Pit Stop #19: University of Maine

Joan Ferrini-Mundy is a little over two years into her leadership of Maine’s flagship campus, the University of Maine –as well as the University of Maine at Machias, University of Maine’s 240-acre regional campus on the coast. She brings an extraordinary background to her role, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of the National Science Foundation.

A beautiful sculpture by a New Zealand artist greets visitors.

As Maine’s only public research university with aspirations to become an R-1 institution, the choice of President Ferrini-Mundy was a smart strategic move. In the 2019 Research Report published by the university, one can see the progress being made, including a more than 50% increase in grants greater than $1 million, year over year.

University of Maine is also in the top 20% of universities receiving National Science Foundation funding. One of the president’s clear goals is not only to continue to build her university’s research agenda, but to also make sure the institution is more widely recognized across America. 

Go Black Bears!

I arrived on campus just after some major league news had broken:

University of Maine just became the recipient of a $90 million gift from the Harold Alford Foundation as part of a $240 million donation to the state system– the largest investment ever made to a public educational institution in New England.

The gift comes with the commitment to raise matching funds, so Dr. Ferrini-Mundy (and Chancellor Malloy) clearly have their work cut out for them. But even with the recent completion of a capital campaign for the flagship that exceeded $200 million, I don’t think they are complaining about the work that lies ahead. 

The entire Maine system made a very early decision to re-open all their campuses this fall and they have done just that. While residence hall occupancy is down a bit, enrollment has held steady compared with a year ago– at 11,600 students. There have been very few cases of the virus and no outbreaks as of today.

Clearly, protocols are in place for the Bears.

This was my first time visiting University of Maine and I’m excited to see what lies ahead for this already strong institution with the powerhouse Dr. Ferrini-Mundy ready to take it to the next level. She is quite optimistic that the entrepreneurial spirit that’s been unleashed in addressing the immense challenges of the pandemic will make UMaine a stronger institution.

Listen to her wax optimistic in her conversation with me below:

Related Posts

Pit Stop #51: Ralston College

May 8, 2023

Pit Stop #50: Massachusetts School of Law

April 5, 2023

Pit Stop #49: Roger Williams University

March 28, 2023