Report from the Maine Government Summer Internship Program

The Maine Government Summer Internship Program placed 39 students in full-time internship positions with state, local, and regional agencies in Maine this past summer.  Student projects included communications, GIS, bridge engineering, transportation planning, city administration, education research and more. The report on this year’s program is now available.

Supervisors praised the work of their interns who completed projects that in some cases may have taken years for the staff to accomplish. Interns’ work included producing publications, researching tourism development, developing options for land use and transportation, mapping for emergency management agencies, producing videos, and leading client mediations. As one supervisor noted, “This is a great way to give a student a chance to find out how government works.”

2016 was a very successful  year, with students saying, “I learned so much in such a short period of time and was able to get some valuable experience in the field I want to go into,” and “I’ve learned more about actual engineering this summer than I have in my entire college career.”

The report on the internship program is available on our website and will be distributed to all members of the Maine Legislature.

See the 2016 Internship Report

For more information on the Maine Government Summer Internship Program please see the website.

Maine Government Summer Internship Program

U.S. Senator Angus King Speaks on Climate Change

U.S. Senator Angus King spoke to the UMaine community on the topic of “Maine and Climate Change: The View from Greenland.” Senator King addressed interested students, faculty, and members of the public on Thursday, November 10, for the Senator Margaret Chase Smith Lectureship on Public Affairs for 2016. He explained the causes and impacts of climate change over time, talked about seeing Greenland’s melting glaciers firsthand, and encouraged the audience to learn more about the science of climate change. After his talk Senator King responded to questions solicited from the UMaine student body, moderated by Allyson Eslin, a past Margaret Chase Smith public affairs scholar.

Click on the arrows in the photo above for more photos of Sen. King’s lecture.
video of Senator King’s talk is available at

Each year UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center brings to campus a person of national status to deliver a lecture in the field of civic and public life. The Senator Margaret Chase Smith Lectureship on Public Affairs was endowed in 1989 by the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation in honor of Senator Smith’s contributions to Maine and to the nation.


Sen. Dawn Hill is Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow Dec. 1st

Maine State Senator Dawn Hill will visit UMaine on Thursday, December 1, as the next Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow. Hill is the state senator representing Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, York, and South Berwick and part of Berwick. She will meet with students, faculty, and researchers on campus throughout the day. A public reception will be held at the University Club in Fogler Library at 4:00PM. Her visit is sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the UMaine College of Engineering.

More information is available on the Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows Program.

Sorg’s Research on Drug Overdose Deaths in Maine in BDN

Drug overdose deaths in Maine continue to surge,  fueled largely by an increase in deaths due to fentanyl, as reported by the Office of the Maine Attorney General, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Dr. Marcella Sorg of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.

Attorney General Janet T. Mills today released statistics on drug overdose deaths through the first nine months of 2016. With 286 deaths through the end of September, overdose deaths have already exceeded the total number for all of 2015 when there were 272 drug overdose deaths in Maine.  This dramatic increase is mainly due to illicitly manufactured (non-pharmaceutical) fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, although the number of deaths due to other drugs is also increasing. Many are due to combinations of drugs.

Dr. Marcella Sorg, research professor at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, is a medical and forensic anthropologist who analyzes overdose deaths in Maine for the state’s attorney general.

The Bangor Daily News reported on the issue in today’s article, ‘One person a day is dying’ in Maine, drug overdose numbers surpass 2015.

The Portland Press Herald also reports on the issue: Drug overdose deaths in Maine now averaging 1 a day.

Research Professor Trostel Examines Fiscal Impact of Too Little Saving for Retirement

Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and School of Economics Professor Phil Trostel has received funding from AARP for new research on “The Fiscal Implications of Inadequate Saving for Retirement”.

Most workers do not save enough for retirement.  According to AARP Maine, one-third of Mainers 65+ rely entirely on Social Security, an average annual income of $14,000, and the typical working household in Maine has only $3,000 saved for retirement.

Saving even the smallest amount today will improve financial security in retirement.

The lack of personal saving for retirement means many of the costs of retirement for are covered through government spending, by transfer payments such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, various types of cash assistance, energy assistance, housing subsidies, and Supplemental Security Income.

A new study by Professor Phil Trostel will look at the fiscal costs (costs to federal/state/local governments) of “new retirees” (people turning 65 in coming years) by calculating transfer payments (cash and in-kind) to this population. Trostel’s research will then estimate the difference between fiscal costs and retirement income. After determining this current fiscal cost, Trostel will examine how future retirees differ from current retirees in their retirement income, and then estimate the projected cost to government from new retirees.

The final step in the study will be to estimate the fiscal savings to the federal and state government if new retirees had saved more for retirement. Results emphasized in the report will be for Maine and the United States, and projections will be for the 15 years from 2018 through 2032.

Senator Angus King Lecture Nov. 10 3:30 p.m.

Climate change and its impact on Maine will be the focus of an address by U.S. Sen. Angus King when he gives the Senator Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Lecture at the University of Maine on November 10.

King’s address, “Maine and Climate Change: The View from Greenland” begins at 3:30 p.m., in the Collins Center for the Arts. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 581.1648. A reception will be held immediately following the lecture in the Hudson Museum at the Collins Center.

Since 2013, King has served as Maine’s first independent U.S. senator. He sits on five committees — Rules and Administration, Intelligence, Armed Services, Budget, and Energy and Natural Resources. King is a former two-term Maine governor. For more information on Senator King, please see his biography.

The Senator Margaret Chase Smith Lectureship on Public Affairs was endowed in 1989 by the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation in honor of Sen. Smith’s contributions to Maine and to the nation. UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center brings to campus a person of national status to deliver a lecture in the field of civic and public life. The lectureship is supported in part by the University of Maine Foundation, The Division of Student Life, the Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service and a grant from the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Fund.

Policy Center Director Rubin Continues as Environment and Energy Section Chair of National Academies’ Transportation Research Board

Professor Jonathan Rubin, Policy Center Director, was re-appointed for a second 3 year term as Chair of the Environment and Energy Section, ADC00, of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The Environment and Energy Section is part of the Planning and Environment Group. It consists of eight committees that propose research, share research findings, sponsor special activities, and provide a forum for transportation professionals to discuss today’s and tomorrow’s environment and energy-related transportation issues. The chairs of each of these committees are members of the Environment and Energy Section Executive Board, who along with the section chair, provide general oversight of the activities within the Section. The committees are Resource Conservation and Recovery, Transportation Energy, Ecology and Transportation, Transportation and Air Quality, Alternative Transportation Fuels and Technologies, Environmental Analysis in Transportation, Historic and Archeological Preservation in Transportation, and Transportation-Related Noise and Vibration.

The Transportation Research Board is one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which provides independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. Members of the National Academies’ technical committees serve as individuals, not as representatives of the organizations by which they are employed or of which they may be members.

Research Professor Marcella Sorg Examines Fentanyl Overdose Deaths in New Hampshire

Research Professor Marcella Sorg will be leading an in-depth epidemiological “hot-spot” analysis of fentanyl-related deaths in New Hampshire on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the University of Maryland’s National Drug Early Warning System. The hot-spot study is currently featured on the National Drug Early Warning System’s website:

Dr. Sorg and research associate Jamie Wren recently contributed to a preliminary, Phase 1 study of fentanyl deaths in New Hampshire. The report from the Phase 1 study indicates that Fentanyl-related deaths nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015 (145 to 283) and accounted for nearly two thirds of all New Hampshire drug deaths.

The Phase 1 New Hampshire hotspot report is available from  the NDEWS website at

Policy Center’s Trostel presents on higher education’s return on investment to society

Policy Center and Economics Professor Philip Trostel is the author of the recent Lumina Foundation report “It’s Not Just the Money: The Benefits of College Education to Individuals and to Society.”

Trostel has several upcoming presentations based on this research. At the SUNY Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference on October 27, 2016 in New York City, Trostel will be a panelist in a session called “The Debt Dialogue Must be Turned on its Head” examining the issue of debt in higher education and the return on educational investment to society.

Trostel is presenting the keynote speech at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities on November 13 in Austin, Texas. The meeting is an event for public university leaders to meet and exchange ideas with colleagues from across the country, and to learn about the latest challenges and opportunities facing public universities. He will also be presenting on November 16 and 17 to the University of Arizona Board of Regents and to the University of Arizona System.

UM Machias Maine Policy Scholar in the News

This year’s Maine Policy Scholar from the University of Maine at Machias is Alyssa De Silva, who is researching the impact of the decline of the bee population on Washington County agricultural industries, such as blueberries and cranberries. UMM Professor Megan Duff is overseeing De Silva’s project.

The Maine Policy Scholars Program engages students in the public policy process. Scholarships are awarded annually to one student from each of the seven University of Maine System campuses to work with a faculty advisor and community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue facing Maine. The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, interviews, or all three. Each produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policy maker that outlines the problem, data available, and recommended policy solutions.

The program is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.

See the article which appeared in the Bangor Daily News today: