Our world needs higher education now more than ever. A pandemic has swept the globe. A new passion has awakened in us to acknowledge and root out structural racism. The teaching and learning at the core of the University of Maine System’s public mission advance knowledge, diversity of thought, and human understanding in these challenging times, all of which are critical to the future health of our communities and society.

We are fortunate in Maine that our state leaders and public health authorities have so far kept the coronavirus from spreading unchecked. This presents us an opportunity to look ahead to how we can safely resume our academic operations in the fall.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to balance the advancement of knowledge with the public health of our university communities. With new capacity now to limit virus transmission through testing, contract tracking, and isolation, along with a strong communal discipline to follow social distancing and other recognized public health measures, Maine’s public universities will resume in-person teaching and learning on our campuses this fall because classroom instruction and immersion in a diverse community of ideas remains the best model to serve the majority of our learners. Doing so provides support and enrichment opportunities that are especially important to our first-generation and special population students. And for at-risk faculty, staff, and students, we’ll employ new technologies and flexible teaching and learning modalities so that all have meaningful opportunities to participate with those on campus in their teaching, work, and learning.

Since the last day of on-campus instruction this past spring, our scientists, university presidents, faculty, and System and campus leaders have worked to be ready to bring people back together this fall if the science and the guidance of civil authorities would permit it. The work has not been easy or without risk, as we are still living in the midst of a global pandemic that requires us all to do our part to maintain personal and community health and public safety. The Together for Maine principles we announce today represent our commitment to serve our students and the state with science-informed plans that each of our public universities will be using to reduce the spread of disease, accommodate vulnerable members of our community, respond to incidents of coronavirus infection, and protect each other and our communities.

I hope you’ll do your part to keep our university communities safe as we return to our universities this fall.

Dannel P. Malloy