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January 6, 2010


The University of Maine at Fort Kent campus will hear from noted experiential learning scholar, Dr. Deborah Sugerman, during its semi-annual campus development day this Friday, January 8 in the Nadeau Hall Teleconference Room.

The theme of the development day is Experiential Learning: The Way Forward. Dr. Sugerman, a consultant with Experiential Concepts, will give the keynote address, How will UMFK Fully Integrate and Operationalize Experiential Learning?
Prior to Dr. Sugerman’s address, UMFK President, Dr. Richard W. Cost will deliver a “State of the University” update to the campus community.
Dr. Sugerman’s address is a part of the implementation of UMFK’s Strategic Plan for 2009-2014. That plan introduces “experiential education” as a particular style of education that is appropriate to the campus.  
Dr. Sugerman is a nationally-recognized expert in this field and her presence is intended to support campus-wide efforts to build the concept of experiential learning more broadly across the curriculum and throughout the campus.
A native of Colorado, Dr. Sugerman received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Colorado and a Master of Arts in Recreation from the University of Northern Colorado.  After graduate school, she moved to Southern Illinois where she worked at Touch of Nature Environmental Education Center as a wilderness instructor and program director.
Dr. Sugerman later taught leadership at Unity College in Maine for 16 years. It was there that she developed her skills in teaching and facilitating leadership development.
While teaching at Unity, Dr. Sugerman earned her Ph.D. in Forest Resources from the University of Maine, where she concentrated on teaching professionals to work with people with disabilities, in outdoor recreational settings.
In 1997, Dr. Sugerman began teaching at the University of New Hampshire where she developed her skills in research and evaluation. She published numerous research articles and books on facilitation, leadership development, and the efficacy of outdoor experiences with older adults.
Dr. Sugerman left the University of New Hampshire in 2003 to begin her own consulting business, Experiential Concepts. She has taken her years of experience to design high-impact experiential programs, train staff in facilitation and leadership skills, and evaluate program effectiveness.
According to Dr. Sugerman’s Experiential Concepts website, “Experiential education can be generally defined as ‘learning by doing with reflection.’ Well planned and facilitated experiential education programs are active, engaging and meaningful for participants.”
Initiatives to move the strategic plan from concept to action are being led by a ten-member committee called the Enrollment Management Policy Advisory Committee, or EMPAC.  EMPAC’s goal is to reposition the campus as Maine’s premier rural public university; educating students to become responsible citizens committed to environmental stewardship through experiential learning.
The changes outlined in the strategic plan recognize UMFK for the special place that it is, appreciates the campus’ beautiful physical location, and acknowledges the values and culture of the people of the St. John Valley. The change also understands that everyone at UMFK – students, faculty, and staff – takes engaged learning very seriously.     ###