Richard J. Spath:
A call to greatness
In his first meeting with the faculty and staff of the University of Maine
at Fort Kent in the fall of 1971, Dr. Spath, the University's second president,
challenged his audience to aspire to "greatness." Now was not the
time to rest on laurels achieved, but it was the proper time to seek other and
higher goals. This speech set the tone of his administration.
President Spath, a classicist by training (John Carroll, MA; St. Louis University,
Phd), would work closely with Dean John Ryan and then Dean George T. Prigmore
(1973) in providing administrative leadership for the 1970's. Barbara K. Spath
also joined the staff in 1971 as Director of Testing and Counseling. The new
president was visible at major school functions, such as plays ("The Fantastiks"
and "The Private Ear"), the invitational basketball tournament, performances
of the brass choir and chorus, the Newman Christmas party, the dance marathon
and the Winter Carnival. Although many had been contacted individually throughout
the year the alumni met President Spath for the first time as a group in May,
1972, and Dr. Spath conferred his first degrees the following week. Rev. Roger
Chabot, Chaplain, Newman Apostolate gave the invocation. Mr. Vaughn Currier
brought the greetings of the Board of Trustees, and the graduation address was
delivered by the Hon. Peter N. Kyros, U.S. Representative, First District Maine.
The benediction was offered by Rev. Donald Osborn, Pastor Christ Church. There
were fifty-six graduates in the class of 1972, four of whom, Paul William Kerwock,
Leola Lagasse, Robert A. Paul, and George E. Roy, Jr. graduated maximum cum
laude, indicating an increased emphasis on academics as one means of achieving
the greatness the President had referred to the previous fall.
A new sign marked Alumni Memorial Field in the fall of 1972-1973. Women's field
hockey, women's basketball and men's cross country were added as varsity sports,
and a ski club was formed. Kappa Rho, a girls' sorority was organized. "Enemy
of the people" and "Mary Mary" were the two major dramatic productions.
Allen Ouellette, an alumnus, took on duties as a part-time recruiter and efforts
were made to advertise U.M.F.K.'s programs on a more systematic basis.
At commencement in 1973 distinguished service awards went to Mary Picard and
Dean Emeritus Floyd Powell. Dr. Winthrop C. Libby, President of the University
of Maine at Orono, was the graduation speaker. Philip R. Cyr, Benita M. Harvey,
Beverly A. Madore, and Anne Marie Plourde graduated magna cum laude. Sixty-eight
received bachelor of science degrees, and the first five associate of arts degrees
were conferred. Another twelve had earned their degrees between May of 1972
and the formal 1973 ceremonies.
A Projected Growth Study was conducted in 1972-1973, and it focused on four central issues: 1. What will the institution do? 2. For whom will the institution do it? 3. How. will the institution do it? 4. What will the institution need to do it? The resulting Projected Growth Study Preliminary Report was accepted by the University Assembly as a working paper for three kinds of planning: 1. A long range plan looking ten years into the future. 2. A shorter range plan, considering the next three to five years. 3. A plan looking at the next year and matters that had to be dealt with first. President Spath created a Task Force for New Directions in November, 1973, and it was this committee that did the work which changed the University of Maine at Fort Kent from a single purpose to a multi-purpose institution. The first fruits of this effort took the form of a geography minor approved as an option within the bachelor of science degree, and in the bachelor of arts degree when it became operative at the start of the first semester, 1974-1975.
Allen Ouellette was designated as the official University Recruiter for the
1973-1974 school year. Susan Wishkoshki arrived as the new Head Resident. Dr.
Vishnu Jtunani brought his computer expertise to the math department. Wendy
Kindred, author of children's books, became the new art instructor, replacing
Miss Lillian R. Michaud. Dr. James Mehorter, given a contract to cover the psychology
courses on a full time basis, unfortunately died shortly after joining the U.M.F.K.
faculty. Dr. William D. Covell was hired to cover the sociology courses and
implement an Introduction to Human Services program in cooperation with the
Portland-Gorham campus, one of many transfer programs arranged while Dr. Prigmore
was Dean of Academic Affairs. Dr. Ray Ownbey, a graduate of the University of
Utah, augmented the English department. Mrs. Joan Sylvain was hired as a lecturer
in education. At that time sixty-three per cent of the faculty held terminal
degrees. The new faculty were needed as the 1973-1974 day enrollment was at
an all-time high of 475. Some of the increase represented U.M.F.K. becoming
a member of the National Student Exchange in 1971, and the approval of the Canadian-American
Studies minor the following year. Increased enrollment and an enlarged staff
led to increasing demands on the library, the holdings of which reached 26,676
volumes as of July l, 1973.
New trustee Robert Jalbert brought the greetings of the University of Maine
Board of Trustees to the graduating class of 1974. The address to the graduates
was given by Hon. Elmer H. Violette, Superior Court Justice. Magna cum laude
honors went to Francis N. Boynton, Karen A. Daigle, Louise M. Lapointe, and
Judy A. Villette. Fifty-five received bachelor of science degrees on the day
of graduation. Another five had qualified for their degrees between the last
graduation and the second semester. Eight associate of arts degrees had been
awarded between formal graduations, and another twelve qualified for the May,
1974 commencement exercises.
A new position, Director of External Programs and Services, was filled by Raymond
Dumais in the fall of 1974. Charles Hechter replaced Dr. Covell in sociology.
Dr. Walter Lichtenstein, professor of French, brought his boundless energy to
Fort Kent at the same time. Dr. Judith Pusey became the second full time member
of the education department, and Michael T. Ruggere joined the faculty as instructor
in theater and English. These faculty additions were necessitated by still more
changes in the curriculum. The bachelor of arts, with majors in biology, English,
French and history, and minors in art, art music, English, French, music, biology,
mathematics, Canadian-American studies, geography and history went into effect
that first semester. The bachelor of science in environmental studies program,
a tri-campus consortium involving U.M.M., U.M.P.I. and U.M.F.K., went into effect
at the same time, and it soon proved to be the most popular of the recent curriculum
changes. The bachelor of university studies, which allowed the student to pursue
his own particular interests, would go into effect January 1, 1975. Other options
and aids open to the students were cooperative education, advanced placement,
independent study, CLEP, a basic skills center and educational assistance courses.
The Hon. John L. Martin, Speaker of the House, Maine State Legislature, addressed
the graduating seniors in 1975. Three of the first seven graduates to receive
bachelor of arts degrees graduated cum laude, Charles A. Nadeau, Daria Leigh
Woodruff and David Wylie. Recipients of bachelor of science degrees Linda A.
Lavoie, Timothy McNamee, Jeannine Rita Lizotte Michaud, Lester J. Michaud, David
Richard Raymond, Sharon Lou Shearer and Rena Mae Bouchard Sirois all graduated
magna cum laude, and Robert John Pinette and Donald Maurice Raymond graduated
summa cum laude. Jeanne Chamberland was the first to graduate with a bachelor
of university studies.
Starting in the fall of 1975 a number of new faculty members and other personnel
have arrived on campus. Professor Roger Cooke has intrigued his sociology classes
with his British accent. Professor T. Franklin Grady is still testing his repertoire
of jokes on psychology students and towns people alike. Professor Steve Selva
brought his quiet but scholarly approach to the math-science department, as
did Dr. Eberhard Thiele, new Director of the Environmental Science Program.
Professor Joan Wildman's brief stay at U.M.F.K. as instructor in music could
not be matched for its enthusiasm. Professor James Gibson, her successor, has
brought an equal professional competence in his chosen field of music. Charles
Closser, director of the theater arts program, has reached out into the community
to cast his plays and offer voice training. In an attempt to upgrade women's
athletics, Mrs. Mary Allison was hired to develop varsity teams in field hockey,
volleyball and basketball. Her replacement this fall is Miss Leueen Pelletier,
Don Raymond, an honors graduate of U.M.F.K., has replaced Mr. Ed Chambers as
registrar. Mr. William Morrison, an experienced professional, is presently director
of admissions. Mr. Timothy Brooks has proven to be an energetic Dean of Students.
Don Honeman will be leaving his position in the boy's dorm to become full-time
financial aid officer. Miss Joyce Harvey, another alumnus, has proven to be
a very capable director of the Franco-American gerontology program and the new
Program I. Dr. Roland Burns, who replaced Ray Dumais as Director of External
Programs and Services, is now sitting in the chair of the Dean of Academic Affairs.
Because of the resignation of Dr. Richard Kressel, the first semester retirement
of Coach Lowell Osgood, and the end of the academic year retirement of "Joe"
Hallee, search committees have been instituted to uncover the best possible
candidates for history, French and athletic-recreation positions. It is hoped
that these positions will be filled by the fall of 1978.
Patrick E. McCarthy, the University of Maine's second Chancellor, was commencement
speaker in 1976. Raymond Joseph Bouchard and Robin G. Osgood graduated summa
cum laude, and Edwin A. Boynton, Cliff Chasse, George A. I'talien, Cathy Prey,
Philip Roy and Panela Hope Winsby graduated magna cum laude. The following year
Senator Edmund S. Muskie returned to address the class of 1977. Those graduating
magna cum laude were Mae M. Madore, Jacinte Geoffrey, Lyneta K. Heilsberg and
Debra Lou Daigle Kavenaugh. The 1978 graduates will go into the record books
of the future.
In this our Centennial year, launched so auspiciously with the Mass of Thanksgiving
conducted by Archbishop Jadot, it is only appropriate that we reflect on the
vision of the people like Vetal Cyr, Mary G. Nowland, Richard F. Crocker, Joseph
M. Fox and Richard J. Spath which has led to the development of what stands
today as the University of Maine at Fort Kent and all that it symbolizes to
all who have, or will, enter its doors and leave the richer for the experience.
Or, as President Spath has more aptly expressed it, "If the past is but
prologue to the future then UMFK looks forward to its Second Century with a
treasured confidence rooted in the intellectual endowment of all those who served
it so nobly in its first 100 years."