Free Press: Why is the position of provost so important to you?
Lapping: Well, I did it before (laughs). I was provost from 1994 to the year 2000, and I had to retire from the position because I became very seriously ill. I lost my kidneys in that year and had to go on dialysis three times a week. I was on dialysis for about three and a half years, and managed to still keep up with my teaching. I continued to teach full-time. Then, four years ago, on August 10, I received a transplant. And so I have a new kidney-or a four-year-old kidney-and I’m doing very well.
FP: stunned into silence
Lapping: It is, in many ways I think, one of the most important jobs that anyone can have at the university. It’s really, in a sense, guiding and taking responsibility for the quality and the range of academic programs, which lie at the heart of any university.”
FP: Any new or exciting programs you wish to implement this year?
Lapping: I am going to try to bring a number of people from around the campus who have environmental interests and see if we can do some greater collaboration, particularly in the area of supporting undergraduate environmental research and.activities in the community, and strengthen environmental studies.I’d also like to work with various constituencies to make sure that the brand-new general education program-which I’m very excited about!-gets implemented and on its way. A third thing that I would like to do is, at the same time that we’re introducing our new general education program, to ask faculty to re-examine the quality of our majors and see ways to strengthen our majors programs as well as our general education.
FP: In for the long haul, huh?
Lapping: This is not a job that I want permanently! (laughs) I was very happy to be doing what I was doing before! (laughs) I was-well, I guess I still am-the university’s first distinguished professor.
FP: Can you tell us more about that?
Lapping: I teach at the Muskie School, at the master’s level and the PhD level, and I also teach at LAC (Lewiston/Auburn campus) in the leadership and organizational skills program, both at the baccalaureate level and at the master’s level. I love my teaching, I love my writing, I love my public service, and I’m doing this this year in part because I love it here at USM. This is where I’ve built most of my career and I feel very committed to this institution and to this community.