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November / December 2004

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UMaine Today Magazine

First Impression from the President

Interim President Robert A. Kennedy
Interim President
Robert A. Kennedy

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Discovery is the essence of higher education institutions like the University of Maine. It's at the heart of our basic and applied research, and inseparable from the academic and experiential learning that goes on in and out of classrooms and laboratories. To discover is to encounter the unexpected, to find new ways of thinking about the world, to contribute information that expands our understanding, and to explore who we are as people and a society.

As such, discovery is much more than the euphoric, culminating "aha" moment. It is a dynamic, ongoing process that can take years to develop and, in the end, may or may not yield tangible results. Yet we must keep asking the questions and seeking answers to what we do not know.

In this issue of UMaine Today, as in so many others, members of the University of Maine community demonstrate the importance of discovery and the creative thinking it takes. In each case, their research and educational activism push us back to the basics, begin to answer long-held questions and urge us to consider other perspectives.

For example, research by Ph.D. wildlife ecology student Angela Fuller and professor Dan Harrison involves backtracking in order to better understand the elusive and threatened lynx. Marine archaeologist Warren Riess undertakes a similar process, taking a step back in time by exploring shipwrecks in an effort to contribute to our understanding of the past.

Philosopher Jessica Miller's research goes back to the basic, yet often unfathomed tenant of trust that has far-reaching social implications. With his knowledge of the latest advances in information technology, spatial engineer and lawyer Harlan Onsrud is involved in ongoing inquiry about its capabilities and limitations. In Cooperative Extension, a youth program dares to question, then reenvision, society's long-standing definition of beauty.

And then there's Linne Mooney. In her more than two decades of scholarship devoted to the study of medieval manuscripts, she has compiled a database of more than 200 scribes who were working in England from 13751425. Mooney also is one of the pioneers in using computer technology in manuscript research. This year, she made headlines around the world with a classic "aha" moment identification of the scribe who wrote for Chaucer.

Discovery. It's what we're about at the University of Maine.

Robert A. Kennedy Signature

UMaine Today Magazine
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