Coach/Teammates Influence Giving

Coach/Teammates Influence Giving

Dick and Maureen Todd

In his University of Maine football career, Walter Abbott led his UMaine Black Bear team to greatness on and off the field.

For Dick Todd ’72, “[Walt] had a tremendous positive influence on my development as a young man. It was time to do something that would help other future students and also to recognize Walt” Dick and his wife, Maureen, now live in Maineville, Ohio, but Dick remembers growing up in the University of Maine culture. “My dad grew up in Freedom, Maine, and my grandmother was always taking art classes in the summer,” said Dick. His family’s influence led him to attend the University of Maine in 1968.

Maureen and Dick lived in Hancock and Gannet Halls, respectively, for their first years. Dick became a walk-on UMaine football player and Maureen matriculated in the speech pathology program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dick was number 73 on the football team, and looked forward to his training camp every summer, “Walt seemed to greet me each year at preseason camp with a new challenge. He knew my skill set and it didn’t include any position where I had to handle the ball. I was destined for the line,” said Dick. Aher just one year of high school football, Dick’s passion for the sport was drawn out by Walt Abbott, as well as his teammates.

When it came time to decide how Dick and Maureen would give back to their alma mater, Dick was again influenced by his coach and teammates: “I met with two of my former teammates who were active donors. We were all at Maine when the Athletic Department was recognizing Walt for his 50 years of service. Gene Benner (’70) and Rod Sparrow (’71) had been generous contributors and offered me some excellent perspectives,” Dick said.

In addition to their generous giving and alumni status, Maureen and Dick are also a Bear Pair; a couple who met at UMaine, and who have stayed together ever since r Dick recounts the day he met Maureen: “Maureen and I met when Walt asked several seniors to take some prospective players to a basketball game. She was sitting in the bleachers next to a mutual friend. We have been happily married for 42 years and are blessed with two children and six grandchildren.”

Over $133,000 raised in tribute to President Susan J. Hunter

Three people smiling, woman holding award, Board Chair Kurt Marston, UMaine President Susan Hunter, Foundation President/CEO Jeff Mills

University of Maine Foundation Board Chair Kurt R. Marston ’74, ’79G, UMaine President Susan J. Hunter ’50H and UMaine Foundation President/CEO Jeffery N. Mills ’82 at Dr. Hunter’s recent tribute dinner.

During a recent tribute dinner for University of Maine President Susan J. Hunter, University of Maine Foundation Board Chair Kurt R. Marston joined Foundation President/CEO Jeffery N. Mills in presenting Dr. Hunter a certificate acknowledging over $133,000 raised in her honor. As a tribute to her leadership and as an integral part of UMaine’s Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign, donors, alumni, faculty, staff, friends and family donated in her honor as Dr. Hunter had declined a traditional retirement party. Instead, she agreed to a fundraising effort to support the top priorities of UMaine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign — scholarships and the Engineering Education and Design Center.

Mills began the fundraising effort by naming two new Foundation funds in her honor: the President Susan J. Hunter Maine Top Scholars Scholarship and the President Susan J. Hunter Engineering and Education Design Center Fund. The scholarship is an endowed scholarship that will provide annual support to UMaine students from Maine who excel academically. The second fund will provide a naming gift for a space in the new engineering facility. Donors were happy to support both the campaign and President Hunter’s legacy, said Mills.

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Vision for Tomorrow Match Helps Future Surveyors

Shep Sheppard ’86 of Shyka, Sheppard & Garster

Undergraduate scholarships are an essential component of the University of Maine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign. An estate gift from an anonymous donor is leveraging additional support for many existing scholarship funds as part of the campaign, including a scholarship that was established in 2005 by Shyka, Sheppard & Garster (SSG) of Bangor, Maine. SSG provides a full range of surveying services and utilizes the latest surveying technologies to produce accurate, timely, and cost-effective survey and spatial information for a variety of industry sectors including engineering, architecture, construction, land development, public utilities, and local, state, and federal government.

Shep Sheppard ’86 is one of two founders of SSG. He received his Bachelor’s degree in surveying engineering from UMaine and continues to live in Orono, just a few miles from his alma mater. Shep serves on the industrial advisory committee of UMaine’s Surveying Engineering Technology program and is also connected to the College of Engineering through his late father, Edmund “Ned” Sheppard, who was on the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department for many years.

Shep points out that the original idea for the scholarship came from his business partner, Rob Garster. Rob and Shep founded their company in 1994 and acquired the assets of Andrew J. Shyka, PLS in 1998. Andrew “Andy” Shyka was considered by all to be a tremendous mentor, and the SSG principals felt that creating the Andrew J. Shyka Surveying Scholarship was the “right thing to do.” In addition to honoring Andy Shyka’s commitment to his profession, the scholarship helps the University of Maine and its students. SSG has given more than $25,000 to the scholarship, qualifying Shep and Rob for membership within the University of Maine’s prestigious Stillwater Society. “The Vision for Tomorrow match is a great program,” said Shep, “it’s a similar incentive to the 80th match,” which the company utilized to strengthen its scholarship while celebrating the 80th anniversary of the University of Maine Foundation.

Dana Humphrey, Dean of the College of Engineering, underscores the value of the Vision for Tomorrow campaign for the College of Engineering. “We are experiencing a tremendous demand for our graduates,” said Humphrey, “the new Engineering Education and Design Center and scholarships such as the one established by Shyka, Sheppard & Garster will help us provide Maine and our nation with talented professionals. It is rewarding to see our alumni giving back to help the next generation of students.”

The scholarship also provides Shep with an opportunity to remember his own experience as a student and how his years at UMaine prepared him for a career that he continues to enjoy. “I actually appreciate all aspects of my work,” said Shep, “I like being outside and the diversity of our projects, ranging from the Jackson Laboratory to the Cumberland County Civic Center.” He explains that his work takes him out on the water and into the woods. “The best part of our business, however, is the relationships. That’s what I enjoy the most and what really matters.”

Vision for Tomorrow Matching Gift Program Raised Over $4.8 Million

A $1 million bequest to the University of Maine Foundation from an anonymous donor has leveraged $3.8 million in additional support for the University of Maine as part of the now-completed Vision for Tomorrow matching gift program.

The majority of the support is directed to undergraduate scholarships. Other UMaine programs also have benefited, including Fogler Library and the New Writing Series in the Department of English. Donors have used the match to leverage support for existing endowments and to create 45 new ones.

Alumnus and philanthropist Anne Collins ’61 is one of those donors. “I am pleased to support the College of Education, where I earned my degree in 1961 and then went on to begin my teaching career,” she says. “Utilizing the Vision for Tomorrow 1:3 matching gift program, my scholarship provides additional resources to help them prepare the next generation of educators.”

Part of the match targeted scholarships for students from Maine who are top scholars or can demonstrate financial need that is unmet by federal sources.

“We take great pride in our tradition of helping Maine students afford an outstanding UMaine education,” says Jeffery N. Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation. “With this new matching initiative donors have made a tremendous difference. Over the long term, we can keep more of our best and brightest in Maine where they can contribute to Maine’s economy and quality of life.”

In discussing the progress of the campaign, UMaine President Susan J. Hunter underscored the importance of both merit and need-based scholarships for Maine students.  

“Accessibility and affordability are central to our mission,” Hunter says.  “We embrace the opportunity to educate the leaders of tomorrow who will make a tremendous difference here in Maine and beyond.”

Financial aid for students is a top priority for the campaign, which has already raised more than $155 million to date for scholarships, a new Engineering Education and Design Center, and other needs on campus and in the university’s other locations across Maine, including the Darling Marine Center in Walpole and the Frederick Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

More information about the Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign is online at

SPIFFY wins portfolio competition

Bull statue

SPIFFY, the Maine Business School’s student investment club, has won first-place in a worldwide portfolio competition.

The competition was part of the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (GAME) VIII forum March 22–24 in New York City, in which 1,500 students from more than 160 colleges and universities had the opportunity to interact with industry leaders and learn best practices in investment strategy.

An important feature of the annual event is the portfolio competition that compares the performance of student-managed investment funds. Each college investment team submitted its portfolio account statements, along with asset holdings.

“This is the first time SPIFFY has won this challenging competition and so it is a very significant success,” says Sebastian Lobe, assistant professor of finance and SPIFFY co-adviser with finance and accounting lecturer Matt Skaves.

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University of Maine Foundation announces largest capital gift in UMaine history

An anonymous gift of $10 million from the family of a University of Maine engineering graduate has been committed to help construct UMaine’s Engineering Education and Design Center, according to UMaine President Susan J. Hunter and University of Maine Foundation President Jeffery N. Mills.

This is the single largest capital gift in UMaine history, bringing UMaine’s Vision for Tomorrow campaign to over $148 million of the $200 million goal, Mills says.

“This investment builds on the remarkable growth and success of UMaine engineering, one of our seven Signature Areas of Excellence,” Hunter says. “We’ve seen a 70 percent growth in undergraduate enrollment in the College of Engineering since 2001. The Engineering Education and Design Center will help the College of Engineering expand its capacity to help meet student demand and Maine’s need for engineers.

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