New UMA President Dr. Jenifer Cushman visited the Rumford UMA Center on Wednesday, meeting with staff and students during a luncheon. Pictured from left are Cushman, UMA employee Amber Sinclair and student Erica Hodge of Peru. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — New UMA President Dr. Jenifer Cushman visited with staff and students at the Rumford UMA Center during a luncheon last Wednesday.

Cushman said, “Every time we visit a center, we have a meeting of center staff and often, community members and students, and I just like to hear about people’s lives — what brought them to this point and what do they see as the difference that the center is making in their lives.”

She noted, “And I’ve heard some amazing stories; UMA is really doing what it should be doing. It’s providing that access to education. I hear it over and over. I always wanted to go to college. I could never figure out how. I walked into a center and they embraced me and led me. People need to know that college is a possibility if you want it.”

UMA is statewide with two campuses, eight regional UMA Centers, over thirty classroom locations, and online access everywhere.

Cushman said, “The thing that really resonates for me (about UMA) is the total access. Most universities say you come to me, but UMA says we’ll come to you. We meet students where they are and in how they need it. It can through in-person classes. It can be through online or somewhere in between. They can earn certificates. They can earn degrees. It’s whatever the student needs at that point in their lives.”

She noted, “We want to serve the whole state, from Saco to Houlton, and Rumford to Ellsworth. The mission is that we transform students’ lives through education.”


Cushman said, “Our students are not the wealthy child who goes through high school and goes to college fulltime to get a Bachelor’s Degree. There’s no way they could go to school fulltime when they’re working as well. We’re meeting a need in our society, and I’m very proud of that. You can truly complete your college degree anywhere you are, and get the support you need to be successful.”

Cushman said UMA already serves lots of different population, but there are areas she sees possible growth.

“I think we can expand into areas like out of state and international students because we can have a worldwide reach. Seventy percent of our classes are online and also attract international students to our campuses and centers. If you think about new Mainers, there’s that population, too, that I think we can be serving better and more than we have been,” she said.

Cushman said UMA is really strong with tech. “So I see that we could branch out more into the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). We already to that with simulators, like with our aviation (flight simulators). Extend that into our VR wrelm and I think that’s a good future for UMA because it’s something that can be really used for workforce development, which we do a lot of, too.

She comes to UMA after serving as chancellor of Penn State Beaver since 2016.

Her first professional position was as assistant then associate professor of German and Russian at the University of Minnesota Morris. She was then director of off-campus study at the College of Wooster for two years, and seven years as dean of international education at Juniata College.

An American Council on Education Fellows year shifted her vocation, and Cushman moved to campus dean at Ohio University Zanesville before coming to Penn State.

UMA offers 41 degree programs, of which 28 are available completely online. Their 22 baccalaureate programs include numerous opportunities for concentration within a major. Associate degrees in 11 different programs as well as 44 minors and 49 certificate programs are also available.

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