An endowed scholarship fund and political science professorship have been established at the University of Maine Foundation with more than $2 million in gifts from John Nickerson, a University of Maine alumnus and professor emeritus at the University of Maine at Augusta who died in May 2013.
University of Maine Foundation President/CEO Jeffery Mills made the announcement in UMaine’s North Stevens Hall, where the John Mitchell Nickerson Room was dedicated in honor of the member of the UMaine class of 1959.
“Dr. Nickerson’s gift will forever remind us of his love of higher education and his firm belief in its role in changing students’ lives,” said University of Maine President Dr. Susan Hunter.
“UMaine was fortunate to know him as an alumnus, scholar and teacher. With this gift, Dr. Nickerson will continue to touch the lives of students, this time through his vision and generosity.”
The room, decorated with Nickerson’s collection of fine furniture, artwork, oriental rugs and silver, was his gift to UMaine faculty and staff as a place to relax. Along with that thoughtful gesture to his former colleagues, Nickerson made a generous gift to future UMaine political science faculty and students with an endowed professorship and an endowed scholarship fund. Both will be held at the University of Maine Foundation.
The professorship will be known as the John Mitchell Nickerson Professorship of Political Science and will provide support for an accomplished UMaine political science professor.
The endowed John M. Nickerson Scholarship Fund will make merit awards to UMaine juniors and seniors who are residents of Maine and are majoring in political science or participating in the prelaw program. The fund is expected to generate approximately $100,000 per year for scholarships, starting in 2016.
“This substantial gift will result in one of the largest scholarship funds managed by the University of Maine Foundation,” said Mills. “Dr. Nickerson was a dedicated political science professional and scholar, with this significant and ongoing support for UMaine students and faculty his work will continue to advance in Maine and beyond.”
Although Nickerson was a UMaine alumnus and longtime graduate faculty member, most of his career he taught political science at UMA, where he left a $180,000 endowed scholarship fund, which will be held by the University of Maine System.
“I worked with John for over 14 years, and there isn’t anyone who was more dedicated to his students. He expected a lot from them, and he gave all of himself to his work,” said Brenda McAleer, Dean of Professional Studies at UMA. “The scholarship he has left for UMA could not be a more fitting tribute or legacy to his work here.”
Before he passed away, Nickerson described his life as “devoted to the teaching of his students” whose careers he followed and spoke often of. His gifts were a manifestation of his devotion to education.
Nickerson was born in Lewiston, Maine on July 1, 1937, the son of Elmer Winfield Nickerson and Marion Gertrude Howard. He lived his early life in Auburn, Maine, and graduated from Edward Little High School in 1955.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1959 at the University of Maine, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army. While in the Army, he earned a master’s degree from Washington State University in 1966. He was awarded his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Idaho in 1971.
Nickerson was a member of several academic honor societies, including Pi Alpha Alpha and Pi Sigma Alpha, the national honor societies for public affairs and administration, and political science, respectively.
He was a member of the many professional organizations, including the American Academy of Political and Social Science; the American Political Science Association; the American Society for Public Administration; the Maine Magistrates Council; the New England Political Science Association; the Northeastern Political Science Association; and The Academy of Political Science.
He was active in the community and was a member and officer of many organizations. He is listed in Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in American Politics; and Who’s Who in the World.
The University of Maine Foundation was established in 1934 to encourage gifts and bequests to promote academic achievement, research and intellectual pursuit at the University of Maine. Currently, the foundation manages more than 1,500 endowed funds that benefit UMaine.