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.


A lifetime of investing leads to a significant legacy

A lifetime of investing leads to a significant legacy

Marguerite Picard lived a very simple life and was a very astute investor. When she passed in 2016 at the age of 100, her estate plans included significant gifts to several organizations which were meaningful to her. As a University of Maine graduate from the class of 1938 and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, UMaine held a special place in her heart. Along with support for her sorority, Miss Picard established, through her estate, a $1.8 million endowed scholarship, The Marguerite M. Picard Scholarship Fund, to benefit deserving students at her alma mater. Her education in romance languages had been important to her along with a lifelong interest in language and liberal arts and sciences.

Miss Picard was employed by the State of Maine for 34 years. When she retired she was a research analyst at the Maine Department of Manpower Affairs.

Miss Picard’s scholarship fund has become her perpetual legacy. Each year she will be fondly remembered by UMaine students who receive much-needed financial support to study, like Miss Picard, at the University of Maine. Those students will earn their degrees, many may be motivated to support future UMaine students, and the circle of education and philanthropy will continue to grow. We can only imagine how many future generations will be changed by Miss Picard’s generosity.


One hundred year legacy at UMaine

One hundred year legacy at UMaine

Dana Smith ’79, 2019


Dana Smith’s family ties to the University of Maine began 100 years ago when his maternal grandfather, Dr. John Hoge Ashworth, came to the university to teach economics and sociology.

John Ashworth earned his Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University in 1914. After graduation, Dr. Ashworth was a professor at Pennsylvania College (now known as Gettysburg College) until 1918. When he arrived at UMaine in 1919, Dr. Ashworth’s salary was $2,700. An announcement of Dr. Ashworth’s appointment read, “Dr. John H. Ashworth of Ohio Wesleyan has been appointed Professor of Economics and Sociology to succeed Dr. George Ware Stephens . . . He is a man of fine personal appearance, pleasing manners, and a most successful teacher. It is believed that the University is particularly fortunate in securing him.”

Dr. John Hoge Ashworth

Until his retirement in 1941, Dr. Ashworth served as a valued member of the university faculty. Upon hearing of Dr. Ashworth’s passing in 1966, UMaine President Hauck issued this statement: “The university learns of the death of Dr. Ashworth with deepest regret. During his long period of service to the university and the State of Maine, he was widely known and admired by hundreds of students who were in his classes. He served from 1919 until his retirement in 1941, as professor of economics. His contributions to the university and the state will be remembered, and his teaching ability and personal interest in each student have given him a place in their affections that will long remain. He had the pleasure of seeing two sons and three daughters graduate from the University of Maine.”

As noted by President Hauck, the five children of Dr. Ashworth and his wife Mabel attended the University of Maine: Jessie Ellen (Ashworth) Miller ’29, James Peery Ashworth ’30, W. Bruce Ashworth ’33, Mabelle Elizabeth (Ashworth) Smith ’37, and Barbara Rose (Ashworth) Harris ’41. Jessie earned a doctorate from Clark University in 1940, then followed in her father’s footsteps by becoming a professor of anthropology and sociology. James earned a B.A. in history at UMaine, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Scabbard & Blade, Senior Skull Society member, and R.O.T.C. Bruce enjoyed a 40-year career at Travelers Insurance Company after graduating from UMaine with a degree in mechanical engineering. Barbara earned a degree in English at UMaine, where she participated in many activities and earned praise for her high marks, making the Dean’s List many times over. Dana’s mother, Mabelle Ashworth Smith, majored in history at UMaine, where she met her future husband, Roger Smith. Mabelle participated on the All-Maine Basketball Team and the All-Maine Field Hockey Team. Roger majored in zoology, joined the Phi Eta Kappa fraternity, and played intramural basketball. They both graduated in 1937.

Mabelle (Ashworth) Smith ’37

Roger, who grew up on a farm in Aroostook County, also had strong family ties to UMaine. Two of his siblings graduated from the university. His older brother, Irving Kitchen Smith, earned a B.S. degree in education in 1934, and in agronomy in 1941. Irving participated in J.V. Football, was inducted into Kappa Phi Kappa, and joined Phi Eta Kappa. Roger’s younger sister, Mary Elizabeth Smith, graduated from UMaine with both a bachelor’s degree (1946) and master’s degree (1950) in zoology. In 1958, she graduated from Michigan State University with a D.V.M.—one of very few women to do so at that time.

These two strong UMaine families joined when Mabelle Ashworth and Roger Smith married in the summer of 1938, one year after their graduation. They raised three sons, Larry, Bruce, and Dana, on the family farm in Presque Isle.

Their youngest son, Dana Smith, carried on the family’s UMaine legacy. Dana graduated from UMaine with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 1979. During his time at UMaine, Dana was a member of Senior Skulls and participated in Senior Challenge, was a member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, served as president of the UMaine chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering, was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and participated in fundraising events to benefit the Pine Tree Society for people living with disabilities. After graduating from UMaine, Dana Smith moved to Minnesota where he met his wife Sheila. They have two sons, Eric and Darren.

Roger William Smith ’37

Although she was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Mabelle lived more than ninety years in Maine. She loved skiing, the Maine coast, playing piano, berry picking, the family camp on St. Froid Lake, and her grandchildren. Mabelle firmly believed in the importance of education. After Roger’s death, she initiated two scholarships at the University of Maine Foundation. The first was named in honor of her parents John and Mabel Ashworth. The second, the Roger W. and Mabelle Ashworth Smith Scholarship, was created in memory of Roger. Both scholarships benefit UMaine students from Aroostook County.

Dana Smith, 1970s


Dana and his brothers continue the family’s legacy by supporting the scholarship funds started by their mother. These scholarships provide substantial financial assistance to UMaine students from Aroostook County. Like the generations-deep legacy of the Ashworth/Smith families at UMaine, these two scholarship funds will continue to provide real and lasting support to UMaine students for generations to come.





 Thank you to the donors, Dana and Sheila Smith for contributing this story and for sharing their family legacy with us.


University of Maine Foundation presents awards to six alumni at 85th anniversary celebration

University of Maine Foundation presents awards to six alumni at 85th anniversary celebration

L-R: Hon. George Z. Singal ’67, Eric M. Venturini ’06, ’15G, Matthew R. McHatten ’90, Anthony F. “Tony” Paine ’96, Bruce W. Albiston ’72, Betsy MacGregor Webb CAS ’00, Ed.D. ’08 – 2019 Harris Award winners.

As part of its “Celebrating Success” 85th anniversary luncheon, the University of Maine Foundation presented one alum from each of UMaine’s colleges with the President Abram W. Harris Award. 

The award was established in 2003 by President Harris’ grandson Abram Pete” W. Harris III ’50 and his friend Marion Waterman Meyer ’51. Each award recipient demonstrates exemplary and extraordinary leadership, contributions to his or her community and/or service to UMaine — the essence of Harris’ efforts as the president of the University of Maine from 1893 to 1901. 

“These six outstanding UMaine alumni represent a sampling of the outcomes of a University of Maine education,” said Foundation President/CEO Jeffery N. Mills. “Our work in fundraising helps to ensure that a UMaine education can become a reality for more outstanding alumni. In 85 years, funds held at the Foundation have supported thousands of UMaine students with scholarships and other resources.”

Meet the awardees


Bruce W. Albiston ’72

Co-Founder, Aphasia Center of Maine and the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center 
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Bruce’s career began at Maine Oxy in 1972, and in 1983, he became owner and CEO. Maine Oxy became an employee-owned company in 2005 and six years later, Bruce completed the sale of the company to the employees. During his tenure, he founded Firesafe Equipment and the nonprofit New England School of Metalwork. In 2011, he co-founded the Aphasia Center of Maine and the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center with his wife, Annemarie. He currently serves as executive director. Bruce has served on several boards and has volunteered with many organizations.

Matthew R. McHatten ’90

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of MMG Insurance
Maine Business School

Matt received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance in 1990. Upon graduating from UMaine, he worked for KeyBank’s Commercial Lending division for 11 years. In 2001, he joined Maine Mutual Group, holding a variety of senior leadership roles. Matt has been involved with many civic organizations, including the Maine TREE Foundation, Presque Isle Rotary Club, Central Aroostook Association, and Aroostook Partnership.

Anthony F. “Tony” Paine ’96

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, HighByte 
College of Engineering

Tony is leading the design and development of HighByte’s initial software product offering. He has contributed to a variety of technical working groups, helping shape the direction of standards used within the automation industry. A strong advocate for STEM initiatives, he currently sits on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the University of Maine College of Engineering where he provides industry insight and evangelism around education in the area of technology. Tony is currently enrolled in the university’s Online MBA program and expects to complete his degree by summer 2021.

Hon. George Z. Singal ’67                

District Judge, District of Maine, United States District Court, US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge
Honors College

George graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maine and received his JD degree cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was a Felix Frankfurter Scholar. He practiced law in Bangor for 30 years. George has served as a U.S. District Court judge, District of Maine, since July 2000 and as chief judge from 2003-09. Since induction, Judge Singal has held numerous national appointments made by Chief Justices William Rehnquist and John Roberts, including the Judicial Conference’s Committees on Judicial Resources and on Codes of Conduct.

Eric M. Venturini ’06, ’15G   

Pollinator Biologist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and a Partner Biologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture
College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture

Eric works to increase awareness and capacity for pollinator conservation in New England. In this role he has spearheaded an inter-agency, collaborative, cooperative agreement to prioritize pollinator conservation across all of New England. Previously, Eric was a graduate student, then a researcher at UMaine studying pollinators and wild blueberries. His greatest joy is his wife, Julia (whom he met at Colvin Hall in 2002), and their two young children, Mariella and Teo, who keep him laughing, and who give him perspective and motivation to make positive change in their world.

Betsy MacGregor Webb CAS ’00, Ed.D. ’08

Superintendent of Schools for the Bangor School Department
College of Education and Human Development

Betsy has led the Bangor School Department since 2008. Through her leadership, the district has seen increased academic achievement with the implementation of a 10-year strategic plan emphasizing academic excellence, professional excellence, quality instructional programs and an environment for success. Throughout her career, Betsy has received numerous awards, including 2013 Maine Superintendent of the Year. She has served on the Dean’s Council for the College of Education and Human Development, and on several national, state and local boards.