December 22, 2011

Letters to the editor, Dec. 22, 2011
USM's offerings unfairly overlooked

When my daughter was looking at schools a decade ago, we did the New England tour. She settled on the University of Southern Maine because it gave her the best faculty for the buck, frankly, in spite of having been offered a four-year ride at a private college in New Hampshire.

click image to enlarge

Students eat and read at the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus. “USM is a great school in an exciting part of the state,” one reader says.

2011 File Photo/John Patriquin

When I returned to my own lapsed education, there was no question in my mind that I would choose USM, where I am currently pursuing a degree in the humanities and looking onward to the master's in leadership program at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College. After reading a recent Maine Sunday Telegram story ("UMaine System seeks more students," Dec. 11), one might wonder why.

The late Steve Jobs once said of Apple, "we always try to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both." Specialties are important, but the ability to understand what is transferable between specialties is architectural vision.

Portland is no different than Boston in terms of competitive atmosphere; the question is, for whom are you competing? Maine does not need another community college, which is, frankly, how the university system has treated USM.

USM is a great school in an exciting part of the state with a load of great scholars doing interesting and innovative work. That message will bring students to campus.

Just one woman's opinion.

Martha Sterling-Golden

past president, Women's Campaign School at Yale University

Topsham

I've been struck by the declining enrollment figures at USM. An important point you made in your Dec. 16 editorial ("USM should fill dorms with students from away") was that USM has to consider its branding. I agree, and have felt all along that a significant part of the solution is obvious, but has been missed.

As a former investment adviser, I counseled clients to consider both sides of an investment before making a decision to invest. The same is applicable, and often so at a subconscious as well as a conscious level, in selecting a college.

It is, "When I graduate, will the college name and its recognition (or lack thereof) help or hinder me in job hunting?" It is always a part of the equation.

I strongly believe that USM should be renamed "University of Maine, Portland." That will psychologically equate it with the other 49 state university systems nationally in the eyes of potential students, and in the eyes of potential employers upon their graduation. USM simply sounds like it's on a lower level, unfortunately.

With the name change, and Maine's special place in the hearts of Americans and foreigners alike, the former USM will be better equipped to build a broader and more stable base of interested students, and for their future employers. It's not the whole solution, but it will work wonders, I believe.

George Barber

Yarmouth

My congratulations to USM President Selma Botman for articulating what "oft was thought but ne'r so well expressed" in her incisive commentary, "Liberal arts degrees prepare students to thrive in real world" (Dec. 5).

At a time when the value of any college degree is being seriously questioned in the media, she points out convincingly the inherent benefits not only of the traditional liberal arts degrees, but of the core baccalaureate degree experience itself that extends far beyond any vocational training program – the "preparation for a lifetime of personal and professional success."

Thanks for reminding us just what the point of a college education is.

Jeffrey Roberts, Ph.D.

professor emeritus,

Worcester State University

South Portland

Maine's first lady gracious representative of her state

I felt compelled to write this letter on behalf of the first lady of the state of Maine, Ann LePage.

Mrs. LePage was on the same trip I was on: the official Wreaths Across America Escort from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery.

During the eight-day trip, I had many opportunities to speak with Mrs. LePage. She always represented herself and the state of Maine in high and professional standards.

More importantly, Mrs. LePage was polite to and considerate of everyone she came into contact with. There were several instances that Mrs. LePage demonstrated extreme compassion and consideration for others.

At each hotel we stopped at to check in and stay the night, Mrs. LePage made sure that everyone went in front of her, and that they did not have to wait in line for her.

You must understand when the official escort of more than 100 people would enter the hotel, it was time-consuming and hectic. Mrs. LePage always remained cheerful, polite and understanding of the situation.

Many times she commented to me that it was about the honoring of veterans and caring for others that was important to her, and that is why she made the trip.

Mrs. LePage was traveling with a state trooper for security, and at no time did she ever use her position as the first lady to receive any type of preferential treatment. I was impressed with her character and wanted to make sure that the people in the state of Maine know what type of person they have representing them.

Oftentimes we read in the press about the abuse of power or abuse of a political office. It was comforting to see good old-fashioned citizenship in action.

Michael A. Calenda

Danielson, Conn. 

Shabby 'lobster' will make poor impression on visitors 

I drive down to the Old Port section of Portland several times a week. It's a lovely area, especially this time of year, with all the lights and decorations. Even in the warmer months, with the sounds of the working waterfront, it's enjoyable.

I imagine that many visitors are impressed with this area of Portland as well, just by the sheer numbers of people I see milling about.

Then I see this "thing" in a dirty, worn, red costume that says, "Eat Me." OK, OK, I know it's a lobster, but if I were from "away," I would be scared of it.

How old is that costume? Who is it representing?

Don't get me wrong – I like the idea of a lobster being a mascot to the Old Port. But can somebody please, please buy that guy a new costume?

Patti Campbell

Portland

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