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.

UMaine’s Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign exceeds $200 million goal

UMaine’s Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign exceeds $200 million goal

The University of Maine Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign has exceeded its $200 million goal by more than $8 million, according to UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and University of Maine Foundation President Jeffery N. Mills in announcing the successful completion of the record-setting fundraising effort.

The public phase of the campaign was announced in October 2017 with $121 million raised.

The comprehensive campaign that raised a total of $208,586,510 has four major priority areas — Fostering Student Success, Ensuring Access for All of Maine, Catalyzing Maine’s Economy, and Accelerating Discovery to Impact. Each area received significant investments.

Almost 60% of the funds raised were for student and faculty support.

Highlights include gifts supporting UMaine’s six colleges, athletics and the University of Maine Alumni Association, over 500 new scholarship funds, and major funding for the new Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center, which is under construction and expected to be open in fall 2022.

An anonymous $1 million matching gift created over $4.8 million in total new investment for scholarships and other endowment support for Maine students to attend UMaine.

Also created or established during the campaign: the Emera Astronomy Center, the Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center, the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature, the Zillman Museum of Art expansion and naming gift, the Kenneth W. Saunders and Henry W. Saunders Professorship in Engineering Leadership and Management, the Edward Sturgis Grew Earth Sciences Endowment, and the Savage Challenge Fund to support men’s ice hockey.

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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.

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.

UMaine receives $1 million pledge from Pratt & Whitney for engineering center

UMaine receives $1 million pledge from Pratt & Whitney for engineering center

A $1 million pledge from Pratt & Whitney for the E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (Ferland EEDC) was announced on Friday, Oct. 25, as part of University of Maine Homecoming Weekend by College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey and University of Maine Foundation President Jeff Mills.

Pratt & Whitney will name the center’s Machine Tool Suite, featuring more functional, updated space for mechanical engineering technology students to develop production and manufacturing skills. It will feature open workspace, computer-controlled milling machines and lathes, tool crib, applied research lab, and a computer-aided drafting/computer-aided manufacturing classroom.

“This gift will allow our mechanical engineering technology students to gain the hands-on experience that they need to be effective from day one in their careers. It is so appropriate that Pratt & Whitney named this space since they hire so many of our engineering graduates. I am deeply grateful for the strong and long-standing relationship between UMaine engineering and Pratt & Whitney,” says Dana Humphrey, dean of the College of Engineering. 

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Donors celebrating 55th UMaine Class Reunion to name engineering building

Donors celebrating 55th UMaine Class Reunion to name engineering building

Skowhegan natives E. James “Jim” Ferland and Eileen P. Ferland are the anonymous donors whose $10 million investment will help construct the Engineering Education and Design Center at the University of Maine.

The new facility will be named in honor of the couple.

The announcement was made by University of Maine Foundation president and CEO Jeffery Mills at the UMaine Alumni Association 2019 Reunion dinner Sept. 12 on campus, where Jim Ferland was celebrating his 55th class reunion.

The E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (EEDC) will house the Biomedical Engineering Program and Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as teaching laboratories for mechanical engineering technology, and provide space for all UMaine engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects.

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