University of Maine News
Phys.org published a report on research conducted by Niclas Erhardt, assistant professor of human resources in the Maine Business School at the University of Maine. Erhardt studied employee self-promotion tactics, as well as ensuing responses from managers. He found office impressions are becoming increasingly shaped by communication technologies — including email — as opposed to face-to-face interaction. The study, “The Dialectical Nature of Impression Management in Knowledge Work: Unpacking Tensions in Media Use Between Managers and Subordinates” is in the May 2014 issue of Management Communication Quarterly.
More than 60 mechanical engineering students will showcase their capstone projects May 8 at the University of Maine’s Mechanical Engineering Design Open House.
Students have spent the year working in groups to develop a range of projects. One team has designed a surgical device that can be used for adult circumcision, which is linked to the reduction of HIV transmission rates in Africa. Another developed a snowmobile powered by compressed natural gas.
The majority of projects have focused on the development of heat pumps and other energy-related devices. Each team of mechanical engineers has worked diligently to design, construct and test their devices.
In addition to the showcase, the afternoon will begin with a 1 p.m. lecture by UMaine professor emeritus of mechanical engineering Dick Hill titled, “Engineering as a Liberal Study.” Hill is known for his practical perspective on energy based on sound engineering principles. His talk will use examples from bricklaying to fire hydrant design to show how an engineering education changes one’s view of daily life.
The open house will take place in Crosby Lab and the adjacent Cloke Plaza until 6 p.m.
University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has announced the appointment of Judy Ryan as vice president for administration and finance (VPAF) and Megan Sanders as associate vice president for human resources and administration (AVPHR), effective May 1.
These appointments result from the departure of Janet Waldron, former UMaine senior vice president for administration and finance, who began her appointment as vice chancellor for finance at the University of North Texas System on April 28.
Although Waldron will be available on a limited consulting basis to ensure continuity and finalization for FY14 and FY15 budget completion, the timing of Waldron’s departure requires a competent, experienced administrator overseeing the functions of the eight departments currently reporting to the VPAF. Over the next year, Ryan will lead the Office of the VPAF to examine its various functions and reporting structure, and to make recommendations regarding the management and operation of the many units that currently report to the VPAF.
Ryan is well-suited to fill the VPAF position on a one-year, fixed-length basis. She has considerable administrative experience in positions at UMaine, the University of Maine System and the University of Southern Maine (USM), including vice president for human resources and senior advisor to the president at USM; vice president for student affairs at USM; vice president for student development at USM; special assistant to the president at USM; and chief of staff and senior advisor to the chancellor of the University of Maine System.
Since 2012, Ryan has served as associate vice president for human resources and administration at UMaine. She has had a key role in the implementation and integration phases of UMaine’s Blue Sky Plan. Ryan’s broad knowledge of UMaine and the University of Maine System, and her relationships and professional connections at UMaine have prepared her to lead the departments reporting to the VPAF.
With Ryan’s reassignment, Megan Sanders, currently the associate director of human resources, will assume the position of associate vice president for human resources and administration.
The responsibilities of the AVPHR position match well with Sanders’ skills and background. She has enjoyed considerable success in her position as associate director of human resources at UMaine, and plays an integral role in the delivery of human resources-related guidance and counsel to individuals positioned at all levels of the institution. Prior to joining UMaine Human Resources, Sanders practiced law at one of northern New England’s largest law firms, focusing on labor and employment matters.
“I am very grateful that Judy and Meg have graciously agreed to step into these significant management positions at a critical time for UMaine,” said President Ferguson. “It is essential that we ensure continuity and excellence of operations while we prepare for timely and appropriate management searches. Judy and Meg will bring that continuity and excellence.”
Activities of Maine Day, the annual campus-wide spring cleanup tradition, were featured on reports by the Bangor Daily News and WABI (Channel 5). The BDN published a slide show of photos from the oozeball — mud volleyball — championship. WABI reported on other highlights including car smashing, a campus-wide barbecue, a 1k run to benefit the Ronald McDonald House and 75 volunteer projects aimed at sprucing up the campus.
WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) covered a Lombard steam log hauler restoration demonstration given by University of Maine mechanical engineering technology seniors at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley. The log hauler was invented and built in Waterville between 1910 and 1917, and was the first successful tracked vehicle. Six student teams restored the log hauler to working condition, one of only three in the world. The public was invited to learn about each team’s project and for a Lombard demonstration with compressed air. Engineering student Emmett Hodder said the restoration process was a fantastic learning experience. “I think it’s really special being one of only a couple people alive who knows how to tune one of these,” he said. Engineering student Peter Roberts told WABI he’s excited to return in 20 years to show his children the log hauler.
WLBZ (Channel 2) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the University of Maine football team hosting its seventh bone marrow drive. The drive is part of “Be the Match,” a national organization that works to save lives through transplants, and is held in honor of Jeff Cole, a former UMaine assistant football coach who died of cancer in 2004, according to the WLBZ report. The Maine women’s basketball and soccer teams also volunteered at the drive. Jack Cosgrove, head coach of the football team, told WLBZ it’s invigorating to know their efforts could save a life. Noelle Leon-Palmer, a member of the women’s soccer team, told WABI she believes student-athletes have an influence on other students, and the drive is a great way to encourage others to do something positive.
WVII (Channel 7) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the 4th annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving event at the University of Maine. Dozens of volunteers had their heads shaved in the the Steam Plant Lot during Maine Day to raise funds for and awareness of childhood cancer. UMaine sophomore Melissa Thompson told WABI she chose to shave her head after a six-year-old she knows was diagnosed with leukemia. “We’re just one big, huge Black Bear family,” she said about the university’s charity efforts.
The Bangor Daily News reported University of Maine football players Arron Achey, Michael Mangiarelli and Marcus Wasilewski have been named to the 2014 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society. The Hampshire Honor Society is made up of college football players from all divisions who maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career. The BDN also reported that Seth Woodcock, UMaine’s associate director of athletic development, is serving as the chair of the committee conducting a nationwide search for a new men’s basketball head coach.
The “Return of a River” episode of the “Sustainable Maine” series has been nominated for a Boston/New England Emmy in the Environmental category.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) show highlights the research of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), based at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center. SSI is helping communities solve interconnected economic problems while advancing sustainability science. SSI and Maine EPSCoR collaborated with MPBN to create the series.
The “Return of a River” episode features SSI researchers from the University of New England and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve studying the Saco River Estuary to develop a grading system to assess the health of the estuary using key indicators that matter to local stakeholders.
MPBN will rebroadcast “Return of a River” at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 4. Boston/New England Emmy winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Saturday, June 7. More information about the “Sustainable Maine” series is online.
Maine Sea Grant published a report about “Maine and The Mortal Sea: Taking Stock of the Past, Present and Future of Our Living Sea,” an April event held at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole. Fishermen, historians, marine scientists, authors, students, economists and fisheries managers gathered to discuss University of New Hampshire historian W. Jeffrey Bolster’s award-winning book “The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail” during the interdisciplinary symposium. The event was hosted by several UMaine departments, including the History Department, Sustainability Solutions Initiative at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center, School of Marine Sciences, Humanities Initiative and Maine Sea Grant.
The entire blog post is online.
Maine EPSCoR, an Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research funded by the National Science Foundation, has published its most recent newsletter. The Maine EPSCoR spring 2014 newsletter is available online.
Have you ever emailed a carefully crafted message over the weekend to your boss touting your accomplishments on a project?
Niclas Erhardt, assistant professor of human resources in the Maine Business School at the University of Maine, researched this employee self-promotion tactic, as well as ensuing responses from managers.
Whereas office impressions used to be predominantly determined by face-to-face interaction, Erhardt says they’re increasingly shaped by communication technologies — including email. He studied the interplay of impression management, communication technologies and opposing tensions between managers and their subordinates.
Bosses and subordinates can have competing goals, he says, which results in office friction in knowledge-based work, such as that done in consumer health, insurance and engineering firms. This results in managers and employees engaging in an interactive tug of war to manage impressions.
Erhardt says the push-and-pull tactics can help maintain balance in workplaces and allow for opposing goals to be met, which supports the idea that tension can be productive for a business. Managers, he says, should recognize that competing and legitimate goals exist and find creative ways for themselves and subordinates to achieve their differing goals, as well as the common ones.
Erhardt found three related sets of communication tactics and countertactics that signify fundamental tensions in manager-subordinate relationships: dodging response versus exerting social pressure; multicommunicating versus singular communicating; and promoting oneself versus giving credit to all.
In the promoting oneself versus giving credit to all dialectic, Erhardt found that subordinates used email to enhance their personal reputation and visibility. They might send emails late on a weeknight, on a weekend or when on vacation to demonstrate their dedication and commitment and gain “face time” with the boss.
Bosses also used email as a countertactic. Some responded to an employee’s self-promoting email by forwarding the original email from the employee after they had added their kudos for the contributions of other project members (giving credit to all).
Erhardt says managers use a tactic — a dodging response — to save time and face. Bosses inundated with multiple employee emails asking questions and requesting input may not immediately respond to the emails or selectively choose certain questions to answer. This tactic allows them to avoid being accountable or pinned down on a particular stance or topic while still maintaining a solid working relationship with subordinates.
As a countertactic, Erhardt says subordinates apply added pressure to get a timely response. They might go directly to the manager’s office to get an answer face-to-face, or send follow-up emails, texts and phone calls to push for a reply. They also might recruit co-workers to exert similar pressure on the boss.
Another tension in organizations arises when managers want employees’ undivided attention at meetings but employees wish to multitask. Erhardt refers to the ensuing impression management tactic as “multicommunicating versus singular communicating.”
Due to pressures on subordinates’ time, Erhardt says some attend meetings by teleconference and simultaneously use smartphones and laptops to complete other work-related tasks and personal chores. All the while they still strive to create the impression of being an involved team player to stay in good standing with the manager.
Managers who prefer to have employees’ undivided attention during meetings may respond by encouraging subordinates to attend meetings in person and by noting their frustration when communication devices interfere with and interrupt the productivity of the meeting.
Jennifer Gibbs, associate professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, joined Erhardt for the study.
Erhardt and Gibbs conducted the study with six consumer health, insurance and engineering firms in the United States and Sweden. The authors of the study encouraged additional research be done to better understand how impression management tactics operate with a broader array of media, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
The study, “The Dialectical Nature of Impression Management in Knowledge Work: Unpacking Tensions in Media Use Between Managers and Subordinates” is in the May 2014 issue of Management Communication Quarterly.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
WVII (Channel 7) reported members of the Senior Skull Honor Society at the University of Maine are hosting a 1K race — the Groove Mile — during Maine Day. More than 500 participants are expected to run, jog or dance the 0.6 mile course to support the Ronald McDonald House. “The Ronald McDonald has been a sponsor of ours for a while,” said UMaine student and Senior Skull member Dylan Bousquet-Smith. “We’ve worked philanthropically with them but we’ve never had an event, so we really wanted to branch out this year and grow and allow the Ronald McDonald House to get the benefits of the University of Maine.”
University of Maine’s Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Robert Dana was interviewed by the Portland Press Herald for the article, “Sex assaults at Maine colleges come out of hiding.” UMaine, with more than 10,000 students, reported five sexual assaults in 2012, down from nine in 2010, according to the article. Dana said UMaine’s numbers will go up as a result of increased education and reporting efforts that began in March 2013 when President Paul Ferguson ordered a full review of sexual assault policies and named Elizabeth Lavoie as the Title IX and sexual assault and violence prevention coordinator. “We launched a full-scale comprehensive program. We feel like we’re in the right place,” Dana said.
AltEnergyMag and North American Windpower previewed the sixth annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge to be held May 2 at the University of Maine. Developed by Maine Composites Alliance, in partnership with the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative, the contest matches high school teams with Maine-based advanced composites manufacturers to research, design and manufacture model wind blades. In addition to giving presentations, 38 high school teams from all around Maine will compete to generate the most energy over two minutes. The Maine Wind Blade Challenge was designed to inspire student exploration of alternative energy and advanced materials by participating in a hands-on STEM application.
WABI (Channel 5) spoke with Susan Lizzotte, head swim coach at the University of Maine, about former UMaine student and swimmer Erin Woolley in advance of the second annual Erin’s Run 5K Road Race held in her honor. “Erin was certainly one of a kind; always dancing and always happy,” said Lizzotte of Woolley, who passed away from cancer in 2010. Proceeds from the May 3 race in Bangor will support the UMaine swimming and diving team and Spruce Run, an organization dedicated to serving those affected by domestic abuse.
Fred Knight, former director and dean of the University of Maine School of Forest Resources, passed away Feb. 25, 2014 at 88 years old. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, May 2, at All Souls Congregational Church, 10 Broadway in Bangor. The memorial service announcement and Knight’s obituary are online.
Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, and Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, gave interviews about the steady decline in the number of baby lobsters settling off the coast of Maine and how the decrease could put an end to recent record catches. Wahle told WVII (Channel 7) there is no clear reason for the decline in baby lobsters, but cites a change in weather patterns as a possible cause. He added having an early warning is important, and one of the key benefits of the UMaine research is to allow the industry and coastal economy to prepare for change. Bayer told CBC News it takes about eight years for baby lobsters to be big enough to harvest, meaning it’s likely the end to the United State’s unprecedented catches. “We were going along a 20 million pound harvest for many, many years. Now this last year we’re up over 120 million pounds. This probably isn’t a sustainable level,” he said.
Gov. Paul LePage signed three bond proposals for research and development, sending the measures to voters this November, the Associated Press reported. The $21 million in bonds approved by LePage is part of a $50 million borrowing package lawmakers passed as they wrapped up the session. One bill would provide $8 million to renovate and improve a University of Maine Cooperative Extension lab that assists farmers and foresters and identifies pests, as well as plant and animal diseases. The Portland Press Herald and SFGate carried the AP report.
A University of Maine School of Economics study on the state’s golf industry was cited in a Portland Press Herald article about course officials saying the worst spring turf conditions in years are hurting income, forcing repairs and frustrating golfers. The study found that in 2011, Maine’s golf industry generated $269.5 million in revenue. It also accounted for 4,935 full- or part-time jobs producing $90.4 million in income.