University of Maine at Farmington President Kathryn A. Foster – Biography

Dr. Kathryn A. (Kate) Foster became the 14th president of the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) in 2012. A scholar-educator with over thirty years of experience in public higher education and regional policy and practice, President Foster came to UMF from a position as Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., where she was on research leave from the State University of New York at Buffalo, her academic home from 1993 to 2012. President Foster earned her B.A. in geography from the Johns Hopkins University, her M.C.P. (city planning) from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in public and international affairs from Princeton University.

Under President Foster’s leadership, UMF turned around a five-year decline in enrollment, boosted student success programs, bolstered experiential education, and developed and aligned plans for programming and investment through the university strategic plan, campus master plan, recruitment and retention plan, advancement plan, and marketing plan. With renewed attention to campus facilities, UMF has in recent years refurbished its gymnasium, created a student learning commons in Mantor Library, improved classroom spaces and lounges, upgraded residence halls, and built a Central Biomass Heat Plant, which, together with geothermal wells, has significantly reduced campus dependency on fossil fuels.

Since assuming leadership, Foster established The Public Classroom, UMF’s occasional speaker series bridging university and community; Farmington Fusion, UMF’s investment experiential education; and the Farmington Fellows Program, a unique recruitment opportunity for high school students in any of the nation’s 19 Farmingtons. During her tenure, UMF received a full ten-year accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, expanded university governance, and energized the university’s Board of Visitors. President Foster works closely with the University of Maine System Chancellor, fellow Presidents, and Trustees to chart strategic directions for the public higher education system in Maine.

President Foster serves on the boards of the Greater Franklin Development Corporation and JMG (formerly Jobs for Maine’s Graduates), and also serves as chair of the presidents’ council of the North Atlantic Conference (UMF’s athletic conference) and chair of the strategic plan committee of the Council of Public Liberal Arts College. In 2016 Foster was named by maine magazine as one of the “50 People Charting the Future of Maine.”

At the State University of New York, President Foster was Director of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, an award-winning research and policy unit informing regional issues. Prior to assuming the directorship in 2005, she served as Chair of the University at Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where as a faculty member she taught graduate, undergraduate, and honors courses.

Foster is the author of The Political Economy of Special-Purpose Government (1997), Regionalism on Purpose (2001), and numerous book chapters, articles, and policy reports. She participated actively on several New York State task forces, including the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, and was selected by Business First in 2007 as its Woman of Influence in Public Policy. From 2006 until its conclusion in 2013, Foster was Associate Director and Co-PI for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Building Resilient Regions.

Earlier in her career, Foster was a lecturer at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, served as a regional planner in the U.S. Peace Corps in Swaziland, and, in 2000-2001, as Visiting Fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University.