William and Harriet Currie: Providing for UMaine’s Future

William and Harriet Currie: Providing for UMaine’s Future

William D. Currie, fondly known as Bill, was always full of hope for the future. Bill also planned for the future of a place that was near and dear to his heart: Buchanan Alumni House. In 2013 in his role as Co-President of the Class of 1952 Bill facilitated the creation of the Class of 1952 Buchanan Alumni House Fund, a permanently endowed fund at the University of Maine Foundation that provides financial assistance for the operation and maintenance of the Robert D. Buchanan Alumni House facility.

Bill and his wife, Harriett, spent a lot of time at the place he considered the home of Black Bear alumni. They enjoyed attending Reunions, Class of 1952 meetings, and visiting their friends at the University of Maine Foundation and Alumni Association, both of which are fortunate to have Buchanan Alumni House as their home.

During Bill’s lifetime, he and Harriett consistently donated to the Class of 1952 Buchanan Alumni House Fund. In Black Bear spirit, he asked many of his classmates to do the same. Bill wanted his legacy of exemplary leadership and extensive service to the University of Maine as a proud alumnus to live in perpetuity, so he decided to name the University of Maine Foundation as a beneficiary of an employer-sponsored life insurance policy to benefit the Class of 1952 Buchanan Alumni House Fund.

Bill’s remarkable leadership and service as a Black Bear alumnus were recognized with several alumni achievement awards, including the Block “M” Award (1997), Black Bear Award (2002), Golden “M” Award (2002), and the Pine Tree Emblem Alumni Service Award (2011). Bill was grateful for his UMaine undergraduate experience, which he believed gave him a strong foundation for his success in life – both professionally and personally. Bill was also fortunate to meet his classmate Harriett, and the Bear Pair built a wonderful life together. Sadly, Bill and Harriett both passed away in 2020. They will be missed dearly by all who were fortunate to be part of their Black Bear family.

Loyal Benefactors, Dan ’63 and Betty Churchill, Announce $6.5 Million Bequest Expectancy at University of Maine Foundation Event

Loyal Benefactors, Dan ’63 and Betty Churchill, Announce $6.5 Million Bequest Expectancy at University of Maine Foundation Event

At a recent University of Maine Foundation virtual Homecoming event, University of Maine benefactors Dan ’63 and Betty Churchill shared their intentions to make estate gifts estimated at up to $6.5 million to benefit the University of Maine. 

Their gifts will endow two $1.5 million School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) professorships, one Climate Change Institute (CCI) post-doctoral position or professorship, a SPIA faculty research fund, with additional funding for multiple SPIA internships and fellowships, along with a CCI student/faculty travel fund.  

“We are very pleased to celebrate this gift with Dan and Betty. This will be one of the top five individual gifts UMaine has ever received. We are honored to be asked to steward their legacy,” said Foundation President Jeffery Mills. 

Dan also shared his thoughts about legacy giving: “Get in contact with the University, think through what it is you want to do, work with the faculty, get to know what would be effective for the University and what corresponds with things you are truly interested in. Then get involved before it becomes a legacy, get involved while you’re still above ground because that’s where the fun is. Get in, get started and involved in some way.”

Along with that announcement, the Churchills’ latest philanthropic support for the University of Maine has provided $300,000 to fund a School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) faculty position focused on climate change policy. This joint position with the Department of Political Science, will begin to establish SPIA as a leader in graduate education on climate change policy in an international context and is expected to be filled for a fall 2021 start. 

Dan sees how the accomplishments and reputation of CCI, together with the achievements of SPIA, provide a firm basis from which to extend the University of Maine’s stature and visibility in climate change policy — a field essential for the future of all. “Among the reasons that the University of Maine is a place that we really enjoy supporting, in addition to their extremely efficient use of funds, is that it’s filled with outstanding faculty who work together in a very collaborative fashion that exemplifies the values of Mainers, and so it’s a real pleasure to be part of this organization. Furthermore, we have met and become friends with students who are not only excellent academically, but are also truly fine human beings. The greatest reward is found in seeing what these students can do with a fine education and what they can contribute to society,” shared Dan in announcing their commitment. 

Throughout the last academic year, Dan and Betty worked with UMaine Foundation Philanthropy Officer Matt Mullen to document these estate plans, in consultation with SPIA Director Jim Settele, CCI Director Paul Mayewski, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Emily Haddad. 

“These gifts exemplify the Churchills’ vision for the University of Maine as a leading institution in the advancement of science; in the preparation of exceptionally capable graduates; in the creation of productive, life-long relationships between students and mentors; and in opportunity for international experience and transnational understanding,” said Haddad. 

Dan earned a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of Maine in 1963 and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He later completed graduate work at Boston University, receiving an M.S. in 1971 and M.B.A. in 1972. 

Betty Richardson Churchill is a 1958 graduate of Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Dickinson and UMaine have become connected through Betty’s commitment to Dickinson, Dan’s commitment to UMaine, and their joint dedication to higher education.

Dan and Betty traveled extensively and for years lived abroad and worked in public service and the private sector, as Dan pursued a very successful career in international finance and Betty achieved success in the CIA and the United States Air Force.  

They found that these experiences altered their lives and were of great value. “We believe that it is critically important for citizens of any country to be well and broadly educated. An international perspective is absolutely necessary for young people, and especially future leaders, to grasp the problems of our deeply interconnected world. Only from such understanding can solutions emerge that truly address the needs of the community of nations. We see how vital it is that future leaders are familiar with both the scientific facts and the cultural contexts that frame today’s massive global problems–climate change first among them.” stated the Churchills about their motivation.

As Paul Mayewski notes, “The Climate Change Institute has benefited from Dan and Betty Churchill’s presence since 2005 in so many remarkable ways. They have opened the way for exploration for many of our graduate students. They have shared their experiences in industry, government and their respect and love for looking forward and into new places. They have accompanied us during some of our expeditions to remote reaches of the Earth and they have helped us to move climate science into the policy arena. Now they are providing even more opportunities for the Institute to remain in the forefront of discovery and in charting pathways forward for the constantly emerging challenges posed by climate change.”

The Churchills live in Washington, D.C. and are members of the Royal Geographical Society and the World Affairs Councils. Dan also serves on the University of Maine  Board of Visitors.

Background on the Churchill’s philanthropic relationship with UMaine:

The Churchills’ UMaine philanthropic interests have focused on graduate study in two units: the Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA). 

Fifteen years ago, in 2005, they launched the Churchill Exploration Fund, which covers expenses for CCI graduate students to conduct research in field sites far from Maine — from Pamir to Peru, Antarctica to Asia. 

In 2009, the Churchills began funding the Churchill Internship to help SPIA students gain professional experience with organizations as varied as Somali refugee camps in Kenya, Mercy Corps in Timor-Leste, the United Nations in New York City, and the African Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C., among others.   

Dan has come to know many students and takes a deep interest in their research endeavors and internships. In 2007, he traveled with anthropology professor Dan Sandweiss and a group of undergraduate and graduate students to the north coast of Peru. In 2009, Dan and Betty traveled to Antarctica with Paul Mayewski, director of the CCI. Dan also has traveled with SPIA to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in 2008 and 2012 for conferences co-hosted by SPIA and the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research. 

Dan chairs the SPIA Board of Advisors. In this role, he is a spokesperson for the value of international education and a strong and effective advocate for students. He even stays in touch with them after they graduate and continues to mentor SPIA alumni and students.

The UMaine Graduate School recognized the Churchills’ commitment to graduate education and research by making them the first inductees into the George Davis Chase Society, in 2012. Dr. Chase was the first dean of the Graduate School at UMaine (1923–1938), and the award in his honor recognizes individuals who are not students or university employees and who have made “significant contributions to graduate studies at UMaine.” 

In 2014, the CCI recognized Dan and Betty Churchill by establishing a new award in their honor — the Churchill Award for Outstanding Exploration. This annual award is made on a competitive basis to graduate students whose research has been supported by the Churchill Fund and presented at the Borns Symposium.

First National Bank pledges $25,000 to support the Mount Desert Island Region Leaders Club of the University of Maine Scholarship

First National Bank pledges $25,000 to support the Mount Desert Island Region Leaders Club of the University of Maine Scholarship

Pictured l to r: First National Bank Executive Vice President,  Steve Parady ’77, University of Maine Alumni Association Board Member and Business Development Officer of First National Bank, Sarah Dubay ’97, ’00G, University of Maine Foundation President/CEO Jeffery Mills ’82, First National Bank President/CEO Tony McKim ’89, University of Maine Alumni Association President/CEO John N. Diamond ’77, ’89G, and University of Maine Alumni Association Board Member and AVP. Senior Business Development Officer of First National Bank, Kristen McAlpine ’06.

Editor’s note: photo was manipulated to comply with social distancing measures.

University of Maine Foundation President Jeffery Mills together with First National Bank President Tony McKim announce a $25,000 pledge from the bank in support of the newly established MDI Leaders Group of the University of Maine. The group was established in August 2017 when they hosted its first event in Bar Harbor, sponsored by First National Bank. Since then, the group has continued to meet twice a year.

“First National Bank continues to be a proud supporter of the University of Maine,” stated Tony McKim, President and CEO of First National Bank, and UMaine graduate, “the University of Maine provides an opportunity for our local students to fulfill their educational dreams and we are so pleased to be able to assist them in their efforts.”

One of the goals of the group is to provide scholarship assistance to students from the MDI Region attending UMaine. The gift from First National Bank will provide $20,000 toward a permanently endowed fund known as the Mount Desert Island Region Leaders Club of the University of Maine Scholarship. This gift ensures that the scholarship will go on for perpetuity and will help UMaine students from the region for generations to come.

In addition, for the next five years, First National Bank will provide annual scholarship support equaling $1,000 for the First National Bank MDI Leaders Group of the University of Maine Scholarship.  “We appreciate the bank’s investment in future UMaine students from the MDI community,” says Mills.

“First National Bank’s support has been a real game-changer for the MDI Leaders Group of the University of Maine, which we believe will further strengthen the connections between the region and the University of Maine,” according to Mills.

The gift was counted in the University of Maine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign, led by the UMaine Foundation.

UMaine holds virtual groundbreaking for $78 million Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center

UMaine holds virtual groundbreaking for $78 million Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center

April 28, 2020

Today, donors, architects, builders, alumni, friends and colleagues will celebrate the official groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Maine Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center. Due to coronavirus pandemic protocols, the previously planned in-person event is virtual and available online. Construction of the 105,000-square-foot facility will begin in May, with workers following appropriate COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

The project is expected to be completed in spring 2022. Members of the UMaine Class of 2023, who entered as first-year students in fall 2019, will complete their senior capstone projects in the center. The groundbreaking for the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (Ferland EEDC), which has been in the planning and fundraising stages since 2013, is a significant milestone, says Gov. Janet Mills.

“This is an exciting opportunity for UMaine students to learn skills in emerging fields in state-of-the-art classrooms in biomedical and mechanical engineering labs. And once we’re on the other side of this pandemic, it will be another crucial tool to help us address our workforce challenges, which is critical to the growth of our economy and our success as a state,” Mills notes in her video message for the virtual groundbreaking.

Cort family creates legacy for University of Maine students

Cort family creates legacy for University of Maine students

R-L: Rob Cort, Valerie Peer-Cort, Carol Cort, Brad Cort

The Cort family’s contribution to the University of Maine starts with a deep connection to the university itself. While a member of the Class of 1980, Rob became a well-known member of the community, serving as the President of Aroostook Hall and as a resident assistant. When he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in business, Rob joined Maine Energy, the family fuel and propane business. Rob has held many positions at the company, and is now the president of Maine Energy, Inc. He is the third generation owner of this family-run business.

In 1991, Valerie Peer-Cort graduated from the University of Maine. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in communication disorders in 1995, also from UMaine. Since then, Valerie has been serving the youth of the state of Maine as a Speech Language Pathologist in public schools, mostly located in the Downeast region of the state. Valerie credits the University of Maine with excellent preparation for a wide range of challenges faced as a Speech Language Pathologist.

Because of their love of their alma mater, Valerie and Rob started the Valerie E. Peer-Cort and Robert E. Cort Scholarship in 2018 to give aid to students in business administration and communication sciences & disorders. They are happy to be able to support current students on an ongoing basis and to ensure that more Black Bears will be able to pursue their diverse courses of study.

Brad and Carol, both 1983 UMaine chemical engineering graduates began their careers with Champion International at the Technology Center in Hamilton, Ohio and then joined CE Bauer in Springfield Ohio. Through a number of mergers and acquisitions, the company eventually became Andritz, Inc.

Carol left the pulp and paper industry after 10 years, earned her master’s degree in education, and is now teaching math and science at the high school level. Brad has held various roles at Andritz including process engineering manager, technical director and is presently director of NA sales for the paper, fiber and recycling division. Both Carol and Brad have had the opportunity to publish and present many technical papers, and Brad has been granted several U.S. patents.

When establishing the Cort/Ludwig Scholarship, Brad and Carol honored their fathers, Robert Cort and Stephen Ludwig, for their influence and encouragement. “Both of us really appreciated our UMPPF scholarships while at UMaine and wanted to provide that same opportunity to other students,” said Brad and Carol.

The dedication this family has to the University of Maine is shown with the creation of these two scholarships, which will benefit UMaine students for many years. While there are many ways to give to the University of Maine, scholarship endowments like these ensure continued support in perpetuity, and that kind of giving is invaluable to the UMaine community.

Class of 1959 reunion gifts matched by classmate

Class of 1959 reunion gifts matched by classmate

Don Cookson ’59, Blaine Moores ’59

Blaine Moores of the University of Maine class of 1959 wanted to do something special to honor the class’s landmark 60th class reunion. He decided that the best way to do this would be to not only give back to the University, but also to make an education there a reality for more Maine students. Blaine set a challenge for his classmates to increase the Class of 1959 Scholarship as much as possible by the time their 60th reunion came around. At the time, in June 2016, the principal of the scholarship was $31,777.30.

Blaine generously offered to match all gifts to the Class of 1959 Scholarship dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $50,000. Not to be outshined, Class of 1959 alumni rose to the challenge: many classmates have donated to the fund since July 1, 2016. Class of 1959 President Don Cookson has been instrumental in the fundraising effort, giving generously himself as well as supporting and encouraging his fellow class members. Thanks to the gifts from classmates and the matching gift from Blaine, the scholarship principal now exceeds $130,000.

The Class of 1959 Scholarship gives first preference to descendants of the Class of 1959 until 2030. After 2030, or if no descendants of the Class of 1959 apply, a second preference shall be given to nontraditional students who demonstrate financial need.

The Foundation offers sincere gratitude to Blaine, Don, and everyone from the class of 1959 for meeting the challenge and for their commitment to making a University of Maine education achievable for generations to come.