Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Our opinion: USM needs to keep impacting programs, not just money makers

Posted on October 07, 2014 in Our Opinion, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Last week President Flanagan was appointed as a member of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, which he hopes will help in bringing in ideas of community engagement and closer professional relationships with businesses and companies in the region at large.

Flanagan urged the attendees to invest in USM and realize that there is a lot of potential to unlock with the UMaine system’s academic resources as a whole. The seven colleges in the UMaine system each have their own individual academic strengths and weaknesses but it seems that the administration wants to compile all the resources into one searchable, educational community. Flanagan’s vision sees a future where an employer looking for a skilled laborer can access a statewide portfolio that provides a list of services from certain departments, no matter where they are in the state.

It would also be incredibly beneficial for a students learning experience if they could log onto a website, and have access to the best programs and teachers, even if they are on a completely different campus. Our rapidly progressing technology could certainly make this digital academic portal a reality, we just don’t want it to replace actual interactions between professors and students, because that’s where the real learning usually happens. Technology can make learning a lot more accessible, but don’t turn USM into a “Netflix University” where you can earn a degree by lying in your bed eating Doritos.

We think it’s important for USM and the rest of the schools in the system to become a more critical option when employers are looking for workers to fill up their job openings. During a four year experience at college, a lot of students have a hard time truly realize what kind of career they should forge. If outside employers spend more time tabling on campus, sponsoring career related events and offering more internships and work-study jobs, it could make the transition between graduation and the real world a lot less terrifying.

USM does need to be engaged with the greater Portland community, we just hope that the nature of the engagement doesn’t solely benefit potential employers and also takes students goals and ambitions into considerations.

Flanagan said that his new business model involves concentrating on “purer” areas like science, technology, engineering and the health professions because those academic departments foresee the most job growth. We hope that USM isn’t choosing its academic focus solely based on entrepreneurial goals. Sure students in those concentrations should be given some help entering the job market and connecting with professionals. But won’t their transition be easier than most students anyway, seeing as they’ve majored in such a desirable field?

Let’s not forget about the academic departments that so many students are so deeply passionate about: arts, classics, history, theatre and women and gender studies, to name a few. These focuses help make Portland prosperous, vibrant and interesting. Portland’s got a vibrant creative community, so let’s not minimize that curriculum just because some other areas are more profitable.

USM just needs to work on marketing itself better as a whole, without  focusing on just a couple of entrepreneurial areas, but all the diverse options that makes USM interesting and unique.

Our Opinion is written by the Free Press editorial board.

 

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