Task force aims to revitalize the Gorham campus

Students board a bus in Gorham. A task force has been formed to look at ways in which to revitalize the Gorham campus community.
Casey Ledoux
Students board a bus in Gorham. A task force has been formed to look at ways in which to revitalize the Gorham campus community.

Posted on October 03, 2011 in News
By Kathryn Rodway

USM President Selma Botman has formed a task force to examine ways to stimulate a more vibrant community on the Gorham campus. The task force met for the first time Friday, with members brought ideas to the table and started to create a strategic plan.

Their first goals are to bring more classes to Gorham, develop strategies to keep students on campus and create a more vibrant community in Gorham, according to Student Body President Chris Camire, a member of the group.

“Today was a very successful first meeting,” said Camire. “I was able to voice several student concerns and they were welcomed by the group. The members of the task force are energetic and determined about moving forward towards our goal for Gorham.”

The task force is chaired by Director of Public Affairs Bob Caswell, and is made-up of 18 to 19 administers, faculty and two students. In addition to Camire, Student Senate Chair Morgan DeBlois was originally tapped for the task force, though she declined due to prior commitments. A replacement has not yet been found to replace DeBlois.

According to Caswell, the focus of the task force is to improve the Gorham campus, to attract and retain more students. “When you boil it down to its essence, is to take a hard look at the Gorham experience” said Caswell. “This process is just an outgrowth of student success, which is an ongoing process.”

The task force will meet each Friday until Nov. 4, and shortly after they will present their recommendations to President Selma Botman. “We may see changes as soon as spring semester or as late as next year,” said Caswell.

Camire said he thought it was important that students were asked to be on the task force. “I’m really excited that they want to include students. I think it’s obligatory to have a student voice on the task force” he said. Camire said he intends to hold student concerns forums to hear what issues are important to students in Gorham.

According to Caswell, the results the task force presents to Botman must be fiscally sustainable, academically sound and student success must be central.

Camire said the main focus for residential students is to not only increase residency but to keep students on Gorham campus. Camire said these changes could include maintenance on dorms such as replacing furniture and offering what he called “carbon copies” of classes. “Right now some classes are only offered on one campus. This carbon copied classes would allow students to not have to leave the Gorham campus,” said Camire.

Classes could also be distributed so that campuses have concentrated core areas so that majors are more distributed. “This would make it easier for commuters because they would not have to travel to Gorham,” said Camire. According to Caswell, there is already a committee working on redistributing classes, and a dozen more classes will be offered in Gorham next semester.

Caswell said that the task force needs to look at the problems Gorham faces. “We need to identify wrong, what barriers prevent us from making improvements,” he said.

According to Camire there is a lot of opportunity for improvement in Gorham. “I am keeping a positive outlook on this situation,” he said “There are a lot of people that are dedicated to making Gorham better and I believe this will happen” said Camire.

Caswell said the Gorham campus has already seen significant changes in recent years changes have already taken place. Within the last decade, there has been a new athletic complex built, an expansion of the John Mitchell Center, improvements to Russell Hall and additions to the art studios in Gorham.

Caswell said revitalizing Gorham is not a new issue. “Within the last five years there have been studies to improve the fine and preforming arts and there was a task force ten years ago which also focused on the revitalize of the Gorham campus” he said. Caswell said this new initiative will achieve tangible results. “We have a president with a laser like focus on student success, and she is taking an interest in the Gorham campus, so we will see changes,” he said.