The Hedlunds’ Next Phase

Posted June 16, 2010, at 6:53 p.m.

The Bangor region is sad to see Joyce and Wesley Hedlund leave, but their contributions to the state are far from over.

Last month, Ms. Hedlund retired as president of Eastern Maine Community College, a campus she joined 22 years ago. Wes has retired as a biology teacher at Bangor High School after 41 years there.

The couple soon will be headed Down East as Joyce will become president of Washington County Community College in Calais.

Both educators have had long careers full of accolades and awards.

Joyce, a native of Fort Kent, began her career in education in 1969 as a teacher in Ashland. She then moved to higher education, holding a variety of positions at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of Maine and then Husson College. In 1987, she jointed what was then Eastern Maine Technical College in Bangor as a counselor in the student support center. Five years later, she was named the college’s acting vice president and academic dean. In 1995, she became the school’s president.

During her time at EMCC, the school’s enrollment doubled, its campus grew, and it was transformed, as part of a systemwide initiative, into a community college with closer ties to the University of Maine System.

She has served on numerous local boards, including Eastern Maine Healthcare System, the Maine Women’s Forum and Eastern Maine Development Corp.

“Joyce is an outstanding college leader,” John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, said in announcing her move to WCCC. “I believe she is among the best in New England, and I’m delighted she will stay in the community college system.”

Students at Bangor High are “lamenting” Wes Hedlund’s departure, said Cary James, chairman of the school’s science department.

Wes’ annual field trip to Schoodic Point was a highlight of the school year. Students organized a surprise party for Mr. Hedlund, showing how popular he was, Mr. James said.

In 1983, Wes was the first Maine teacher to receive a presidential award in science teaching. A year later, he was among the five finalists for the teacher in space program. Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire teacher, was chosen that year to be the first teacher in space. She tragically died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.

“He was an absolute legend, a great guy and a marine biologist extraordinaire,” Mr. James said of his colleague.

The Hedlunds will be missed in the Bangor area, but we wish them well as they begin a new chapter in Washington County.

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