Recent News

Harkins Specializes in Startups

Professor of Management Jason Harkins has a particular interest in startup companies, including the challenges they face, and what makes them successful. His research and hands-on work with startups takes place both in and out of the classroom.

Harkins joined the UMaine faculty in 2008, after receiving his education west of the Mississippi.

In layperson’s terms, what are your academic (teaching, research, scholarship) interests? 

Entrepreneurship, particularly the unique challenges of building scalable companies. 

Why did you choose to pursue those interests?
Scalable entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to change local economies. The majority of all net new jobs are created by new, small firms that have the potential to become big firms very quickly. As such, these are a very interesting population of firms to work with and learn about.

What is your most memorable event or experience as a member of the UMaine faculty?

I started Scratchpad Accelerator, the first seed accelerator in New England north of Boston, as a UMaine Program in collaboration with the Maine Technology Institute during my sabbatical in 2015. I worked harder, and learned more during those six months than I had ever done before.

Of all the courses you’ve taught at UMaine, which one do you enjoy the most? Why?

Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation (BUA 344) because it is where I get to talk most specifically about this unique population of companies, and hopefully inspire students to create a startup or join one!

What is your favorite place on campus to spend time?

In my office in DP Corbett.

Aside from your faculty role, what are your interests or favorite things to do?

I work extensively with startups outside of my teaching and I love the energy and passion they bring to everything they do. Outside of that, I love to spend time with family.

What advice for students do you have to help them succeed?

Come to class prepared and ready to think and ask questions. If you don’t steer your education toward what you want and need to learn for your career, you will end up as a passenger at UMaine, driven by the currents of those around you.

What advice for new faculty members do you have to help them succeed?

Know your why and find people who share your passion

Any other advice or comments?

Give before you get in every aspect of life. Your mindset matters more than you can possibly imagine, so adopt an abundance mindset.


Lukens Shares Love of Literature and Humanities

Margo Lukens, professor of English and director of the Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center, enjoys exploring literature of different time periods and cultures. Teaching both Native American and European literatures of colonization allows her to introduce and facilitate discussions of widely different perspectives with her students.

Lukens is the April recipient of the Alumni Association’s Faculty Excellence Award. She joined the UMaine faculty in 1992. Educated at Harvard and the University of Colorado, Lukens first explored Native American literature as a graduate student, and upon her arrival at UMaine delved further into Wabanaki, and in particular Penobscot literature.

In layperson’s terms, what are your academic (teaching, research, scholarship) interests?  

I am interested in Native American literatures, and in particular Wabanaki, and in most particular, Penobscot. I also study and teach the European literatures of colonization. Teaching both topics naturally leads to big questions about the United States and its relationship with contemporary Native American communities.

Why did you choose to pursue those interests?

One thing leads to another, as always. I did a MA thesis on fictional cowboy heroes as androgynous figures. As soon as I handed it in, I realized I needed to learn more about the literatures of Native American people. And I’ve always been curious about the origins of my own family’s presence in North America, so studying colonial lit was like stepping in a time machine.

What is your most memorable event or experience as a member of the UMaine faculty?

I have to say it was the night in November 2003 when a group of Penobscot people did a readers’ theatre production of a Native American play I directed, “The Rez Sisters” by Tomson Highway at Minsky Recital Hall. There was a huge audience of Native people who laughed at all the jokes, and it was a really exciting beginning for a group that called themselves The Penobscot Players.

Of all the courses you’ve taught at UMaine, which one do you enjoy the most? Why?

I never teach a course the same way twice, but I’ve had a lot of fun with American colonial to Romantic lit at the undergrad level. And ENG 542 is the grad level course where I have done everything from Wabanaki literature to drama from both sides of the US-Canada border. But ENG 131 The Nature of Story is fun, too, with 115 students. Teaching with a microphone is a ton of fun. And it’s also great to reach such a big audience, none of whom are English majors.

What is your favorite place on campus to spend time?

One of my favorite places is the Cyrus Pavilion Theatre, where performance can be so intimate. I also love the University Forest, and have spent many happy hours out there in all except mud season.

Aside from your faculty role, what are your interests or favorite things to do?

I love to sing. I sing with Orono’s chamber choir, Euphony, and with Blue Hill Bach. I used to sing with a band called Velma, but we broke up after 10 years. Actually that’s about 100 in “band years.”

I also love to ride my bike, ski, and travel. And knit. (Yes, knit).

What advice for students do you have to help them succeed?

Ask questions! And go to class, even if you think you aren’t quite prepared. You’ll lose much more ground if you stay away.

Find a faculty member you can relate to, who can help you think about your path and your projects. And make friends with people who are really different from yourself.

What advice for new faculty members do you have to help them succeed?

I’d give the same kind of advice I got in 1992 from Professor Michael Lewis of the Art department, during a new faculty mentoring workshop: do what you’re really interested in and love to do. And don’t be afraid to branch out, look for space to grow your new ideas.

I’d also tell them to be active in getting grant money: no one’s going to give you money unless you ask for it, and you should be thinking bigger than your perceived limits.

Oh, and last word: Being director of the McGillicuddy Humanities Center in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the best job I’ve ever had.

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans. 


Alum Donates one of Maine’s Earliest WWII-Era Civil Air Patrol Uniforms

Richard Bubier ’50, one of the earliest members of the Civil Air Patrol, recently donated his uniform to the Brunswick Naval Museum and Memorial Gardens.

Founded days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bubier joined the Auburn-based squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, and later enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps. In June of 1944 he had started in the Army Specialized Training Program, and by the age of 18 reported to active duty at Fort Devens in Massachusetts.

When the war ended in 1945 Bubier was discharged and he went on to graduate from the University of Maine with a degree in mechanical engineering. Throughout his career he worked on plane design and shipbuilding.

The Civil Air Patrol recently held an open house at the Brunswick Naval Museum and Memorial Gardens, showcasing their cadet programs, aerospace education, and engineering and emergency services. Bubier was honored at the event and donated his Civil Air Patrol uniform to the organization. The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and provides young people with leadership opportunities, character development, and aerospace and fitness education.

(Story courtesy of The Times Record)

Weigang ’19 is a Problem-Solver

Abigail Weigang, a Fairfield, ME native and this month’s Dirigo Award winner, reflects back on her time at UMaine one month away from graduation.

What is your major (or intended major)?


Why did you choose that major and fields of study?

I chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering due to my fascination with all of the complex problems surrounding biology, particularly in the field of medicine. I became extremely interested in science and math during high school and have always loved the challenge of solving a difficult problem. My passion and appreciation for these things has only grown since coming to UMaine.

Why did you choose to attend UMaine?

I chose to attend UMaine because of all the opportunities this school has to offer its students, and the added convenience of being located in my home state. The strong reputation of UMaine’s Engineering program was largely influential in my choice to attend. Additionally, many of my family members over the previous two generations have attended from UMaine, so Black Bear pride was instilled in me at a young age.

What UMaine-affiliated clubs or organizations are you involved in?

I am a member of the Women’s Track and Field team and the Maine Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society. I have previously participated in UMaine’s chapter of Engineering Ambassadors and our student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (a.k.a. Bioengineering Club).

Favorite place to hang out on campus?

Anywhere with comfortable chairs and lots of sunlight! The Oakes Room in Fogler is one of my favorite spots to get work done or just relax between classes.

Favorite place to hang out off campus?

It’s tied between Thai Orchid in Orono and Bagel Central in downtown Bangor.

What is your most memorable event or experience as a UMaine student?

It’s hard to choose a single experience which has been the most memorable to me, but I have to say that Maine Day has given me some of my best memories as a UMaine student. From volunteering at the Special Olympics, to playing oozeball with friends and faculty members, it’s a day that is as rewarding as it is fun.

Aside from coursework and campus life, what are your interests or favorite things to do?

Anything that involves being outdoors — skiing, hiking, camping, and going to the beach are some of my favorite activities. I also love to read, bake, and watch movies when I’m relaxing at home.

Who is/are your favorite UMaine professor(s) and what makes them stand out?

Dr. Caitlin Howell – she is one of the most inspirational people I’ve met during my time at UMaine and has had a tremendous impact on my experience as a student in Bioengineering. Her excitement and appreciation for science is contagious and her concern for students’ learning is immeasurable. I have conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Howell’s lab over the past three years, which has been one of my most valued experiences at UMaine and has taught me as much as my four years of coursework in that time.

What are your plans for the year immediately following your UMaine graduation?

After graduation, I will be working abroad in Spain for the months of June through August. I did not study abroad during undergrad, but I’ve always wanted to travel internationally and am hoping to obtain a position which allows me to do so in my career. I am also strongly considering pursuing a PhD in a discipline closely related to my field of study within the next two years, as this would allow me to continue fostering my love for research and my education.

What do you see yourself doing professionally once you’ve finished your education?

After finishing my education, I see myself working as a biomedical engineer at a company in the medical device or biopharmaceutical industry. I would love to work at a startup at some point in my career, as I thrive in fast-paced environments and believe having diversified job responsibilities would be exciting. Obtaining a PhD would qualify me to work as a professor at the university level, which is another career option that interests me.

What are the keys to being a successful student at UMaine?  

Use your time wisely, take advantage of every opportunity available to you, and form strong relationships with the people around you (both peers and professors).

Any other advice or comments?

I am so grateful for all the people I’ve met on this campus who have helped me achieve my goals over the past four years. There are far too many names for me to list, but I truly would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of others.

The UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, each month presents its Dirigo Award to an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans and the Division of Student Life.


Earth Week Starts April 22nd at UMaine

The University of Maine’s Office of Sustainability has scheduled a series of events for Earth Week, starting April 22nd and ending April 27th.

On Monday, April 22nd the Earth Day Spring Festival will take place on the mall outside Fogler Library. Dr. Sharon Klein of the School of Economics will make a presentation on Community Sustainable Energy at the Mitchell Center in Room 105.

Other events that day include farm-to-table lunch items at the Bear’s Den, dinner at the residential dining facilities, and a showing of Dynamic Earth at the planetarium.

More information on Earth Week 2019 events can be found here.

Consider Summer University!

Do you still have that last general education requirement to round out your degree? Want to get ahead on your classes? Considering taking a course or returning  to school?

Summer University offers a number of courses throughout the summer, organized in convenient time blocks, beginning with a three-week May Session. Take part in this special opportunity to get ahead, boost your GPA, or continue your education during the summer. Undergraduate and graduate classes are offered on campus and online throughout the summer. For the full course listing and more information, click here.


Celebrate Maine Day from Anywhere This Year

It’s almost Maine Day and if you are no longer on campus, you can still celebrate your alma mater with Black Bears in a Box.

Gather with fellow Black Bears at home, at the office, or anywhere and celebrate May Day with party cups, napkins, an alumni pennant, and more. Get yours here!

And why stop there? Maine Day, May 1, is also the Maine Day of Giving. Consider a gift to the college of our hearts always, and take part in the tradition of Maine Day near and far.


UMaine President Ferrini-Mundy Inaugurated

President Joan Ferrini-Mundy was inaugurated on March 29th at the Collins Center for the Arts on the UMaine campus.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills and National Science Foundation Director France Córdova were the keynote speakers, with Congressman Jared Golden and representatives of Senators Collins and King in attendance. The inauguration was emceed by Danny Williams ‘91, ‘94G, chair of the Inauguration Planning Committee, and included performances by the University Singers, the Screamin’ Black Bears Pep Band, and a brass sextext.

Gov. Mills addressed Maine’s economic issues during her keynote speech, asking: “Will Maine rise to the challenges of today and ensure that our students are the leaders of tomorrow? I hope so, and I have every expectation that with her leadership we will do so. I’m grateful that the University of Maine is playing a critical role in addressing Maine’s workforce shortage … and will spur the economic growth that we need.”

Before becoming president of the University of Maine and its affiliate, the University of Maine-Machias, Ferrini-Mundy was the chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation. She holds a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of New Hampshire. The full ceremony can be watched here.

Career Award Winner Participates in Campus Engineering Panel

Chuck Peddle, who was on campus to receive the Alumni Career Award, delivered a keynote speech on Friday, April 5th at “Disruptive Innovation,” a moderated panel presented by the College of Engineering.

Peddle’s involvement in the development of the 6502 microprocessor, the first affordable mass-produced chip, led to the first personal computers. He graduated from UMaine in 1959 with a degree in engineering physics. 

In the above photo, Peddle is flanked by Student Alumni Ambassador Hans Croft ’21 and Peddle’s partner Kathleen Shaeffer.


There’s Still Time to Win!

The University of Maine Alumni Association’s annual tuition raffle is still open and the lucky winner will receive free tuition for the 2019-20 academic year! Whoever wins can use the prize to benefit a favorite UMaine undergraduate – a family member, friend, stranger in need, or even him or herself.

The prize, based on current in-state tuition rates, covers 30 credit hours and has an $8,790 value. Anyone 18 years of age or older can enter, and the $5-per-ticket contribution helps the Alumni Association continue this popular opportunity. Proceeds will also help the Alumni Association sponsor student groups and activities through our Student Alumni Ambassadors program.

Tickets can be requested here.