administration program trains students who want to take advantage of one of Maine's crucial resources – its terrain and scenery.
The program, Foster says, aims to develop sustainable, four-season tourism opportunities as a strong pillar of Maine's economy and move away from only seasonal employment.
In both areas, as well as the other opportunities, for geography and liberal arts, that UMF offers, Foster wants to develop more relationships with schools like OHCHS.
She hopes that, through networking and interaction, the numbers of UMF grads who apply their skills in Oxford Hills and call the area their home will continue to grow over the years.