Recent News

Bobby McFerrin Headlines This Year’s Collins Gala

Bobby McFerrin, 10-time Grammy Award winner perhaps best known for the a capella hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” will return to the stage of the Collins Center for the Arts on September, 28th.

McFerrin has made a career of blurring the lines between pop music and fine art, inspiring a generation of musicians to sing a capella and beatbox. McFerrin previously performed at the Collins Center in 1987 as part of the venue’s second season. The arts center was called the Maine Center for the Arts at the time. 

The Collins Center for the Arts’ full schedule for the year also includes rock ‘n roll legend Chubby Checker and the Wildcats, comedian Bob Marley, “The Office! A Musical Parody,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “The Color Purple.” 


UMaine Professor Showcased in Climate Change Article

Jacquelyn Gill, paleoecologist and assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology at the University of Maine, recently spoke with the digital news site Vice about her optimism in facing the climate crisis. She looks to the past to understand how species adapt and change through time. 

“With the fossil record, the Earth is literally teaching us how to get through this,” she stated. “That makes me want to roll up my sleeves.”

Her approach to studying climate change acknowledges that it is man-made and a crisis but that with the information we have, ingenuity, and a will to change, there’s hope.

This will Gill refers to requires the need for city planners and policymakers to pay attention to this type of research. The Vice article goes on to share lessons learned through history: that positive change has come from past climate crises, specific lessons from past crises can be applied now, the “doom and gloom” rhetoric doesn’t help to motivate action, and finally, that the point of this is to launch innovation and change.

The full article may be read here.


A Life-Saving Path



For Aislinn Sarnacki '10, a mountain hike restored her health and launched her career By Abigail Curtis

ON A BRIGHT FEBRUARY MORNING, under a blue sky that seemed to hold the promise of spring, Aislinn Sarnacki ’10 strode through a white pine forest at the Stover Preserve in Belfast and down to the snowy banks of the Passagassawakeag River.

Sarnacki, a Bangor Daily News re­port­er, is familiar to many outdoor enthusiasts in Maine and beyond because of her blog, “Act Out With Aislinn,” and her popular “1-Minute Adventures” video series. On this particular day,
she was in her element: the woods of Maine. Her signature long blonde braid bouncing, she pointed out animal tracks in the snow, scrambled down to the river to take photos of the ice formations, and exclaimed with delight when
she spotted a golden birch.

“It’s my favorite tree,” she said.

And although it was a chilly day, it felt good to her to be in nature. It always does, said the 30-year-old Sarnacki. It was that way even when she was a curious child wandering the woods and fields that surrounded her home at the end of a long, dirt road in Winterport.

“I spent all my time outside,” she said of those years. “I would just go out in the woods. I’d pop out somewhere, miles down the road, in someone’s yard. I would get lost quite often.”

She lost a bit of that outdoor moxie in high school, when it seemed cooler to play team sports than to roam the woods. But she got it back as a student at the University of Maine. Just in time, she believes.

That’s because Sarnacki thinks that hiking, and nature, helped her when she hit a personal rough patch during college.

It may have even saved her life.

Sarnacki's dog, Oreo, frequently accompanies her on hikes and provided the inspiration for her newest book, Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine. Photos courtesy Aislinn Sarnacki

Struggling up Chick Hill

At UMaine, Sarnacki was a communications major who belonged to the Honors College, where the small class sizes, group discussions, and closer relationships with other students and professors were a good fit.

“That really made my UMaine career more challenging and fulfilling,” she said. “It’s very much like a liberal arts education.”

She took courses that mattered, in­cluding journalism ethics and a seminar on the works of literary non-fiction writer John MacPhee, whose focus on the natural world she loved. She also worked for the Maine Campus, where she held down the police beat for three years.

“I would meet with the campus police officer once a week, and write down whatever crazy things the students had gotten into that week,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

But when she was a junior, things took a left-hand turn. Sarnacki was struggling with depression, social anxiety, and an eating disorder. She lost frightening amounts of weight and felt like her life was out of her control.

“It’s hard not to be depressed when you’re like, ‘yup, I’m dying,’” Sarnacki said. “It’s not good. I looked like I was sick. I don’t know if people thought I had cancer. I remember I looked so sick that I didn’t like being in public very much.”

But she found healing in nature. The summer after her junior year, Sarnacki set her sights on getting better. She went on expeditions by herself, starting with a short hike up Chick Hill in Clifton, east of Bangor. Her pace was excruciatingly slow. But she did it.

“I remember that it was hard for me to get up Chick Hill,” she said, adding that she didn’t let that dissuade her. “You don’t get judged when you’re in the woods. You feel at home and comfortable and safe. I felt that nature was very nourishing. I almost felt that it cared about me.”

Over the summer, she kept on hiking. She set goals, and knew if she wanted to be strong enough to meet them she had to take care of herself.

“I had to eat really good food and start getting muscles,” Sarnacki said. “I started improving and getting much better. I think that spending time out in the wilderness, initially alone, and going on the hikes really helped me a lot. Spending time out in the wilderness really affected my health in a good way.”

It was a deeply personal journey, one she didn’t plan to write about. But her thesis advisor, Mimi Killinger ’04 Ph.D., reacted strongly when she saw how Sarnacki had changed when school began that fall.

“She started crying when she saw me,” Sarnacki said. “Initially, we just talked about what the heck happened that summer. I told her about spending time outside and how it had really affected me. She said, ‘That needs to be your thesis.’”

Killinger, an associate professor in the Honors College at the University of Maine and the Rezendes Preceptor for the Arts, said that she had been worried.

“I was concerned about her health,” the professor said, adding that when school started again, she was blown away. “Aislinn had transformed. I at that point asked, ‘What’s the story really about?’ And she said it was about getting healthy. Getting well. There’s just an authenticity there that’s incredibly powerful.”

Sarnacki ended up writing a deeply reported memoir for her Honors thesis about how hiking can affect a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health. The academic world often frowns upon first-person writing, but Killinger knew Sarnacki could pull it off.

“Aislinn stood out for being meticulous with her work, a voracious reader, a talented writer, and just had that quintessential Maine work ethic,” the professor said.

The thesis did not disappoint, and Killinger has used it as a resource over the years for other students coping with challenges.

“Aislinn’s story gave me access to information that made me a better educator,” she said.


‘Like I never left school’

Aislinn Sarnacki and her husband, Derek Runnells '09, pause during a hike on Borestone Mountain. Runnells often helps her film her 1-minute hike series, which appears on her blog Act Out with Aislinn.After Sarnacki graduated, she was hired as a copy desk intern at the Bangor Daily News. She did well there, quickly becoming a full-time reporter and then one of the paper’s first two bloggers. When her editor asked her for a topic for the weekly videos she needed to produce, it wasn’t hard to decide.

“I thought about what I knew about and what people might value, and what was inexpensive,” she said. “For hiking, you only need a pair of boots. So I went on a hike and I took a really terrible video.”

It was November — late in the hiking season. Sarnacki had to learn on the fly about winter hiking, photography, and videography. Eventually, the videos got better, and she began to learn who was watching and why. Initially, she figured hikers would use them as a trail resource, but she had another audience, too.

“I started to get feedback from a lot of viewers who were in their 70s and 80s, who were watching the videos as a way to get outside and see some of the places they maybe saw as kids,” she said.

In response, she changed how she documented her adventures. Now, if she finds an especially beautiful spot, she’ll pan the camera around, because she knows that there are people who simply want to virtually spend a little time in those places.

“I feel very lucky. I interact so much with readers,” Sarnacki said. “A lot of people email me through the blog to ask me questions or share stories. It’s really cool when they do that.”

Sarnacki’s work at the Bangor Daily News has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Bob Drake Young Writer Award, presented each year to a young journalist whose work demonstrates ability and great potential. She also was named the top features and lifestyle blogger in Maine by the Maine Press Association in 2014 and 2016.

“Aislinn has an incredible amount of knowledge about the Maine outdoors and Maine trails,” Sarah Walker Caron, the senior features editor at the Bangor Daily News, said. “She really opens up the door to the outdoors for our audience. I love hearing from people who do her hikes, or who live vicariously through them. Maybe they can’t hike anymore, but they can appreciate the outdoors through her.”

Sarnacki knew she wanted to write a book about hiking when her readers started showing up at sportsmen’s shows toting scrapbooks they had made by cutting out her columns and pasting them in. So far, she has written Family Friendly Hikes in Maine and Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path, both published in the last couple of years by Down East Books.

Over the last decade, her work has only solidified the idea that spending time outdoors can be a pathway to health.

Her most recent book is inspired by her dog, Oreo, who is so popular among readers as a character on her blog that she turned one of his paw prints into a custom-made stamp she uses to sign her books. It is called Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine and was published this spring.

After that, she hopes to tackle another project: rewriting and expanding her Honors thesis into a book. Over the last decade, her work has only solidified the idea that spending time outdoors can be a pathway to health. One reader, an overweight man with diabetes, told her that he followed every single hike and lost something like 100 pounds. Another, a woman who had cancer, said when she was at her sickest, the videos helped her get through.

“I teared up when she told me that,” Sarnacki said.

After years of hiking, writing, and sharing stories with Mainers and beyond, it’s clear that journalism has given her what she dreamed of when she was a student at the University of Maine.

“It’s what I hoped all along. It’s like I never left school, because journalists don’t necessarily write about what they’re experts in,” she said. “They write about what they don’t know anything about, or know much about, and so I’m constantly learning new things.”

He Changed the World



Chuck Peddle ’59, the Father of the Personal Computer He Changed the World By Clinton Colmenares

THERE ARE CERTAIN ALUMNI whose names are widely recognized by Black Bears of all generations. Stephen and Tabitha King. Bernard Lown. Cindy Blodgett. Raymond Fogler. Olympia Snowe.

Chuck Peddle’s name may not be among the most recognizable of UMaine alumni. But it deserves to be.

Before you could stream movies or access your bank account on your phone, before Google or Amazon or i-everything, even before Bill Gates or Apple’s two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) there was Chuck Peddle, a 1959 University of Maine graduate whose innovation and leadership made those activities, companies, and careers possible.

Peddle led the development of a revolutionary microprocessor known within the technology industry as “the 6502.” For a computer, a microprocessor is its electronic brain. The development of the 6502 made consumer-affordable personal computers possible — and changed the world.

“More than any other person, Chuck Peddle deserves to be called the founder of the personal computer industry,” wrote veteran technology journalist Phil Lemmons in the November 1982 issue of BYTE magazine. Lemmons, who went on to become editorial director of PC World Communications, Inc., said, “Peddle made the personal computer possible.”

“Chuck Peddle’s contribution to the world goes much further than the start of personal computers, to countless embedded processor applications,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told MAINE Alumni Magazine after learning that Peddle had been selected for UMaine’s 2019 Alumni Career Achievement Award. “Chuck’s name is totally famous among techies who go back to the start of our modern tech life.”

“Throughout his career, Chuck has been consistently ahead of the curve,” says Dana N. Humphrey, dean of UMaine’s College of Engineering. “Chuck may be known for his engineering prowess but he is also an industry visionary.”

Humphrey cites a handful of examples: Peddle’s role as “the driving force” behind the implementation of hard drives within personal computers. The now-ubiquitous gas pump credit card reader. And perhaps most notably, the development of “the 6502,” the microchip that made possible the world’s first personal computer, the Commodore PET, intentionally named to comfort tech-shy purchasers.

The Making of an Engineer

It’s a wonder at all that Chuck Peddle became an engineer, much less the father of personal computing. Growing up in a working-class family in Augusta, he says he never intended to go to college.

“I never planned on doing anything; we were just trying to survive because we were so broke,” he says.

“Chuck Peddle’s contribution to the world goes much further than the start of personal computers, to countless embedded processor applications. Chuck’s name is totally famous among techies who go back to the start of our modern tech life.” Steve Wozniak

The Monday following his high school graduation from Cony High School in 1955, his mother provided the first spark of motivation: She told young Charles to get out of bed and get a job. The employment office set him up with a road gang, swinging pick-axes and slinging shovels. He was no stranger to hard work; he had worked in mills, like his friends and others in his family. But there was a man on the crew who had worked his whole life laying down asphalt, who said the thing he most looked forward to in the world was when his landlady bought a quart of beer for him on Saturday so he could drink it on Sunday.

“This is bullshit,” he thought. “I want to do something with my life!”

So Peddle enrolled at UMaine, with a little help from then-President Arthur Hauck, who was aware of Peddle’s potential and arranged for him to receive a modest scholarship. Peddle studied engineering and made good grades. Still, as he entered his junior year, he says he still didn’t have a clue about what to do with his education.

One Class set him on Course

An engineer had joined the UMaine faculty from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he had worked with Claude Shannon, the legendary mathematician who introduced information theory to the world. Among many other breakthroughs, Shannon had demonstrated that Boolean algebra — the use of 1s and 0s — could translate into language. Peddle signed up for the new faculty member’s class on computer systems engineering.

“We studied the eye for four weeks, then we studied the ear for two weeks,” Peddle says. “He told us, ‘You can’t communicate with a human being until you know how they communicate.’”

Then, Peddle says, “He wrote down Boolean arithmetic. It was the first time I’d seen it. I was totally impressed. Then we started fooling with it, and I realized that what he was teaching me (was computer language).

“I was convinced computers were the future. I knew I wanted to do computers for the rest of my life.”

After a stint in the Marine Corps, Peddle went to work with General Electric, earning recognition as a world-class engineer during his 11 years with the company. He then joined Motorola and led the design of an early microprocessor, Motorola’s 6800. The technology was sound, but his potential customers — other tech companies — felt its $250 price tag was not cost effective.

Peddle relayed the feedback to Motorola with a plan to make a more affordable version of the 6800. The timing coincided with bits of information he had picked up from clients about a project  being worked on by Intel: development of a new generation of semiconductors, a necessary component of microprocessors that Peddle thought could revolutionize computing and make microprocessors less expensive to produce and cheaper for customers.

But his bosses at Motorola weren’t interested in making a cheaper device. Deeply discouraged, Peddle and a team of engineers went to work for another company in the microprocessor business, MOS Technologies. Within six months, they had created the 6502 with a consumer price of $25 — one-tenth the cost of the Motorola 6800. Soon after that, MOS Technologies — and, importantly, its Peddle-led engineering team — was purchased by Commodore Business Machines, a move that would soon make the company the global leader in personal computing.

Ground-breaking, History-making

In the early 1970s, two very different markets for computers existed — one for corporations that squeezed the expansive machines into specially air-conditioned rooms; and another for hobbyists, the do-it-yourselfers who hooked up circuit boards in their basement or garage to see what they could make happen.

Peddle was one of the few techies who understood that with the right features, price point, and marketing, personal computers would become a high-demand consumer product.

“Nobody believed us. Everybody thought we were crazy,” Peddle said recently from his home in Santa Cruz, California. “We took an idea and created an industry — a big industry.”

It’s a wonder at all that Chuck Peddle became an engineer, much less the father of personal computing. Growing up in a working-class family in Augusta, he says he never intended to go to college. 1960 University of Maine Prism, photo courtesy Special CollectionsRealizing Peddle’s vision for consumer-oriented personal computers required something that did not exist: an affordable, scalable microprocessor whose integrated circuitry could accomplish very complex activity. By 1975, Peddle and Commodore had come up with an answer: the 6502. Over the summer, they peppered trade publications with ads: In September, computer makers could buy their own 6502 for $25 at WesCon, an electronics show and convention in San Francisco.

The opportunity to buy Peddle’s cutting-edge processor attracted the attention of Apple co-founders Wozniak and Steve Jobs as well as many other members of the now-legendary Homebrew Computer Club, a group of techies who were instrumental in the eventual creation of  the Silicon Valley technology complex in northern California.

“The Intel chip cost close to $400 (then) in single quantities,” Apple co-founder Wozniak told MAINE Alumni Magazine. “Chuck’s marketing plan for the 6501/6502 processors was to offer them directly for $20 and $25 at WesCon in San Francisco. This was unheard-of marketing but those of us who were ready to start a revolution wouldn’t miss this chance.”

For Peddle, there was a last-minute glitch. Event organizers wouldn’t allow companies to sell items on the floor of the show. Ever the engineer, Peddle quickly created a work-around. He rented a suite at the nearby St. Francis Hotel, and directed customers there.

“I went to WesCon and I remember paying $20 in cash for the 6501 processor, not knowing what its architecture and features were,” Wozniak recalled. “I also paid $25 for a 6502, which was the same to me but with one great simplification. I also paid $5 for a manual.

“I paid this [in] cash directly to Chuck and his wife,” Wozniak added. “Many of us in the Homebrew Computer Club bought our first microprocessor chips from Chuck.”

Al Alcorn, the man who invented Pong, the very first video game, remembers seeing Peddle in San Francisco. “Steve Jobs was there, we were there, MOS was there with a barrel full of 6502 processors. It became obvious how important that processor was going to be to launch the personal computer industry. It turned semiconductors into an electronics industry.”

“Throughout his career, Chuck has been consistently ahead of the curve. Chuck may be known for his engineering prowess but he is also an industry visionary.” Dana N. Humphrey

The Rise of Commodore

All — yes, all — of the first successful home computing and gaming systems depended on the 6502.  Peddle’s microprocessor also drove the most successful personal computers of the 1970s and early 1980s: the Commodore PET, which debuted in 1977; the Commodore VIC, launched in 1980; and the Commodore 64, which hit the market in 1982 and remains the best-selling computer of all time.

“The PET is big news,” Personal Computing magazine reported in 1977. It described Peddle’s PET as “a clean break from commercial and hobbyist computer systems … into a consumer market.”

In that article, Peddle presented his vision for how personal computers would affect lives. He posited that personal computers would one day connect with and access information from other personal computers. (Keep in mind: He said this 13 years before the World Wide Web would become a thing.) He spoke about home-based education and self-help resources that could be accessed through computer applications; using computer games to teach computing skills at an early age; and the inevitability of computer-assisted remote shopping, bill-paying, and banking.

Even the way people watch TV programs would change as personal computers became commonplace, Peddle told the interviewer in 1977.

The Personal Computing article assessed Peddle’s prognostications and the Commodore PET’s appeal with cautious admiration. “This is an experiment on a grand scale,” the story declared. “It remains to be seen if the market [Peddle] predicted really exists or is imaginary.”  (Spoiler alert: Those market predictions proved real.)

Peddle later designed the VIC 20 and then the Commodore 64. The company was selling 22 million computers a year, far outpacing its competitors, and Peddle’s team won “computer of the year” for the PET and the C-64.

What made all of that possible, Peddle says, was simply the supply-and-demand principles of economics. Making computers affordable was perhaps the single most significant success that ushered in personal computing.

Eventually, his success at Commodore came at odds with Jack Tramiel, the company’s hard-charging founder and president.  Peddle was the young engineer getting all the attention, which, he suspects, rubbed the image-sensitive Tramiel the wrong way. The parting was not amicable, and Peddle later lost his Commodore stock in legal proceedings.

Still at Work

At 82 years of age, Peddle hasn’t stop­ped. Along with his longtime partner Kathleen Schaeffer, he shuttles between homes in northern California and Sri Lanka. He’s currently working on a new computer built around Flash memory that, he says, he can build 25 percent cheaper than competitors.
“This time I’m going to make money,” Peddle jokes.

The future for engineers, Peddle says, is combining robotics with the biomedical industry. He advises other tech innovators to follow the approach that helped him succeed: Look for ways to drive an industry by repurposing available technology. But even more important than technical skills, he says, is the same thing that set him apart from other engineers — having big ideas and the determination to pursue them.

“You take a dream, and you build a dream, and you keep building on it and you don’t let anybody stop you.”


BASIC Negotiating

Bill Gates today. Photo courtesy MicrosoftA seminal moment in the history of the Commodore PET occurred in a second-story office above a bank in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a young technology entrepreneur named Bill Gates had set up shop.

Gates had created something called Microsoft BASIC, a very user-friendly and versatile version of the most common programming language that computers use to perform functions. Chuck Peddle wanted the PET to run a custom version of BASIC that would optimize PET’s processing.

Demonstrating impressive business savvy, Peddle negotiated with Gates on a deal that has since become a noted reference point in the story of Gates’s career: a one-time, perpetual-use licensing fee of BASIC that practically gave away his product. In time Gates would readily acknowledge it was probably the worst deal he ever made.

Still, Gates and Peddle remained on good terms. Speaking at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Peddle offered what quickly became a much-cited assessment of technology’s two biggest figures at the time.

“There is nothing nice about Steve Jobs,” Peddle said, “and nothing evil about Bill Gates. Gates is a good man.”

Kachmar ’94 Receives 2019 Block “M” Award

The Alumni Association recently presented Jim Kachmar ’94 with a Block “M” Award for his leadership and participation in the Alumni Chapter of Southern Maine.

Kachmar’s involvement within the chapter also includes his service on the board, a term as president, and involvement in planning the chapter’s signature event, the Golf Classic. Using his network of alumni and business connections, Kachmar raised money for the chapter’s two endowed scholarships and offered his expertise to the Class of ’94.


UMaine Earns STARS Silver Sustainability Rating

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recently awarded the University of Maine its first STARS Silver Rating for recycling almost half of its waste, promoting student life opportunities such as the Green Living and Learning dorm floor, reducing water consumption, and several other initiatives.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) measures achievements in academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

UMaine’s report is available here.

International Alumni Reunion in DC

A group of international alumni recently reconnected in Washington, D.C.

Alumni in the photo are as follows: back row (left to right): Orlina Boteva ’04G, ’05G (Office of International Programs staff), Kannan Sockalingam ’00, ’02G, Shamarukh  “Malina” Mohiuddin ’03, Zeynep Turk ’95G; and bottom row: Brian Berger ’18 (OIP staff), Mireille Le Gal (OIP staff), and Grace Kiffney ’16 (study abroad alumna).

A ‘Jack of All Trades’ Turns to Writing

Jack Cashman ’73 has worn many hats in his adult life. A long career in the insurance and commercial real estate businesses. Magazine publisher. Old Town City Councilor and Maine State Legislator. Major policymaking roles as Special Advisor to Maine Governor John Baldacci ’86, State Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and Maine Public Utilities Commission Chairman.

Recently he added the title of published author following the release of An Irish Immigrant Story, a fictionalized account of families like his own who relocated to New England from Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now living in Hampden, Cashman explains how his UMaine experience influenced his desire to write.

I always wanted to write a book, even way back in my college days. With work and family, I never had time. When I started this book, time was still a consideration as was my ability to stick with it and finish. 

When I took English Composition at UMaine, my teacher was a graduate student named Phil Thibodeau from Aroostook County. I learned a great deal from him not only about writing but specifically about using my imagination to be more creative. He taught me more than I think he ever [realized]. 

I have always had a predilection for history, particularly Irish history. I also take a great deal of pride in the obstacles my own Irish ancestors have overcome. The courses I took on European history and American history were helpful in sharpening both my knowledge and interest in history. My favorite book about Ireland is Trinity [by Leon Uris], which I have read three times. Another favorite is Paddy’s Lament [by Thomas Gallagher], a great work about the Irish Famine that I used as a reference book.

I did a great deal of research around the great hunger and the Irish revolution while in Ireland as well as here in the U.S. I also did a lot of research on my own ancestors who came over during the famine. Both my Cashman ancestors and the Grady ancestors settled in Salem, Mass. after leaving Ireland in the 1840’s. Much of the accounts of the reception they received upon their arrival are in the book.

I set up a place in my home that would be quiet and conducive to writing but I did not set any particular time frame. I wrote when the spirit moved me and stayed writing as long as I was on a roll.

It took six months to finalize the manuscript. I wrote everything out with pen and paper. I can’t type so I had it typed by someone else. Then I would rewrite every chapter two or three times before I thought it was ready for a publisher. Once they agreed to publish it, the editing and page design took another six months.

I have a second book that will be out this fall, which is about two friends growing up in Maine in the 1960’s and how their lives were changed by the Vietnam war. I’m working on a third book that will have a government theme. After that, I’m not sure what the next one will be about. Probably not about business—that’s too boring. 


Online Site Helps Grads Manage Loan Debt

The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) has online resources for managing student loan debt.

In Maine, nearly 60 percent of college students surveyed in 2017 graduated with debt, and the average debt was $29,752. Maine graduates owe more in student loans than many of their peers, and have the 15th highest rate of college debt in the U.S.  

Managing student loan debt is important not only for individuals but also for the state’s workforce.

In an interview with CNN last fall, Nate Wildes ’12, executive director for Live + Work in Maine, acknowledged that “student loans are a big financial burden and emotional burden.”

To combat student loans consider, a FAME web resource to help inform or assist graduates in refinancing or consolidating student debt.


Leighton ’87G Ends 45-Year Career as Gouldsboro Educator

Sally Leighton ’87G, Peninsula School Principal and longtime Milbridge, ME resident, will retire from her career in education this month.

“I’ve just enjoyed [my work] so much,” she reflected in an interview with the Ellsworth American. “I’m really going to miss it. But it’s time.”

During her long career Leighton frequently explained to students why rules exist, and told them that they’d understand more when they were grown and had their own children. Past students frequently tell her, “you were right,” a statement she loves to hear.

Leighton began her career in 1974 as a teacher at the former Gouldsboro Grammar School. She went on to teach at Sumner Memorial High school, serving as a teacher, guidance counselor, and principal. She left there to become principal at Mount Desert High School and served for five years before returning to the Peninsula School.

Five years into her teaching position with the school Leighton moved into the principal position. Reflecting back, she says she’s grateful to have worked as both a teacher and an administrator because it helped her see how the pieces work together to make the whole.

Read more about Leighton here.