FARMINGTON — Kathryn A. Foster, who once imagined herself as a cartographer, said she wouldn’t have predicted living on this spot on the map, much less serving as a university president.

After completing her first year with the University of Maine at Farmington, Foster was formally inaugurated as the school’s 14th president this afternoon in front of a crowd of 500 colleagues, students, community members and friends.

Speakers before Foster’s inaugural address praised her for energy and approachability, describing her emails to the faculty as “works of art” and her enthusiasm as contagious.

Foster told the crowd during her inaugural address that she is excited to lead the university toward the future of higher education, though the landscape of higher education is ever changing.

She said students today have high expectations about technology, embrace diversity and are accustomed to customization.

Even in the current climate of declining enrollment and revenue, she said the university system should seek to meet and exceed students’ expectations.

“In meeting these, we expect to be held accountable,” she said. “In short, we expect changes.”

She added, however, that in the changing landscape of higher education, UMF has not only changed with the times but also held on to its values of broadening student horizons and preparing them for life.

“Important as change has been to our story, equally important has been our narrative of constancy,” she said.

Foster earned undergraduate degree in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University and earned a doctorate at Princeton University. Before she was hired at UMF, she served as professor, and later chairwoman, in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Buffalo.

Foster pointed out her nontraditional background before she became president, having never served previously as a university president or dean.

“I must have written a great cover letter,” she joked.

After a year on the job, Foster said she is looking forward to ushering the university toward its future.

“My decision to come here to this dazzling and plucky university, in this cool small town, in this gorgeous region, in this proud and wonderful state, that decision to fully change and disrupt my life, that decision was the best decision I ever made,” she said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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