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CONTACT:  John Diamond 207-973-3224 or Rita Sullivan 207-973-3245


28-Page Report Designed to Cultivate Better Public Understanding
of Higher Education's Role and Influence

BANGOR – Business and industry leaders. High school principals, guidance counselors,and academic department heads.  Doctors, lawyers, and accountants. State and local policy makers. Civic and community leaders.

Those are some of the many different groups of individuals who will soon receive a new publication of the University of Maine System designed to help Maine citizens better understand the role and value of the state's public universities.

Entitled "University of Maine System: Maine's Most Valuable Public Asset; The Catalyst For Maine's Future," the 28-page publication addresses a wide range of topics and aspects related to the University System's teaching, research, and public service mission areas .  The document is organized into five key sections relating to the University System's purposes and influence:

-       "Invigorating Maine's Economy"

-       "Improving Health and Well-being"

-       "Enriching Culture and the Arts"

-       "Protecting Maine's Environment"

-       "Providing Access to Education"

The report also includes facts about the University System's enrollment, revenues and expenditures, alumni profiles, and its vision for the future.

System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal, who commissioned the report, said it is intended to both educate the public and demonstrate the University System's value and public accountability.

 "A recent public opinion survey that we authorized found that Maine people strongly approve of, and appreciate, the University of Maine System's role as the State's principal provider of quality higher education," Westphal said.

"However, that research also showed that Maine people, as a whole, have relatively little understanding of our universities' role and influence as partners in economic development, policy analysis, environmental monitoring, and many other areas central to our mission," Westphal explained. "Those findings indicated to us that we need to do more to communicate with the public about what our universities  do and they numerous ways they improve Maine and its quality of life."

Westphal emphasized that the report is one of several tools the University System plans to implement in response to the survey findings. He said that one of the nine key elements of the University System's strategic plan focuses on creating greater public understanding and support for the University System and its member institutions.   

"The research we commissioned indicated that the public wants to know more about our broad mission and productivity," Westphal explained. "This publication provides important information about how Maine’s tax dollars and tuition dollars help our universities promote and improve Maine's educational, cultural, and economic well-being."

The report was produced by the University System's Office of External Affairs.  Target audiences include categories of people who, through their work and community involvement, can help advance the University System's objectives of increased student enrollment, public and private funding, and increased partnerships with the public and private sectors. 

Members of the Maine Legislature received an advance copy of the report in February, with another 6,500 copies being distributed this week. Westphal said the report is also available to the public over the Internet at

"We are asking everyone who receives it to read it and help us spread the word about our universities' quality, effectiveness, and value," he added.  "With that help, our universities will be in an even stronger position to help address Maine’s many key challenges and opportunities."

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System is the state's largest educational provider, with more than 34,300 students enrolled. It features seven universities – some with multiple campuses -- located across the state, as well as 11 University College outreach centers and more than 100 interactive distance education sites. For more information, log onto