Top Stories: August 28 Campus Connections

Welcome to SMCC, first day of class fall 2017!

Welcome to the Fall Semester

The Fall Semester has kicked off with the arrival of thousands of students who will find a renovated Oceanview Dining Hall, new academic offerings, new faculty and a new study-abroad opportunity that includes travel to the Dominican Republic.

The South Portland and Midcoast campuses came alive on Aug. 28 with the first day of classes. Here’s a sampling of some new things worth noting:

  • Oceanview Dining Hall renovations. The South Portland Campus dining hall got a complete makeover during the summer, with a new food island, grill stations and allergen-free offerings, as well as new tables and chairs, décor and outdoor patio.
  • New classes. Classes being offered for the first time beginning this fall are ARAB 101 Beginning Arabic I (ARAB 101), Light Duty Diesel Performance (AUTO 280), and History of Rock (MUSI 145).
  • Gym floor. The HUB gym floor was resurfaced in May for the first time in 13 years, giving it a shine and luster like never before.
  • Global Studies Center courses. This year brings a new Global Studies Center course that includes a study-abroad component in the Caribbean. The class, Latin American Sports & Gender, is a Spring Semester online course that includes travel to the Dominican Republic over spring break. Applications are now being accepted for that class and the other Global Studies Center course, Italian Renaissance Art & Architecture (with travel to Italy). For more information, contact the Global Studies Center at

Photo: First-year student Callie Reid (left) and returning student Anne Meroney are all smiles on the first day of the semester.

SMCC joins Achieving the Dream; kickoff scheduled for Sept. 14

Southern Maine Community College has joined Achieving the Dream, a network of more than 220 community colleges nationwide dedicated to improving student success.

An Achieving the Dream (ATD) kickoff will be held from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, in the HUB on the South Portland Campus. All SMCC faculty and staff are invited to attend, and all classes between 1-4 p.m. will be canceled that day.

The Kresge Foundation last fall awarded an $810,000 grant to The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, allowing SMCC and the state’s other community colleges to join the Achieving the Dream network. As part of the ATD framework, SMCC will work one-on-one with dedicated ATD coaches over the next three years, using data-based approaches to improve student outcomes.

Achieving the Dream builds upon SMCC’s commitment to be strategically focused on students’ individual success, said SMCC President Ron Cantor. Student success leads to improved skills, better jobs and economic growth, he said.

“Achieving the Dream is helping us prioritize student success strategies with solid evidence,” he said. “We are learning what works best and bringing it to scale.”
Among those speaking at the ATD kickoff will be Derek Langhauser, president of the Maine Community College System.

A 17-member SMCC Achieving the Dream success core team has already begun work. The team members are: Leslie Barteaux (Institutional Research); Ron Cantor (SMCC President); Paul Charpentier (Interim Dean of Academics); Kathleen Doan (Assistant Dean of Student Success) Tim Dunne (Dean of IT); Valerie Green (Associate Professor, Department Chair of Computer Information Sciences); Rachel Guthrie (Assistant Professor, Co-chair of Communications & New Media Services); Dennis Leaver (Professor, Science); Kaylene Mitchell (Dean of Enrollment & Student Success); Mary Jo O’Connor (Instructor, Education and Human Services); Chuck Ott (Instructor, Art); Rachel Parse (Assistant Professor, Chair of Early Childhood Education); Mark Reuscher (Associate Professor, Chair of Business Administration); Kevin Sweeney (Professor, Chair of English); Teresa Swinbourne (Instructor, Math); Jim Whitten (Midcoast Campus Dean); and Brittany Williams (Admissions Counselor).

SMCC mobile app helps students connect

SMCC students can connect with each other and the college through an SMCC mobile app.
The SMCC app — which can be downloaded for free on Android and iOS devices — serves as a tool for students to stay informed and feel a sense of belonging at SMCC.

The app includes things like events, maps, a directory, information on student organizations and sports schedules, but it aims to be more than simply an information tool.

It was designed with student engagement in mind by allowing students to interact with information and each other, pull classes and events into their calendars, set reminders for class assignments and even connect students with peers to form study groups.
Many students have used the app to buy and sell textbooks, seek rides to SMCC, post job openings or ask random questions.

The app was developed by OohLaLa, an app development company that produces custom apps for post-secondary institutions.


Say #helloSMCC — and get free stuff

Get to know SMCC (and let SMCC get to know you) through our #helloSMCC campaign by posting photos and videos of yourselves and your favorite places around campus to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the #helloSMCC hashtag. We’ll give away free stuff for the best posts.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to post photos using other hashtags as well (think #SMCCMidcoastCampus, #SMCCAthletics, #SMCCReslife, or #SMCCStartSmart.)

Don’t forget to stop by the #helloSMCC table at the Welcome BBQ. We’ll be giving away stuff to people who post at the BBQ, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31, outside the Dining Hall on the South Portland Campus.

Summer Academy completes 3rd successful year

Dozens of recent high school graduates got a jump start on their SMCC college careers during a three-week summer program that provides them guidance and support to succeed on the college level.

Sixty-eight students enrolled in this summer’s Summer Academy, up from about 40 last summer and 29 who took part in the inaugural year in 2015. Most students came from the Portland area, but some came from as far away as Sanford, Camden, and Lewiston. One student came from New Hampshire.

The intensive preparatory program prepares students for college-level coursework, guides them in setting career and academic goals and introduces them to college life. About 20 of the students lived in SMCC residence halls during program.

The students also participated in fun events such as history tours of Fort Preble, two barbecue luncheons, a field day for games of soccer and volleyball, and a day with time spent on the beach.

AED internship program leads to jobs

A program that places Architectural & Engineering Design students into paid internships with the City of South Portland is reaping rewards for students and employers.

Every summer, the South Portland Water Resource Protection department hires an AED student for the summer to create record drawings of existing infrastructure of the wastewater treatment facilities using building information modeling software known as Revit.

Now in its fifth year, the program has resulted in good jobs for every intern. Previous interns have been hired by Bennett Engineering in Freeport and Becker Engineering in Portland, while two have been hired by Wright-Pierce in Portland, said Meridith Comeau, chair of the AED program.

This summer’s intern, Rich Stone, graduated with a degree in Architectural & Engineering Design in May. He’s been offered an extension on his internship, which will serve as a steppingstone to his next job.

“The amount of real-world experience I have gained in such a short amount of time is astounding,” he said. “When I first started fresh from school, I knew the basics and I knew the software. What I didn’t know was that was only the tip of the iceberg.”
The Water Resource Protection employees are well-connected, he said. “They seem to know at least one person at every firm around, and that means I’ve met a lot of potential employers,” he said.

Brad Weeks, manager of engineering for the Water Resource Protection department, said the work done by Stone and other interns at the city’s wastewater treatment plants and pump stations has been invaluable to the city. They create 3-D drawings of all of the equipment ranging from pipes and valves down to HVAC and electrical systems that will be used for decades down the road.

“It’s a huge cost-savings and time-savings to have these in place,” he said.

Students present scientific research at symposium

Six SMCC students who took part in summer fellowships presented the findings of their scientific research at a symposium at a leading research lab in Maine.

The students made their presentations in early August during the symposium at MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor. The research was supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institutes of Health.

The students conducted the research during summer fellowships at MDIBL, Bates College, Bowdoin College and Maine Medical Center Research Institute.

The participating students were:

  • Taysier Elshaikh (in photo, whose fellowship was at MMCRI)
  • Emily Torrey (Bowdoin)
  • Cameron Fudge (MDIBL)
  • Samantha White (MDIBL)
  • Carla Woodward (Bates)
  • John Onesti (MMCRI)