Bean's Bearings – Welcome Back to USM
We're finally back home at USM; we most certainly have missed you since our sudden departure from campus last March. That was a challenging time for everyone, particularly our track and wrestling athletes already on-site and scheduled to compete at their respective NCAA National Championships and for our golf team, scheduled to compete in the NCAA National Championship in Florida in May. Our spring student-athletes left USM with unfilled promises and our fall competitors are currently facing the same situation. Winter sports are on hold for now as we work with various conferences and governing agencies to see how we may safely return to competition. We will begin slowly with our teams and student-athletes, following all appropriate guidelines. Skill sessions, strength and conditioning activities and physically distanced practices will be the early rule. We will progress as circumstances allow; let's hope things will move in a positive direction as soon as possible.
My special welcome goes out to all of our first-year student-athletes; welcome to our USM Husky community, I hope you will enjoy your experience with us, we look forward to meeting you and helping you to be successful. We begin this year with a very unusual backdrop and set of circumstances. We are in the midst of a pandemic, as the world including the Unites States is facing a health crisis of epic proportion. As we move forward, our goal is to make good decisions as individuals and as a community to minimize the impact of the virus and hope for the arrival of an effective vaccine as soon as possible.
In addition to the pandemic, our country is facing social unrest in cities across the nation. The tragic killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the more recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha have brought outrage to citizens across the United States and has fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. Protestors continue to advocate and demand change to systemic racism in this nation and are demanding social justice, equity, fair treatment and freedom for everyone. Along with high profile leaders from all walks of life, professional athletes have stepped forward in protest to support the movement and assist in bringing light to the issues and the need for change. USM Athletics is making a commitment to listen, learn, provide a voice and better support our students of color and those from diverse backgrounds. We will be working directly with recent University hires Idella Glenn (Associate Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact) and Will Johnson (Director of Intercultural Student Engagement) and other community leaders, alumni, staff and students to make progress on the goal of equity and justice. More details will follow soon as we continue to develop our plan for this year. One thing that is certain, we are living in a very volatile time in our history with the Covid-19 pandemic, social unrest and what is sure to be an emotionally charged and highly contested presidential election process. We need to look out for one another, care for and support each other and stay together.
It's important that we all clearly understand that our actions both on and off campus will impact our ability to keep the doors to USM open and allow us to interact academically and participate in athletics. I strongly encourage and implore you to follow all guidelines and policies related to Covid-19 mitigation. This virus has clearly shown how quickly it can spread to others. Please minimize unnecessary contact with others and refrain from gatherings and activities that put others at risk. Violators of safety policies will be dealt with quickly and severely. This is a time where individual sacrifices must be made for the greater good of the entire community. Please do your part to keep everyone safe.
The University has worked exceptionally hard during this pandemic to support students, faculty and staff. Countless members of the University have engaged in the planning process to ensure a safe return to campus and develop policies and procedures to keep the community safe. At the same time, the University continues to look forward to improve. Effective leadership always moves forward even in difficult times. It's easy to grow and prosper during times of prosperity; it's more challenging and more rewarding during times of crisis or lean years.
Progress continues on the construction of what will certainly be transformative buildings on the Portland Campus. Very soon, construction will begin on a fantastic new student center, career center and residence hall. These will be game changers for USM. Renderings of these facilities are truly beautiful and will greatly benefit future students and our alumni. USM's Career Hub is engaged in making connections with employers both in greater Portland and across the state to provide internships and experiences that will directly lead to employment opportunities for our students. USM is well positioned to play a major role in workforce development in the state of Maine. The new residence hall will serve upper-class students , graduate and law students and will provide relief on the Gorham Campus for first and second-year student needs. Future plans on the Portland Campus call for the renovation of the fitness center, construction of a performing arts center and a combined graduate and law facility.
Athletics is working to see a number of projects through on the Gorham Campus. During the summer of 2021, it's our goal to renovate the fitness center in the Costello Sports Complex and replace all of the equipment with state-of-the-art cardio and weight training apparatus. Our goal is to begin in mid-May and be ready for the start of the academic year in late August. In addition, we will undertake a renovation and expansion of the athletic healthcare facility. That project will provide additional space, a better work flow and more appropriate office and exam space for our medical team. In completing these renovation projects, we will also honor the contributions and outstanding careers of Joey Bouchard and David "Dusty" Drew by naming those two facilities in their honor.
Later this fall, the University will kick off a significant capital campaign. Athletics is included in that campaign and we are hopeful to raise enough financial support to complete projects on our short list. Those projects include: the renovation of the playing surface on Flaherty Field or the installation of synthetic turf on both Flaherty Field and the Softball Stadium, construction of the grandstand facilities including press box, public facilities, concession, store and athletic training space along with other amenities at Hannaford Field and a service building between Flaherty Field and the Softball Stadium with similar services. Much has been done but there is more to do. I hope you will continue to follow us and support the program if at all possible. Best wishes moving forward this year, stay safe.