Maine college presidents join Sen. George Mitchell in declaring civic commitment

The presidents of 18 Maine institutions of higher education joined former Sen. George Mitchell on Sunday, Aug. 19, to publicly commit their colleges and universities to a deeper involvement in civic responsibility to their communities. More than six presidents were on hand at a ceremony to sign a declaration through Maine Campus Compact, a consortium of the institutions committed to the civic purposes of higher education.

The Presidents’ Fourth of July Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education calls on Maine campuses to examine and expand their commitment to their communities. The presidents will join more than 450 campuses nationwide to respond to the growing cynicism and lack of trust among students about government and the political process. Several recent studies have highlighted the problem, including a 1998 report by the National Association of Secretaries of State which found less than 15 percent of college-age people voted in the last national election.

The declaration addresses two needs: the first for higher education to develop students to become responsible citizens and the second for campuses to be good citizens in their own communities. The document was developed as a call to action and adopted during a national meeting of college presidents held in Aspen, Colo., last summer.

According to Mitchell, “…higher education is the only institution in our society which has as its central purpose the continued reexamination of our society’s assumptions, the constant review of our past and the search for a better future.”

Donald W. Harward, president of Bates College and Maine Campus Compact co-chair says, “The declaration gives voice to our shared responsibility to ‘educate students for citizenship.’ Bates College’s mission and values echo this historic role in noting that ‘Bates graduates have linked education with service, leadership and obligations beyond themselves.'”

According to Theodora Kalikow, president of the University of Maine at Farmington and Maine Campus Compact co-chair, students “will be most successful if they leave an engaged campus that models best practices for its own growth and change, a campus community that reaches out into the wider world for active learning and teaching opportunities, giving and receiving through the work of students, faculty and staff.”

Presidents either signing the document today and/or submitting statements in support of the declaration include: Marylin Newell, Andover College; Donald Harward, Bates; Barry Mills, Bowdoin College; William Adams, Colby College; Joyce Hedlund, Eastern Maine Technical College; Barbara Woodlee, Kennebec Valley Technical College; Christine Vincent, Maine College of Art; David House, Saint Joseph’s College; Wayne Ross, Southern Maine Technical College; Sandra Featherman, University of New England; David Glenn-Lewin, Unity College; Peter Hoff, University of Maine; Theodora Kalikow, University of Maine at Farmington; Charles Lyons, University of Maine at Augusta; Donald Zillman, University of Maine at Fort Kent; John Joseph, University of Maine at Machias; Nancy Hensel, University of Maine at Presque Isle; and Richard Pattenaude, University of Southern Maine.

Maine Campus Compact is a consortium of 18 of Maine’s higher education institutions led by their presidents to integrate service and civic responsibility throughout the academic and student life goals of their institutions. Founded in 1994, Maine Campus Compact is affiliated with Campus Compact based at Brown University, with a national membership of more than 700 college and university presidents.

Read a transcript of the president’s remarks.

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