“Is there anything going on in the summer?” Those of us in higher education hear that question a lot during the summer months. The answer may be surprising to many who think that their university closes its doors between commencement and the start of the new academic year.

In fact, more than 500 course offerings are on the books at USM for the summer of 2012, ranging from organic chemistry and critical and creative thinking to nature-based tourism and 19th-century U.S. history. Some 4,000 students will enroll in courses for academic credit by the end of August, although courses also attract local residents and even high school students.

There also are an astounding variety of special programs focused on topics as diverse as sports psychology, creative writing and book arts.

An intensive weeklong summer workshop, “Book Arts at the Stone House,” is for those who want to study the art form that dates back to medieval bookbinding and now encompasses the work of artists who create hand-printed books and other unique handmade volumes. The work of students will be showcased in an exhibition scheduled to open in September at our Glickman Family Library.

USM’s Stone House on Casco Bay in South Freeport also is the setting for the annual Stonecoast Writers’ Conference, a workshop that gives students the opportunity to hone their skills in the genres of the novel, poetry, nonfiction/memoir and short fiction. Lectures and readings complement the one-on-one and small-group instruction from published authors, including USM associate English professor Dianne Benedict and assistant English professor and conference director Justin Tussing.

Professional actors, directors, experienced community actors and advanced students will gather in Gorham for a weeklong graduate-level certificate program in the “Acting Techniques of Michael Chekhov.”

USM theater professor Wil Kilroy has offered seminars throughout the nation on the famous actor’s style.

For the first time in a number of years, we also are scheduling music and theater campus for elementary, middle and high school students.

Eighth-graders and high school students will be on the Gorham campus in late June for the Southern Maine Theatre Academy, while fifth- and sixth-graders will participate in the Southern Maine Youth Band Day Camp. Next month, middle and high school students will take advantage of the Southern Maine Music Academy and the Southern Maine Junior Music Academy.

Our popular sports summer camps offer weekend, day and overnight camp in such basketball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse and field hockey for youngsters of all ages and skill levels.

More than 20 years ago, USM psychology professor Bill Gayton established a summer psychology institute so that students and community-based professionals could hear nationally known experts present on aspects of their psychology research and practice. We now offer weeklong institutes on adult and childhood psychopathology, health psychology and sport psychology. The latter is especially timely this summer, as the head of the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Department will be on campus for a presentation titled “Executing Under Pressure: Theory and Practice at the Vancouver and London Olympics.” Sean McCann, who works with coaches and athletes on “mental skills training,” has traveled with the U.S. Olympic team for the last six Olympic Games.

Of course, like many institutions, we also offer a range of summer travel courses. Though not everyone can afford the time or money needed to enroll, this “learning on the road” approach, with courses lasting anywhere from one to four weeks, offers learning and life experiences that come from the immersion in other cultures.

USM’s offerings include a master’s-level business course in the form of a study tour of Denmark that focuses on the development and sustainability of that nation’s well-documented use of renewable energy sources. Nursing and athletic training students, with other volunteers, will be spending nearly two weeks in the Dominican Republic, providing basic health care and education to some 2,000 residents of 15 mountain villages. Our oldest summer abroad program, “Criminology in Sweden,” dates back to the mid 1980s. It offers fascinating perspectives on how that country addresses and controls criminal behaviors.

And while on the subject of fascinating perspectives, a new study abroad course will give students a firsthand, behind-the-scenes look at the cultural and sports phenomenon known as the Olympic Games. USM’s Sport Management Program is an increasingly popular major that prepares students for management and marketing careers in the world of sports at the international, national or local levels. This summer, the course, “London 2012: Management, Marketing and the Cultural Olympics,” will allow students “to assess how management and marketing strategies are applied in a unique environment.”

I invite you to visit “USM Summer” at www.usm.maine.edu/summer. It is the season in which we use our intellectual resources and infrastructure to give students a jump on coursework and chances to stretch out into new pursuits.


Selma Botman is president of the University of Southern Maine. She can be contacted at: [email protected]