It was another year like no other. But even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued its fury, the University of New England stayed the course, weathering the tempest and celebrating a myriad of successes.
The Office of Communications at UNE routinely meets with students, faculty, professional staff, and University administration to tell their stories, and the stories we uncovered in 2021 showcased a University community committed to bettering their world through groundbreaking research; community service; policy, advocacy, and business; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As we move onward to another year, we wanted to showcase some of our favorite — and most impactful — stories from 2021. The Office of Communications is proud to present Looking Back: The Year in News 2021.
Leaders in Health Care
In 2021, we at UNE continued to demonstrate our commitment to the health of Mainers and to educating the next generation of health professionals. Nursing students learned by using the latest state-of-the-art virtual reality technology. They, along with other health professions students. also received valuable hands-on learning experiences. When a remote, virus-stricken nursing home faced a dire staffing shortage, students stepped in and provided the care. Dental students teamed with Maine Behavioral Healthcare to provide care to those with developmental disabilities, while other dental students began providing weekly cleanings and consultations at no cost to older residents through a partnership with a local housing authority. Moreover, the University continues to move forward with an eye to the future as it becomes a regional hub for telehealth education.
Research to Better our World
From inside laboratories to out on the open seas, students and faculty participated in research aimed at solving real-world problems — an integral part of UNE’s mission. At the School of Pharmacy, the fight against cancer marched on as Associate Professor Srinidi Mohan, Ph.D., worked to perfect his breakthrough methods and diagnostics for cancer detection and treatment monitoring. Off the coast of UNE’s Biddeford Campus, researchers studied how the industry handles and processes edible seaweed before it gets to the consumer. And, soon, students will be involved in piloting an innovative nutrition education program for seniors in low-income housing with the support of a three-year $900,000 grant.
UNE’s commitment to environmental stewardship brought students and faculty out of the classroom and into nature across the country and around the globe this year. Noah Perlut, Ph.D., professor of environmental studies, took his students to New York and Vermont to continue work on his project aimed at tracking and protecting songbirds. UNE became the only institution in Maine to be granted non-governmental observer status to attend state-level talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Scotland. And, closer to home, Tom Klak, Ph.D., professor of environmental studies, and his students continued their work to restore the iconic American chestnut tree. Klak says that, if the experiment works, it would be “the biggest ecological turnaround in North American history.”
The President Expert
At press conferences, University forums, and even the Capitol, President Herbert is routinely called upon to offer his thought leadership on a variety of topics. Twice named a ‘digital leader’ for his frequent and masterful use of social media, Herbert regularly contributes letters to local news media and is often the lead source for the them when discussing issues in higher education, such as workforce challenges and immigration reform. He has also forged relationships with some of the nation’s most prominent politicians, a testament to his influence in the higher education sphere. President Herbert’s expertise on a vast array of issues was the subject of many of our top stories of 2021.
Alumni Making a Difference
They are doctors, nurses, and mental health specialists; they are leading the fight against climate change; and they are working to make the world a more equitable place for all. They are the alumni of UNE, many of whom found tremendous success in 2021. Lauren Rogers, B.S. ’09, for example, was a key member of the team that developed the BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test, a vital instrument in diagnosing COVID-19 and combating the pandemic. Brian Tomney, B.S. ’01, was nominated in October to a key post in the Biden Administration. And, just recently, Deqa Dhalac, M.S.W. ’17, became the first Somali-American mayor in the United States when she was selected to lead the City of South Portland.
Read more UNE news
The stories displayed here are only a fraction of the hundreds produced each year by the Office of Communications.