BANGOR — The University of Maine is launching an effort to focus on areas of distinction and to launch new programs to better align with the state’s needs.

“The Blue Sky Project” was launched shortly after President Paul Ferguson came to UMaine last July and was inaugurated in April.

He says the idea isn’t just to make UMaine bigger, better and more financially sustainable but that it’s also “about reconnecting the university with the people of Maine.” From November 2011 to April, a 26-member leadership team met weekly to develop the plan.

University of Maine System trustees approved the plan on Monday. Trustees also approved Theo Kalikow as the new president of the University of Southern Maine and former USM President Selma Botman.

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