The University of Maine: Playing All Positions in the Policy Game

(Two-Minute Read)

Policy in Brief:

In this Margaret Chase Smith Essay, UM and UMM president, Joan Ferrini-Mundy addresses how the mission of the two schools align with the 2020-2029 Maine Economic Development Strategy.

Fascinating Features:

The 2020-2029 Maine Economic Development Strategy, released on behalf of Governor Janet Mills by the Maine Department of Economics and Community Development in November 2019, outlines the significant growth opportunities for the state of Maine.

  • It challenges people and organizations to play their roles to ensure Maine’s economic future.
  • It outlines central strategies which focus on:
    • Growing local talent;
    • Attracting new talent;
    • Promoting innovation.

Ferrini-Mundy notes that these foci could be the mottos and slogans for UM and UMM as they describe what the schools already do well and continue to improve. She sees the report as a challenge the University can answer through:

  • Fostering learner success;
  • Discovering and innovating;
  • Growing and advancing partnerships.

The success and implementation of the Maine Economic Development Strategy should be monitored and should allow for midcourse and ongoing correction. Ideally, there also should be methods for tracking the effects of the policy. Ferrini-Mundy argues that experts at UM have been and can continue to be deeply engaged in all aspects of this process.

University of Maine representatives and alums were and continue to be involved at every step of the Maine Economic Development Strategy.

  • Representatives from UM shaped the policy definitions and formulation that guide the report.
  • They developed the research base that informed the report.
  • UM economist Andrew Crawley and alumna Angela Hallowell of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services analyzed the economic data to aid in developing the report.
  • They identified where Maine has strengths and potential for growth including:
    • marine food systems;
    • forest products;
    • technical services;
    • manufacturing.
  • UM faculty and staff provided important guidance and input for the plan.
  • As the plan is implemented, UM and UMM continue to contribute through growing local talent, attracting out-of-state talent, and continuing to innovate through thier research and development centers.

This partnership is but one example of research conducted by UM faculty, students, and staff that inform state public policymaking. In fact, UM and UMM researchers shape policy decisions in fields ranging from aquaculture, marine fisheries, climate change, renewable energy, and transportation infrastructure.


Getting from good public policy documents to impactful implementation is the hardest part of public policy. Ferrini-Mundy is confident that the University of Maine will play a part in the successful implementation of the state’s economic plan. In fact, she argues that UM and UMM are vital to its success.

Dig Deeper:

Ferrini-Mundy, Joan. “The University of Maine: Playing All Positions in the Policy Game.” Maine Policy Review 29.1 (2020): 6-7.

From MPR’s Archive:

Hecker, Jeffrey E., and Marilyn R. Gugliucci. “A Call to Action: Maine’s Colleges and Universities Respond to an Aging Population.” Maine Policy Review 24.2 (2015): 36-41.

Reilly, Catherine. “Loan Forgiveness and Repayment: Can They Increase Education Attainment in Maine?.” Maine Policy Review 14.1 (2005): 64-69.

Trostel, Philip A. “Economic Prosperity in Maine: Held Back by the Lack of Higher Education.” Maine Policy Review 11.2 (2002): 30-43.

Related Resources:

Ferrini-Mundy, Joan and Jason Charland. 2019. The University of Maine System Research and Development Plan FY20-FY24. Orono: University of Maine.

Maine DECD (Department of Economic and Community Development). 2019. Maine Economic Development Strategy 2020-2029: A Focus on Talent and Innovation. Augusta: Maine DECD.

University of Maine’s strategic vision and values framework.