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UMaine Today Magazine

First Impression from the President

President Peter S. Hoff
President Peter S. Hoff

Photo Courtesy of
Dept. of University Relations

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One of the most serious challenges facing Maine is the exodus of the state's young people. In recent years, a majority of Maine's college-bound high school graduates left the state for educational opportunities. The reasons are many, including a young person's inclination to experience other locales. But too often their decisions have been related to a lack of encouragement to look at in-state options and the lack of incentives to make staying in Maine appealing.

It's well documented that a high percentage of students who leave their home state for post-secondary education do not return after graduation; they tend to find employment in the region where they went to school or somewhere else where opportunities exist.

This youthful "brain drain" disadvantages the state in many ways. Maine loses some of its best talent when college-bound students go out of state. It reduces the size and quality of the talent pool from which the state's businesses, industries, and government agencies draw. Our cities and towns lose much-needed public citizens to serve in leadership positions.

In the past four years, I have visited over 100 Maine high schools to discuss this and related issues with students, teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators. They understand the seriousness of this problem and want to work together to address it. They know that it's not that Maine's high school graduates do not move on to higher education; it's that too many of them move out of state for it.

Maine has some of the finest public and private colleges and universities in the nation. Our state should be a magnet for college-bound students. Fortunately, the latest numbers offer encouragement: the proportion of recent high school graduates who stayed in Maine for post-secondary education last year rose to 50 percent, a level that it hadn't reached in several years.

UMaine attracts some of the best in-state students, especially when we are able to compete with out-of-state schools by offering comparable scholarship opportunities. This academic year alone, UMaine attracted one-quarter of Maine's 2001 high school valedictorians and salutatorians through our Top Scholar program. UMaine also attracted about a third of the state's prestigious George Mitchell Scholarship recipients. These top students could have enrolled just about anywhere; the fact that they chose UMaine is good for them and for their home state's future.

Maine's economic growth depends on our younger generations' ability to find rewarding and satisfying career opportunities and an attractive quality of life in Maine. The challenge facing all educators and policy makers is to provide the necessary incentives, encouragement, and opportunities. With state elections for governor and the legislature this fall, all of us can contribute to Maine's future by helping to keep our candidates and the voters mindful of that challenge.

President Peter S. Hoff's Signature

Peter S. Hoff


UMaine Today Magazine
Department of University Relations
5761 Howard A. Keyo Public Affairs Building
Phone: (207) 581-3744 | Fax: (207) 581-3776

The University of Maine
, Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System