In his Aug. 14 “Maine Voices” column L. Morrill Burke aptly emphasized academic success and student responsibility (“If USM is to be a teachers’ college again, why all the frills?).

I am concerned, however, at his misleading and often simply false assumptions. It is not the case that the University of Southern Maine will “revert” to a teachers college.

Quite the contrary: Education will be integrated with disciplines. It is difficult to think of a more important goal for our society than the training of teachers fully prepared in general education and an in-depth discipline, as well as in teaching.

Offering undergraduate teacher training in this way recognizes the essential interrelationship of knowledge and methodology.

Moreover, there are no logical connections among Burke’s criticisms of teacher education, the president’s syntax, education as a product or student responsibility.

I wish there had been some fact checking before these opinions were jumbled together without reason or any evidence that they apply to current planning at USM. They do not.

President Selma Botman is deeply engaged in the university. She listens and discusses issues and provides many forums on sustaining USM’s academic core while addressing financial difficulties; her columns in the Press Herald are a welcome voice about the future of education.

She works hard, stays connected and makes the university better known and appreciated.

Let me give a personal example: I teach writing at many levels, from first-year students to faculty in a summer seminar, and I invited President Botman to sit in.

To my surprise and appreciation, she took the time to attend a senior class in rhetoric and a faculty seminar, and she participated with interest and rich insights.

This kind direct participation in the work of faculty and students is rare. It reveals President Botman’s commitment to a serious university education. And, having taught syntax for decades, I wish to add that hers is first-rate.


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