Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Botman begins

Posted on April 27, 2009 in News
By Dan MacLeod

Courtesy of USM

Last Saturday afternoon, Selma Botman marched down Bedford Street in Portland to the tune of a bagpiper.

After nearly one year as president of USM, Botman was sworn in at a formal ceremony attended by about 300 people. The event began as a processional lead by bagpiper and music education student Steven Lemiuex from the Wishcamper center to the Hannaford Lecture Hall in the Abromson Center.

Current and past colleagues of Botman celebrated the ceremony, which was emceed by new Provost Kate Forham. Dr. Leila Fawaz, a Harvard classmate of the president, and Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, reminded the crowd of Botman’s accomplishments as a scholar of Middle-Eastern history.

“Dr. Selma Botman has helped shape our understanding of the history of the modern Middle East and more broadly, helped define social history in modern times,” she said.

The investiture was replete with musical performances by USM students before, during and after the ceremony, as well as the reading of a poem specially written for the occasion by Dr. Annie Finch, the director of Stonecoast MFA.

UMaine System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude, who performed the official installation of Botman as president, reminded her that the job of president of USM extends beyond the students and faculty; it includes the people of Maine.

“We ask you to never forget that the university depends upon the confidence and support of the people of Maine,” he said. “Always remember it is the people’s business you do here.”

In her speech, Botman announced a $1 million scholarship endowment from the Osher family. The “Osher Reentry Scholarships” are for new or returning students who are struggled to earn their first degree while working and raising a family. The scholarships – which are intended for 25-50 year old students – will award $2,000 to 25 students each year.

Botman remained optimistic about the fate of the university, which currently faces a budget shortfall for the coming year of more than $4 million.

“When people say to me, ‘this period of economic distress must be a dreadful time to be a university president,’ I think of the 10,000 students at USM who depend on me and all of us in this academic community,” she said.

“Our students inspire me, and awaken a level of optimism and intellectual engagement that makes my work at USM a joy.”

Students’ artwork, and posters of research projects were featured in the conference rooms adjacent to the main lobby of the Abromson Center.

The ceremony, which was funded by private donors, concluded with a reception complete with a chocolate fountain, and platters of hors d’oeuvres.

After the ceremony, Pattenaude drew similarities between his life and Botman’s. One of the common threads between the two administrators is their humble beginnings, he said.

“My father was a bus driver, her father worked in a shoe factory,” he said.

“I think we share values in commitment to students, understanding the enormous importance of the university, but also in having our own lives transformed by higher education.”

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