UMPI Progress Commended In Chancellor Page’s Campus Visit

Workforce-focused academic innovation, affordability, early college, and collaboration
are highlighted as Chancellor conducts his last campus town hall in Aroostook County/em>

Free standard tuition and fee attendance provided for 212 Maine students
seeking an undergraduate degree at the University of Maine at Presque Isle this Spring

Presque Isle, Maine  — University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page, a native of Caribou and a graduate of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, hosted his last campus town hall in Aroostook County today.  The Chancellor will retire June 30.  

During the town hall the Chancellor and University of Maine at Presque Isle President Ray Rice led an open, interactive discussion on the Board of Trustees’ Declaration of Strategic Priorities, how campus priorities align with them, and how they guide the evolution of the campus and the University of Maine System.  As part of the visit the University of Maine System highlighted a number of accomplishments at the campus that improve student and state success.

“President Ray Rice and the faculty and staff at the University of Maine at Presque Isle continue to innovate and improve in support of our students and the communities of Aroostook County,” said Chancellor James Page.  “UMPI has been a strong leader in our work to reform public higher education in Maine and is helping to prepare more people for a life of success and leadership in our rural Maine communities.”

UMPI Advancements and Alignment with Strategic Priorities

Degree Attainment and Workforce Development: UMPI’s YourPace program has welcomed 95 new students this year. This $2,000-per-semester accredited online program was designed to meet the needs of adult learners with some college but no degree. It allows them to get college credit for their past learning and work experience while taking advantage of a flat-tuition rate that is less than half the cost of standard, full-time tuition.

UMPI is the first bricks and mortar public university in New England to offer such a competency-based education degree program. The program began in Fall 2017 and saw its first two graduates in its first semester. Since then, YourPace has helped students to complete as many as 21 credits in one term as they work toward earning a Bachelor’s degree. To provide further convenience and access for students, UMPI expanded its offerings this fall to provide six start dates per year. UMPI is working closely with Academic Partnerships to expand national level access to this online degree completion programming.

Affordability and Student Debt, The Way It Should Be: This year, 493 of UMPI’s in-state students received some form of financial assistance. 212 Maine students seeking an undergraduate degree, or 43 percent, received a combination of grants, scholarships, and waivers that completely covered the standard cost of tuition and fees.  For the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year, UMPI has provided an additional 134 new students a Free for Four commitment. In addition, 76 new students have been awarded aid from the institution’s For Maine Families Program. The program assists in-state middle income families by reducing the net cost of tuition and fees to $4,800 annually.   

UMPI ranked 7th in the 2018 Student Loan Hero Report: Top 20 Affordable Colleges in the Northeast.  Additional initiatives that help reduce student expenses and debt include:

  • 150 Students Return $185,000 in Loan Funds:  Financial literacy efforts at UMPI  encourage students to bring back unneeded proceeds from their student loan refund checks to reduce student debt.  This year, more than 150 students returned unused loan proceeds ranging from $10 to $5,500.
  • Finish in Four: One extra year in college can cost a student $50,000 in lost first-year salary, college expenses, and added student debt. UMPI’s Finish in Four initiative focuses on timely degree completion and eliminating barriers in getting students to their chosen career field. UMPI helps to keep students on track by providing a custom advising experience, maintaining a comprehensive “early warning system,” and providing academic maps for each academic program that show the exact sequence students can take to graduate in four years of taking 15 credits each semester.

Expanding Access For Mainers:  For the second year in a row UMPI saw a significant increase in enrollment, up 10.4% in the Fall 2018 Enrollment Report.  Within that increase, in-state student numbers were up 12.1%.

Early College Credit Hours Climb 30%:  UMPI continues to be a state leader in early college expansion.  UMPI has produced more than 3,550 undergraduate credit hours, a 30.4% increase over last year. Through its partnership with the State of Maine, UMPI is able to keep the direct costs that students pay to just $15 per credit, a savings of more than 90% over the traditional cost for a Maine resident attending UMPI this year. Between Fall 2015 and Fall 2018, UMPI has nearly tripled its program enrollment and more than tripled the credit hours earned by local high school students, saving Maine families more than $2.1 million in tuition expenses.< Workforce-Focused Academic Innovations:  UMPI is innovating and expanding its academic portfolio to meet critical state workforce and local employer needs.  Examples include:

  • Cybersecurity: In collaboration with the University of Maine at Augusta, UMPI will begin offering a B.S. in Cybersecurity in Fall 2019 as part of a multi-campus UMS program–one of only 5 programs in New England dedicated to Cybersecurity. The program is designated by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
  • Growing Ag Science and Campus Collaboration: UMPI’s new Agricultural Science and Agribusiness program has had a very busy first year. Last fall, UMPI received a $1 million gift from benefactor Mary Barton Akeley Smith establishing its first ever endowed chair: the Dr. Robert Vinton Akeley Chair of Agricultural Science and Agribusiness.  Yesterday university and community leaders took part in the groundbreaking of a state-of-the-art teaching and research greenhouse to support sustainable agricultural endeavors and prepare skilled workers for one of Aroostook County’s primary economic drivers. The Ag program includes two shared faculty positions, with duties split between teaching at UMPI and working for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
  • Nursing Expands to Meet Shortage:  Together, UMPI and UMFK are targeting the statewide nursing shortage by offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program in Presque Isle. Designed especially for place-bound students, this new program will allow students to complete all four years of the BSN on the UMPI campus. Program participants will be UMPI students for the first two years, then transition as UMFK students for the remaining two years. They will still take all of their courses on the Presque Isle campus for their last two years, but those courses will be delivered by UMFK Nursing faculty and students will graduate with their BSN from UMFK.
  • New Medical Laboratory Technology Training Center:  In January, UMPI established a new $200,000 MLT Training Center to help address healthcare workforce needs while providing its Medical Laboratory Technology students with a dedicated space that simulates a hospital setting for completing intensive clinical training. The MLT Program of Maine is a collaborative program sponsored by UMPI and the University of Maine at Augusta in cooperation with hospitals across the state that serve as clinical affiliates.

Support and Closer-To-Campus Opportunities for Student Athletes:  UMPI just completed a very successful first year in the North Atlantic Conference, with multiple athletics teams making the playoffs and many student athletes recognized at the conference level for their play as well as their academic successes. The athletic conference, affiliated with the NCAA Division III, includes colleges throughout the Northern New England states and sponsors nearly 20 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports. Membership in the NAC has allowed UMPI’s Athletics Program to increase the number of home games and positively impact the student-athlete experience.

“The University of Maine at Presque Isle has always been proud to serve our Northern Maine students and neighbors,” said President Ray Rice.  “During his seven years of service Chancellor Page set the expectation that we could do more through partnership, innovation, and an unrelenting commitment to student and state success.  Working under the One University framework UMPI is leading state collaborations. We are also attracting more young people and working adults into programs that graduate students with less debt and more opportunities in the Maine workforce.”  

Distributed 4/26/19