Dan Willett ’69, ’70G in the Foster Board Room, Buchanan Alumni House
As Associate Director of Planned Giving, Dan Willett has helped hundreds of UMaine alumni and friends set up planned gifts through the University of Maine Foundation. He is highly visible as a leader in the southern Maine business community as a result of his service on the board of Gorham Savings Bank, attendance at Eggs and Issues breakfasts, and other forms of community involvement. A UMaine alumnus, Dan is often seen cheering on the Black Bears and attending Reunion, Homecoming and Southern Maine Executive Club (SMECUM) events. He has also been an active volunteer for his class and on the University of Maine Alumni Association’s board and the Alumni Board of
While many donors turn to Dan for help with their giving, they may not be aware that he has distinguished himself as a generous philanthropist. Dan has made gifts to UMaine for more than 40 consecutive years. His most recent gift to the University of Maine Foundation was a charitable gift annuity to increase the scholarship support for undergraduates through the Willett Family Fund. Dan is not the only one in his family working on behalf of his alma mater; other relatives including both parents, have
also worked for the university. Together, Dan’s relatives represent 125 years of service
Dan is one of 221 donors who have earned the “Triple Crown” of support through their significant annual, major and planned gifts. Holders of the Triple Crown are members of the President’s Club, Stillwater Society, and Charles F. Allen Legacy Society.
“The university has been good to me and my family,” Dan says. “I grew up in Orono and started working on campus as a kid. I also had a great experience here as a student. Deans (Stan) Devino, (Joseph) Murray and (John) Stewart had a big influence on me.”
Dan is committed to ensuring that UMaine students have the financial support that they need for an optimal experience.
“I think it’s really important that our students have an opportunity to live on campus and connect with their classmates. I missed out because I couldn’t afford it.”
“Dan has been instrumental to our office in Falmouth and the university’s overall presence in southern Maine,” says Jeffery N. Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation. “He is also among our most loyal and sophisticated donors. Dan understands that the charitable gift annuity will benefit his alma mater, while providing him with a tax advantage and lifetime income. It’s a win/win situation and we are most grateful for
Professors Emeriti Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson share many stories through the unique intersection of their personal and professional lives. Married since 1979, both taught communication courses at the University of Maine from 1980 until their retirement in 2016. Langellier’s scholarship and teaching encompassed performance studies and narrative communication; Peterson focused on media consumption, critical and cultural communication studies, and qualitative research methods.
Interdisciplinary awareness marks both careers. Langellier’s career includes contributions to Women’s and Gender Studies, Franco American Studies, and the interdisciplinary, community-based collaborative Somali Narrative Project. Peterson’s scholarship draws upon traditions in the human sciences to examine communication phenomena that range from popular culture and identity politics to pedagogy and classroom communication.
Both Peterson and Langellier have strong memories of their early days at UMaine. Kristin notes, “We had very good support from our department. I have a distinct memory of being mentored.” She is quick to recognize the late Dwayne VanRheenen, who served as department chair during their formative years in Orono. Describing their mentor’s emphasis on community rather than individualism within academe they both note, “Dwayne always came from the ‘we’ rather than the ‘I’ and emphasized what each of us could contribute to our department.”
Given the breadth of their interests, it is no surprise that both share a deep interest in storytelling, as demonstrated in the book they co-authored in 2004, “Storytelling in Daily Life.” Langellier is quick to point out that stories have long had an important role in her life, dating back to her childhood as one of ten siblings. “To listen to a story is a gift; to tell a story is a gift,” Langellier said. “It makes people present to each other.”
In their retirement, the couple enjoys traveling to Brunswick every Friday to spend time with their grandson, Jack. Not surprisingly, they are working on an album of photographs and stories for him.
Philanthropy is another common theme in their lives. Peterson and Langellier have supported Women’s Basketball, the Honors College, the Schonberger Peace and Social Justice Lecture, and the Orono Bog Boardwalk. Peterson explains, “The university has been our center and our community. Most of the funds we support are an extension of our teaching and research.” Women’s basketball, he notes, is naturally of interest to two Midwesterners.
As is often the case, colleagues, friends, and former students have also contributed to the Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson Scholarship Fund that will benefit junior and senior Communication majors with a GPA of at least 3.0 and demonstrated financial need. One of the donors is Zornitsa Dimova Keremidchieva ’99G, ’01G, who has two master’s degrees from the University of Maine: one in English with a concentration in Composition, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy and a second one in Communication Studies. Originally from Bulgaria, Keremidchieva describes Peterson and Langellier as “among the most careful and thoughtful scholars I have ever worked with,” who taught her an “ethos of caring” while providing her with a map of the field and a compass that continue to serve her every day. Keremidchieva will soon begin a tenure-track position at the University of Minnesota, where she looks forward to “paying it forward” by mentoring her own students. Wistful about her formative experience at UMaine, she is quick to add, “I will never be able to give back enough. My debt (to faculty members like Langellier and Peterson) is bigger than can ever be repaid.”
Photo: Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson c. 1991
Make a gift to the Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson Scholarship Fund
Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Richard C. Hill, who passed away in July, left an indelible mark on the University of Maine. His work as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dean of the College of Technology and Director of the Department of Industrial Cooperation spanned from 1946 until his retirement in 1992. Even after his retirement, he remained one of UMaine’s most highly recognized and respected emeriti faculty experts because of his extensive knowledge and a communication style that made even the most complex subjects understandable. His writings and speaking engagements around the country brought great recognition and honor to UMaine.
“Many times donors do not realize the broad array of charitable giving mechanisms which can be implemented to achieve their goals. We were very happy to help Dick and Libby with their objectives.”
— Jeff Mills, President/CEO
Professor Hill’s contributions to UMaine are legendary. Beloved by his students, admired by his colleagues and respected by Maine people everywhere, Dick was the first faculty member to receive the Stillwater Presidential Award. His legacy not only includes his body of work in the field of energy, but also endowments that will support programs in perpetuity that Dick and his wife, Elizabeth (“Libby”), cared about across campus. The Collins Center for the Arts, the College of Engineering, the Honors College, the Division of Music of the University of Maine’s School of Performing Arts, the Department of Industrial Cooperation and the Professor Michael H. Lewis Art Scholarship all benefit from Dick’s and Elizabeth’s generosity.
Dick recognized a good idea when he saw one. Back in 1989, he and Libby were wondering what to do with a mutual fund account and looking for a way to help their grandchildren with their college educations. Their attorney suggested that they consider a charitable trust. Dick and Libby placed the account in a charitable remainder trust with a 20-year term and were able to take an immediate income tax charitable deduction.
During those 20 years, the trust income helped their grandchildren pay for their college educations. They attended schools all over the country to study to be a physician’s assistant, a medical doctor, a physical therapist, a teacher, an economist and an engineer. They are incredibly grateful to their grandparents for investing in their futures.
In 2009, at the end of the trust term, the trust’s remainder came to the University of Maine Foundation to be endowed to help the programs Dick and Libby cared about. As a former dean, Dick knew how vital unrestricted support could be to those programs.
Not only can they help grandchildren, but charitable remainder trusts can also provide security, minimize taxes, preserve assets, and ultimately fulfill philanthropic goals. The Foundation would be happy to explore with you and your advisors the possible benefits of including a charitable trust in your financial and estate plans. We welcome the opportunity to be of help.