John McDonough, former associate dean of the University of Maine College of Engineering, spent more than 30 years here providing students with the knowledge and skills to go out into the world and be successful. With characteristic kindness and patience he also offered academic and career guidance that helped them lay the foundation for a thriving professional life.
But before retiring in June, 2007, he gave UMaine students one final gift.
Along with his wife, Claire, a former nurse and UMaine graduate, Professor McDonough provided scholarship aid to undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Engineering Technology and the School of Nursing who demonstrate excellent academic performance and exhibit outstanding personal characteristics that promise successful careers.
The decision to establish the John and Claire McDonough Scholarship Fund came easily to the couple who say they wanted to honor their careers and pay tribute to the University that has given them so much.
“It’s been a wonderful life here and I wanted to give back,” says Professor McDonough, director of the School of Engineering Technology from 1983 to 2001.
“We are both firm believers in higher education and we wanted to help somebody who’s going to go on and earn a degree,” says Claire, who received a bachelor’s degree in University Studies in 2001. She recently retired after 24 years as a nurse with the American Red Cross in Bangor.
The couple’s generous gift received a boost at Professor McDonough’s retirement party when friends, family and colleagues contributed towards the fund. They raised more than $3,000.
“It was a great addition,” Professor McDonough says.
A professional engineer, he is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education. His career took an unexpected turn in the 1970’s when he taught for two years in Afghanistan and one year in Algeria. He remembers his stint in Afghanistan — where he helped establish a college of engineering — with particular fondness.
“We loved the country and the opportunity to travel to other parts of the world,” he says. “I also enjoyed working with the local people to try and get the college up and running.”
Residents of Orono, the McDonoughs are the parents of four adult children, two of whom are UMaine graduates.
With their professional lives behind them, the couple say they look forward to traveling, golfing, gardening and spending time with their nine grandchildren.
But Professor McDonough admits that it won’t feel quite the same without UMaine in the picture.
“I’ll definitely miss everyone – the students, my colleagues, the staff,” he says.
Image Description: John and Claire McDonough