Remarks of the presidents

Regarding the Presidents’ Fourth of July Declaration on the Civic Responsibilities of Higher Education.

Andover College

We at Andover College wholeheartedly support and applaud The Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education. Our mission at Andover College has always been to help students understand how they can powerfully contribute to society. In the last decade our administration, faculty, staff, and students have formally and informally reached out to our community’s schools, organizations, and individuals in an effort to further this objective. Our joining together for a purpose that benefits the community has strengthened our internal and external relationships and partnerships and has made us thirsty for more. We reaffirm our commitment to continue and expand our efforts in this regard so that every employee and every student has the opportunity to see the benefit and importance of civil awareness and community involvement.

Marylin Newell, President

Bates College

The President’s Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education 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 link education with service, leadership and obligations beyond themselves.”

Connecting learning to the expression of action in the service of others is an essential element of study and discovery in the liberal arts, deepening and ennobling the experience.

However, connecting liberal learning to the community through research and service, and honing civic responsibility do not diminish other essential elements of higher education — viz. the obligation to challenge, to consider contrary perspectives, and to question convention and structure. Encouraging “engaged contrarians” reinforces civic responsibility and does not diminish it; it is a “twin” obligation in providing a context for both individual expression and development, and the cultivation of responsibility to others.

Donald W. Harward, President

Bowdoin College

I am proud to join my colleagues in support of the Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education. It has long been a canon of Bowdoin College that “…literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good, and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education.” These words, spoken at the dawn of the Republic by Bowdoin’s first president, Joseph McKeen, have guided this college for two centuries. They have served to remind us of our origins, of the vision, sacrifices, and determination of our many graduates and faculty who have subordinated self to higher goals, and of a greater purpose in our day to day lives, especially during times of relative comfort and prosperity. Today, nearly three-quarters of our students are involved in community service during their time here, translating last year alone to 11,000 volunteer hours. Our faculty and staff provide their time and talents to local health organizations, churches, schools, and community groups and work with state and local experts on economic, environmental, and health issues. Each fall, on Common Good Day, the entire college community is encouraged to come together to work on service projects throughout our local area. And each June, Bowdoin alumni recognize one of their own with an honor linked to service, the Common Good Award. Senator George J. Mitchell, a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1954, reminds us that “…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.” I believe that search – which never ends – is best done in partnership with our communities, and that’s why I welcome the opportunity presented by the Presidents’ Declaration to underscore Bowdoin’s commitment to the ideals of service and the practice of civic engagement.

Barry Mills, President

Colby College

Colby and Waterville have grown up together over 180 years and each has had a significant influence on the other. When the College elected to move its entire campus in the 1930s, local citizens purchased the Mayflower Hill site and gave it to the College. The College has continued to provide myriad opportunities for its generous neighbors and for the past decade or more has, through volunteerism and curricular programs, expanded outreach programs to area communities, especially the local schools. The Maine Campus Compact is an excellent way in which to affirm the fact that the mission of any college – perhaps especially a liberal arts college – must embrace and underscore the importance of active, positive citizenship. Colby’s own stated mission calls for its students to assume leadership roles as both students and citizens and one of its 10 educational “precepts” requires that students “explore the relationships between academic work and one’s responsibility to contribute to the world beyond the campus.”

William D. Adams, President

Eastern Maine Technical College

The role and responsibility of Eastern Maine Technical College is to provide an educated work force for the State of Maine. Believing that an educated work force requires a broadly based education and skills for continuous learning, the founders of the college crafted a philosophy valuing a balanced and comprehensive educational opportunity — technical proficiency, communications and problem solving, and social understanding and responsibility. Today, that philosophy continues to guide the college and reflects a deep concern for the social and economic health of the state. To facilitate the development of civic responsibility, courses and support services are designed to foster an understanding and appreciation for the complex issues facing a changing society.

The mission of Eastern Maine Technical College is to provide the highest quality technical, career, and transfer education and to serve as a dynamic community resource. The Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education reflects the Eastern Maine Technical College educational philosophy and reinforces our commitment to be a “dynamic community resource” through volunteerism, leadership opportunities and outreach activities in the communities we serve.

Joyce B. Hedlund, President

Kennebec Valley Technical College

The mission of Kennebec Valley Technical College defines the institution’s role in providing for student development inspired by shared values of integrity and community service. We are pleased to join our colleagues in signing the Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education. This document serves to reaffirm the College’s commitment toward preparing students for active citizenship.

Barbara W. Woodlee, President

Maine College of Art

Maine College of Art (MECA) believes strongly that the creativity of individual artists and art institutions is an essential resource for the innovative ideas and fresh energy required to address the challenges that face our communities and society today. The benefit to artists of civic engagement is profound, as students see first-hand how their art can impact the world beyond the studio, gallery and museum and learn from experience that there is an important social context in which they exercise their aesthetic and creative vision.

As the only professionally accredited college of art and design in northern New England, located at the heart of Maine’s largest city, MECA has a long tradition of playing an active role in its community. Our innovative Art In Service program founded in 1989, the pro bono services

we provide local businesses, and the numerous public art projects executed in downtown Portland demonstrate the potential and power of the “artist as citizen,” fully engaged with economic, social and cultural issues of the community. As a major catalyst in the revitalization of downtown Portland, our renovation of the landmark Porteous Building links us inextricably and very visibly with the success and vitality of our urban community.

We are proud to sign this Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education, and welcome the partnerships that are possible across all educational institutions as we work to educate tomorrow’s citizens.

Christine J. Vincent, President

Saint Joseph’s College

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, tax collectors ask Peter: “Does your master not pay the temple tax?” This was a tax required by all adult males for the maintenance of the temple in Jerusalem and represented active membership in the community. Jesus’ response is unequivocal: he tells Peter to go to the lake, throw in a line, and take out the first fish he catches. “Open its mouth and you will discover there a coin worth twice the temple tax, “ He says. “Take it and give it to them for you and me.” (Mt 17:24-27) The message is clear: Christians are meant to be engaged in their community, not separated or aloof from it. As a Roman Catholic college sponsored by the religious Sisters of Mercy, Saint Joseph’s College is therefore called to active engagement with our society. In the same way that Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, expressed her faith in and commitment to the Gospels by reaching out and helping the poor in 19th century Dublin, so we must today express our faith by responsible, informed engagement with our communities. Particularly through service learning, volunteer work, and a commitment to participation in the civic life of our surrounding communities, students, faculty and staff at Saint Joseph’s College respond energetically to the question posed by the Apostle James: “what good is it to profess faith without practicing it?” This is the spirit in which I sign on behalf of the Saint Joseph’s College community the Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education.

David House, President

Southern Maine Technical College

Southern Maine Technical College is both proud and humbled to stand with our colleagues and reaffirm our commitment to teaching through community partnerships.

Southern Maine Technical College students demonstrate, time and time again, that their learning is stronger and more meaningful when practical opportunities are made available: Teaching nursing home patients to communicate via e-mail; doing home repairs for those who can’t; tutoring and mentoring at risk youth; providing safety training to pre-schoolers; incubating fledging environmental industries; and volunteering on clean water actions are just a few projects Southern Main Technical College’s faculty and students are involved with every day.

It is the goal of Southern Maine Technical College to continue to discover new ways to educate our students for the careers of tomorrow through active citizenship in the world they now inherit.

Wayne Ross, President

Unity College

Unity College accepts that its civic responsibility is a leadership role in the stewardship of the earth. Students must be ready to recognize and address the challenges posed by a global society that is varied in its cultures, conditions and environments. Our future rests in the hands of our students, so it is our duty to empower them to be active members of society. Unity College does this by providing students with opportunities to participate in hands-on, active learning.

It is with great pride that I join my colleagues in signing this Presidents’ Declaration of the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education.

David Glenn-Lewin, President

University of Maine

The University of Maine, true to its land-grant heritage, is committed to public service and to improving the quality of human life. Its faculty members, staff members, and graduate and undergraduate students contribute to improving our society through research, education, and direct community service. By enrolling at the University of Maine students are committing themselves to working for a better, more just, more tolerant society. The formal curriculum contributes to this goal, but much of the liberalizing and citizenship-building experiences occur outside the classroom where student service and service learning are especially important. The University of Maine thus endorses the Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education and the continuing work of the Maine Campus Compact.

Peter Hoff, President

University of Maine at Augusta

Charles Lyons, Interim President

University of Maine at Farmington

Our graduates do the work of the world. UMF students will learn something of humanity’s heritage and find their callings, go out into the world and seek their fortunes, or create them.

But where will they go out from? An ivory tower? A neutral space? No….they 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.

The Presidents’ Declaration on Civic Responsibility of Higher Education reaffirms our commitment to this ideal. I’m happy to join Maine colleagues at this event. —

President Theodora J. Kalikow

University of Maine at Fort Kent

The Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education speaks strongly to the mission of the University of Maine at Fort Kent. The unique setting of the University–spanning the US-Canadian border and addressing the needs of the multi-cultural St. John Valley–makes civic involvement an essential part of the University. Our students are educated to appreciate the role they play in their communities. The citizens of the Valley appreciate the many roles the campus plays in their lives. The dedication this September of Nadeau Hall, home of the Northern Maine Center for Rural Health Sciences and the Northern Aroostook Center for Technology speak to this symbiotic relationship.

Donald Zillman, Interim President

University of Maine at Machias

Many of the most important issues our students will face after graduation relate directly or indirectly to the delicate balance between community interests and individual rights. Amitai Etzioni’s work has underscored the increasing importance of this balance and the critical role education plays in preparing individuals to address the many related personal and social issues. Higher education in particular has an obligation to prepare society’s future leaders for the challenges of the tension between the common good and individualism.

The Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education is particularly important at this critical time because it helps define the key role higher education plays in educating young people for membership and leadership in a dynamic society. We at the University of Maine at Machias are pleased to join with other institutions committed to fostering a sense of civic responsibility through service learning strategies.

John H. Joseph. President

University of Maine at Presque Isle

The University of Maine at Presque Isle values the concept of civic engagement. Civic responsibility is an integral part of our academic programs and co-curricular activities. Last fall, the University adopted a Statement of Commitment for students and employees. The Statement asks members of the university community to commit to open inquiry and civil expression, listen respectfully to the viewpoints of others, and to participate responsibly in the life of the community. Our student-designed honors program includes a requirement for community service and many of our academic majors include community-based components. Our mission statement commits us to educating our students for public service which promotes the well- being of the state’s citizenry, and a global consciousness. We are pleased to join our sister institutions in signing the Presidents’ Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education.

Nancy Hensel, President

University of New England

At the University of New England we feel very strongly about education for civic responsibility. Our fourth year undergraduate theme “Citizenship” prepares students to make a difference in the world, their communities, and their professions. During their seminar, students discuss the personal and public responsibilities they anticipate and share their concerns for the world they are about to enter. They are then required to participate in community service or civic activity.

Each year our University of New England seniors contribute approximately 2500 hours of volunteer service to the community. In addition, many are required by their programs to provide additional community service through internships.

We believe that civic responsibility requires more than simply volunteering time, however. It also requires understanding what the issues are that create the need for volunteer service. We hope to educate our students to understand the important roles they will be assuming in their communities and in our world.

Sandra Featherman, President

University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine, the state’s largest and most comprehensive public undergraduate institution, located in the population, business and service center of the state, has a unique role of civic engagement and service to the communities of southern Maine. With curricular and co-curricular support and strong community partnerships, USM students are working to help elementary school children read, immigrants settle in their new home, low income neighborhoods organize for community economic development, health care, and family support services, youth stay in school, homeless have shelter, meals and clothing, families have affordable homes.

We accept the challenge to contribute to the reinvigoration of democracy through civic engagement in service. We welcome genuine community partnership and guard academic integrity as we continue to work this year and the years ahead to create a culture of service at the University of Southern Maine.

Richard L. Pattenaude, President

View Comments