A composite image of students and faculty in various locations

UNE Wrapped: The Stories That Defined The Year

The Office of Communications Presents: The Year in News, 2022

We at the University of New England don’t exactly know “normal.” Our students are exceptional learners and agents of change in their communities. Our faculty are world-class leaders in their fields. Our professional staff are the driving force that keeps our University a step ahead of its peers.

But after a grueling two-plus years ensnared in a global pandemic, 2022, in many ways, felt about as “normal” as it possibly could.

A men's hockey player smiles while holding a teddy bear at the 2022 Teddy Bear Toss at the Harold Alfond Forum

Students came to campus (in record numbers); gathered with their friends; held dances, displays, and symposiums; excelled both on the field and on the ice; and mastered the deluge of assignments, exams, and extracurricular commitments. Faculty took their learning from the classrooms to the fields, forests, and waters of UNE’s reaches; led groundbreaking research initiatives; guided their students to success; and represented the University both in Maine and as far away as France, Kenya, Morocco, Italy, Ireland, and the far North.

UNE also broke ground on a new building — its first since 2017 — and one that will completely transform the landscape of health education in the state of Maine.

These are the stories we in the Office of Communications see and hear as we routinely meet with students, faculty, professional staff, and University administration. Once the buzz of goings on within the campus community catches our ears, we’ll work to tell the stories in the best way we know how — through print, photo, video, or digital platforms — to showcase the intrepid endeavors undertaken across our campuses every single day.

And 2022 was one for the books.

Photo of woman (Virginia May) posing in chestnut orchard

The stories we uncovered this year showcased a University community committed to bettering its world through groundbreaking research in the biomedical and marine sciences; freedom of expression and diversity of thought; innovation in the health sciences, business, and the humanities; policy, advocacy, and social change; and adoption of global perspectives.

As we move onward to another year, we wanted to showcase some of our favorite and most impactful stories from 2022. The Office of Communications is proud to present UNE Wrapped: The Stories That Defined The Year.

Browse the categories and accompanying stories below.

Read More: Take a Look Back at the Top Stories of 2021

A student uses a pipette in a chemistry lab
Researcher Kerry Tucker poses in his lab with a microscope
A student works in the COBRE lab
Professor Ian Meng speaks at a podium
A student presents her research to a crowd

Biomedical research takes center stage

UNE researchers work to better the health of their communities and their planet. These are researchers like Diana Goode, who is trying to find ways to mitigate peripheral neuropathy for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Or Ben Harrison, whose line of work is exploring ways to treat chronic pain through gene therapy rather than addictive opioids. UNE also received several high-profile grants this year, including $6.6 million to researcher Ian Meng to study ocular pain and $5 million to support the final phase of establishment of the University’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for the Study of Pain and Sensory Function. Who could also forget that Associate Provost Karen Houseknecht was named a Fulbright Senior Scholar? As such, she will spend part of this coming academic year in Spain conducting pharmacology research. And UNE continued to further its research partnerships, having completed novel work with MaineHealth — the state’s largest hospital organization — and forming a partnership with BioConnects New England to create a robust biomanufacturing industry cluster in the region.

Watch: Can Protein Polymers Help Injured Spines?

University of New England Associate Professor of Chemistry Eva Rose Balog, Ph.D., and Medical Biology student Galen Arnold ’22 discuss their work in Balog’s protein biochemistry and biomaterials research lab.

UNE administration poses with Art Girard in front of the newly dedicated Arthur P. Girard Innovation Hall
Marine Science students pose for a selfie on a UNE boat
A student empties a pail of rubbish from a beach clean up at the new Clean Seas UNE kiosk
Students and faculty deploy a real-time shark detection buoy in Saco Bay
Marine Sciences students test water quality

Marine Sciences students, faculty take research to new depths

The University of New England takes great pride in offering students real-word, experiential learning opportunities. Students in our Marine Sciences programs are a shining example of that, from planning and executing the deployment of Maine’s first real-time shark detection buoy to working with the state’s growing seaweed industry to make sure the harvesters’ products are safe to consume. The students are taking advantage of their coastal location by working on a comprehensive analysis of all the species inhabiting the waters off the Biddeford Campus, while keeping an eye on the future by readying UNE’s own Ram Island for future research projects. All those experiences can be invaluable when it comes to landing fulfilling jobs after graduation. Recent grads — including an attorney in marine affairs, a seaweed production manager, and a grant writer and fundraiser at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute — returned to campus to share their stories of how their UNE degrees helped them land careers in the field of marine sciences.

The ocean is like another world. Even though it’s on our planet, there is just so much we still don’t know." — Abigail Hayne (M.S. Marine Sciences, ’23)

UNE leadership dig into the earth at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Harold and Bibby Center for Health Sciences on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022
A rendering of new the COM facility
A rendering of a lecture hall in the new COM facility
UNE President James Herbert poses with a shovel
COM students pose with shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony

Groundbreaking signals start of Portland Campus transformation

Nov. 29, 2022 will forever mark a turning point in UNE’s goal to make its Portland Campus the first-ever totally integrated, interprofessional health sciences campus in New England, as the University formally broke ground on the new Harold and Bibby Alfond Center for Health Sciences. The project will support the relocation of UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine to Portland and the establishment of the Institute for Interprofessional Education and Practice while freeing up space for high-growth, market-aligned undergraduate programs on the Biddeford Campus. UNE President James Herbert remarked that the project will be “transformative for UNE and transformative for the study and practice of medicine in Maine.” Further, in the 2022 edition of the UNE Magazine, we’ve offered a glimpse at the interior of the new facility, set to open in the summer of 2024.

Watch: Highlights from the Groundbreaking Ceremony

On Nov. 29, 2022, UNE held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Harold and Bibby Alfond Center for Health Sciences on its Portland Campus. The project will facilitate the relocation of the University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine from Biddeford, creating an integrated health sciences campus that is unique in all of New England.

A student tends to UNE's rain gardens
UNE Provost Gwen Mahon
Students sit at Commencement
Students work on projects in UNE's P.D. Merrill Makerspace
Students in the Class of 2026 pose in the shape of the year 2026

Leading in academics, innovation, and open inquiry

In addition to beginning the fall semester by welcoming its largest-ever class, UNE once again stood out as a leader in higher education, having been named to The Princeton Review's annual guide to “The 388 Best Colleges” for the eighth-straight year as well as The Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Colleges” for the sixth. Both guides noted UNE’s excellence in supporting sustainable initiatives and providing a collaborative environment for students and faculty to engage in robust discourse. UNE also demonstrated its commitment to its mission, “Innovation for a Healthier Planet,” in hosting its first-ever Innovation Celebration — a string of events dedicated to new and noble efforts to better the planet through the health sciences, business, and design thinking. UNE also hosted its first University-wide Commencement since 2019, welcoming prominent social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who advocated for universities as places of free expression and open inquiry. UNE President James Herbert, in the publications University Business and Inside Higher Ed, also discussed UNE's commitment to being a marketplace of ideas and the need to challenge students’ beliefs.

Engaging in robust, sometimes controversial, discourse is vital to ensuring a diverse and inclusive classroom environment." — UNE President James D. Herbert

Students march through the campus tunnel at the 2nd annual Women's March
Students pose at the Out of the Darkness March
Students pose with harm reduction kits
Kiara Frischkorn poses in front of the Maine State House
UNE students and President Herbert pose at Pride

Students inspire their communities, advocate for change

UNE students are motivated to make a difference in the world and to never stop learning — from Brookie Award winner Kiara Frischkorn, who was honored for her environmental leadership; to social work alum Jordan Simpson, who convinced Maine lawmakers to pass a new law regarding prosthetic devices by sharing her own personal story; to nursing student Lila Gaudrault, who was the first woman to cross the finish line at the 2022 Maine Marathon. Then there is Kaylee Blake — she was set to graduate two years ago when Guillain-Barre Syndrome left her paralyzed and forced her to leave school. Undaunted, the educational studies major recovered and came back to UNE this year to finish her studies, take on two internships, and earn her degree. Students also inspired us by coming together in groups to make a difference in their community by raising money for the fight against polio, increasing suicide awareness, and standing up for women’s reproductive rights. And we cannot forget the incredible and inspiring march to UNE’s first ever frozen four by the men’s hockey team.

Watch: Kaylee Blake ’22, an Education Student Reaching Her Goals

Meet Kaylee, a recent education studies graduate from UNE not letting anything get in the way of her goal to become a school teacher. Kaylee has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. With the support of her family and professors at UNE, she's made it her mission to prove that teaching can be possible for individuals of all abilities.

Ana Maria Castellanos makes tortillas with Kekchi Mayan women
Celia Larson stands against the jungle at a resort in Belize
Students conduct research on a vessel in Iceland
Students pose in the Kenyan jungle
Students sit on a ledge while hiking on a travel trip to Iceland

UNE represented across the globe

While many UNE students feel engrained in their local community, their studies can take them around the world for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For six years now, environmental studies professor Richard Peterson has been taking students to Africa for new perspectives on conservation and culture. Peterson was born and grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, he shares the wonders of his home continent with his students. For the first time ever, the Department of Physical Therapy sent students to the Caribbean to conduct their field work placements. In Belize, two students provided volunteer care for patients in and outside of the local clinic, educated the center’s employees about best practices in physical therapy, and made personal and professional connections with health professions students from across the entire globe. UNE aims to keep that global outreach going strong by partnering with schools in Maine and beyond to bring more international students to its campuses.

My global experience pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to hone my skills in communication and empathy in a way I didn’t know was possible." — Celia Larson (D.P.T., ’23)

We want to hear from you

UNE News is produced and curated by the Office of Communications and Marketing, which provides strategic and creative leadership and support for the University of New England across all media and communications platforms. Our mission is to raise awareness for UNE, enhance the University’s reputation, facilitate operations, and foster community in alignment with institutional goals. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear from you — contact the Office of Communications.