PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Dr. Linda K. Schott officially took office as the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s 11th president on July 2, after the departure of Dr. Don Zillman, who held the position from 2006 to 2012.
Schott and her family have spent the summer getting to know the area, visiting several communities and meeting with residents and business leaders. The new president said she’s pleased with what she has seen so far and looks forward to getting to know the area and its residents better. To help in that respect, Schott held a pie and ice cream social at her home on campus Aug. 23 during the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival.
“I’m just getting to know the place. This gave me an opportunity to meet several members of the community, hear their interests and concerns with regard to the university, Presque Isle and surrounding towns,” said Schott.
Although she does not have specific goals picked out this early in her new job as head of UMPI, Schott said they will be both community- and campus-based.
“I want to work on an action plan that incorporates both — reaches beyond the campus. I will be doing some planning, including information obtained from individuals both on and off campus. I’ll form ideas based on that data,” she said.
Internally, Schott said she’s dealing with interim staff regarding student affairs and athletics.
“I want to see what the senior team looks like as well. I want to find out what’s working and where our strengths and weaknesses are,” she said. “I want to make sure we have the right people in the right places.”
Schott said she’d also like to find ways to raise much-needed funds.
“I want to increase our fundraising efforts. We also have to think about our finances. We have a great chief financial officer, Charlie Bonin, but he’s due to retire one of these days. He’s such an institution, we’ll have to plan for the transition, with time for the new person to learn about our budget,” said Schott.
“I will be meeting with each faculty and staff member to see where they’re at and what’s of interest to them,” she said.
President Schott said that in addition to working with people at the local level, she wants to reach out to UMPI alumni.
“I will be engaging in conversations with alumni all over — in our state and beyond. I’d like to meet with them whenever I can, including when trips take me elsewhere. I want to work with them to see how they can help current students, through internships, etc.,” said Schott.
“I’ll also talk with faculty and staff to see how we prepare students to be workforce-ready — help them understand proper behaviors on the job, ways to give them a leg-up,” said Schott. “It’s a matter of resources and how to use them to the best advantage of our students.”
Schott said she hopes to work with community leaders to offer workshops and other programs to educate students on what to expect once they graduate.
“I’m being inducted into the Presque Isle Rotary Club, which will give me an opportunity to get to know local business leaders,” said Schott.
Schott served as the dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., since 2008. She was at Eastern Michigan University from 2003 to 2008, where she served in several capacities including associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and interim department head of the Department of History and Philosophy. She also was the founding director of the Center for Study of Women and Gender (1993-2001) and director of the American Studies Program (1989-93) at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and German from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, as well as a master’s degree in history and a doctorate in history and humanities, both from Stanford University in California.
As a first-generation college student, Schott said she needed the support of her family and friends and the mentorship of many teachers and colleagues to achieve her dream of becoming a college professor and now a president.
“Our job at UMPI is to help today’s students achieve their dreams and by so doing, strengthen The County, the state of Maine, the nation and the world,” said Schott. “As long as that remains our foremost commitment, the future of UMPI is bright and secure, and I am excited to be part of the team leading to that future.”
President Schott, her husband, Thomas Fuhrmark, their three teenagers, a dog and three cats made the 2,700-mile cross-country trip from Durango to Presque Isle in June. They are now settled in at the President’s House and looking forward to the 2012-13 academic year.
“We have a daughter in eighth grade and our sons are sophomores,” said Schott, noting she has a blended family. “The kids are excited and looking forward to the new school year and making new friends. We all agree, we like it here.”
Anyone wishing to meet Schott can do so by calling 768-9525 to set up an appointment.