After graduating from the University of Southern Maine decades ago, I now work here and am proud of my alma mater.

Amid all the opinions published about the mechanics of running this institution, there is exciting educational opportunity offered at USM that is being totally overlooked. The engagement suggested in a recent Press Herald editorial between USM and businesses is already happening.

External advisory committees work regularly with USM to create rich opportunity for Maine businesses and students, including internships and partnership opportunities.

Research available to graduate students in other universities is offered to our undergraduates. The first STEM Honors Program in Maine is at USM, and students in the state’s largest nursing program — 545 at the graduate and undergraduate levels — are learning in a new nursing simulation lab.

The school launched a four-year degree in tourism and hospitality, as well as a doctor of nursing practice.

An applied energy program in a 19th century home in Gorham will study efficiency specific to the Northeast. On boats in the Gulf of Mexico, USM students and researchers undertook water tests and biopsies on 83 whales after the BP oil spill, and USM students have been invited to do bioinformatics paper presentations at national and international computer science conferences.

Others are working on software development key to managing health set data in Nigeria and Tanzania, and USM athletes are recognized nationally for academic excellence and community service. Our faculty serves more than 9,000 students in 115 areas of graduate and undergraduate study, and their achievements are remarkable.

So before anyone undermines the value and credibility of this fine university, I suggest they check out what is actually going on here and measure the top quality of USM graduates who teach in Maine classrooms, nurse in our hospitals, research in our labs and lead in our state’s businesses!

Bonnie Titcomb Lewis is a resident of Raymond.