University of Maine Wabanaki Center gift to benefit student success

University of Maine Wabanaki Center gift to benefit student success

An anonymous donor has made a $100,000 gift to create the Wabanaki Student Development and Success Fund at the University of Maine Foundation. The fund will assist Native American students pursuing University of Maine degrees “so that they can graduate as tomorrow’s leaders of their communities.” 

John Bear Mitchell, Wabanaki Center outreach and student development coordinator, worked with the donor to establish the fund. Mitchell says the donor was inspired by another gift that supports pre-law Native American students enrolled in the University of Maine System.

“We are so very grateful for this wonderful gift,” says University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “It supports our work on diversity, and student success and retention — three of UMaine’s highest priorities. This gift also helps us with our matching gift goals as part of the recently announced Harold Alfond Foundation grant.”

The Wabanaki Center works to enhance awareness of Native Americans through its participation in campuswide efforts to promote cultural diversity, and through its significant contributions to the development of university curricula and programs. The center promotes Native American student development, and provides support for their academic, career and personal objectives.

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L.L. Bean supports student wellness

L.L. Bean supports student wellness

L.L. Bean was present on the UMaine campus on October 5th and 6th to host outdoor wellness activities, such as meditation and yoga. These activities were socially distanced on the mall in combination with their signature pop-up store. Students and staff were taught skills to leverage outdoor activity opportunities that surround our beautiful campus as a means for managing mental health.

In addition to donating their time, L.L. Bean also made a generous $4,000 commitment to UMaine student wellness and counseling. These services are especially critical during this time of uncertainty, and will make a huge difference for members of the UMaine community.

Services offered for mental health at the University of Maine include The Counseling Center, Student Accessibility Services, and the Psychological Services Center

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.

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.