Peter Madigan ’81 reaped many rewards during his years at the University of Maine: interesting classes, attentive professors, and lots of friends and extracurricular activities to keep him busy outside of class.
But nothing compared with the life-changing semester he spent in Washington, D.C., as part of UMaine’s Congressional Internship Program, according to Madigan, who says those five months in his junior year paved the way for his successful 20-year career in government, legislative and political affairs on Capitol Hill and in the Reagan and Bush administrations.
“There was no single larger impact on the course of my life and career than that award. It totally changed my life by allowing me to use the education I received in political science and broadcasting at UMaine and affording me a unique opportunity to work with Maine’s Congressional Delegation.”
Now a partner with the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm of Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland & Stewart, Madigan has given a generous gift to the internship program to help ensure that other young people also will have an opportunity to learn first-hand how government functions and about the responsibilities that congressional offices hold.
Assisting then Sens. William Cohen and George Mitchell and Reps. Olympia Snowe and David Emery, Madigan, one of four UMaine students to be selected for the internship program, says his days were jam packed as he monitored hearings and debates, wrote press releases, delivered documents to the Capitol, conducted research, attended meetings and events, and corresponded with constituents.
“There were lots of late nights,” says Madigan who took to the Beltway immediately, reveling in the fast-paced, exciting lifestyle as well as the up close view of national politics.
He developed a close relationship with Rep. Emery, then House Republican Chief Deputy Whip, who made sure the young intern received his share of challenging opportunities including helping research a piece of legislation which ultimately became a Supreme Court case known as Goldwater vs. Carter.
Madigan says his big break came when Emery offered him a job after graduation as Floor Assistant.
“A week after I graduated from UMaine I was working with congressional leaders in a fairly high profile position.”
One thing led to another, and he soon was appointed Legislative Assistant to Budget Director David Stockman. In quick succession he served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs for Secretary James A. Baker and his Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Legislative Affairs; and then Chief of Staff to United States Trade Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick. He is vice-chairman of the International Republican Institute, chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). The IRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advances freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law.
Over the years, Madigan has been an executive and legislative branch strategist for Fortune 100 companies, non-profit organizations, and small business and foreign heads of state. He helped expand trade and business opportunities within the U.S. and abroad, reduce Congressional barriers for corporate mergers and acquisitions, and eliminate unnecessary regulations. He worked on key legislation including the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement, the Sarbanes Oxley Act, and the Internet Tax Freedom Act.
“UMaine’s Congressional Internship Program was the spark that started it all,” he says.
His gift, says Madigan, is “a way for me to give back.
“I know the kind of expenses young men and women will incur if they live in Washington and I don’t want that to be a barrier to participating in the Congressional Internship Program. They may not necessarily end up working in government or politics as I did, but they’ll be able to better understand what it takes to affect policy and legislation.”
The gift from Madigan is a “huge benefit,” says Associate Professor of Political Science Rich Powell, who directs the internship program. “We are so thankful for Mr. Madigan’s generosity. His gift will be used to enhance the experience for students by providing additional opportunities for them while they’re in Washington and by making it more affordable for them to participate.”
Over the years, UMaine’s Congressional Internship Program has continued to be a draw for students.
“There are always far more applications than positions,” Powell says.
UMaine’s internship program is unique because students are paid a monthly salary by the congressional offices themselves which helps defray the costs of living in D.C. Selected each year according to their academic records as well as personal maturity and professionalism, the young interns work hard and are given an extraordinary amount of responsibility, an indication of the reputation and success of UMaine’s program.
Powell isn’t surprised to hear about Madigan’s remarkable experience as a congressional intern. “Almost universally the students say it’s the highlight of their college careers. They learn so much about government that they don’t get in the classroom, and they almost always have direct contact with their senators and representatives. They pick up some wonderful professional skills that help them no matter what career they choose.”
And, like Madigan, many UMaine students receive job offers in Washington, D.C., based on their stellar performance as interns.
“They make a great impression,” Powell says.
Meghan Simonds ’08 certainly did. Now working as a Legislative Correspondent on military, veterans and foreign affairs issues in Sen. Susan Collins’ Washington, D.C., office, Simonds was a 2007 participant in UMaine’s Congressional Internship Program. She was assigned to Sen. Collins’ scheduling office where she supported the Senator and her two executive assistants/schedulers. Her job was to assist the schedulers in arranging the Senator’s schedule, reviewing the invitations that poured into the office each day, receiving guests and constituents for personal meetings, and attending to any errands. “It allowed me to see how precious a senator’s time is and how hard they work to try and allocate it to meet all the needs of their constituents,” Simonds says. “The best part was that it allowed me to create a personal relationship with Sen. Collins.”
Simonds also was given countless invaluable opportunities through her internship, such as watching Senate floor debate and committee work and attending congressional receptions all over the Hill. “As a result of my internship, I started learning the ins-and-outs of Congress in a way that I could never learn from reading a text book. The UMaine Congressional Internship Program is learning American politics in real life. Your campus becomes Washington, D.C.; your classroom becomes the Capitol; your teachers become Congressmen, Senators, and their staff; and your textbook becomes legislation and policy.”
Even before she graduated, the Bangor native was offered the exciting, full-time position in Washington she now holds. “I love my job,” Simonds says. “As a Legislative Correspondent, my position is all about constituent relations. I respond in writing and over the phone to constituents’ questions and concerns in the areas of military, veterans, and foreign affairs. I also support our defense team, which is responsible for committee hearing preparation as Sen. Collins is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. It’s very busy and fast-paced. Every day I learn something new about world affairs, veterans’ benefits, and how the Department of Defense works. I’ve really gotten to learn a lot about current conflicts in the Middle East, including Iraq. Thanks to UMaine’s Congressional Internship Program, I have so much knowledge and experience! Here I am at 22 with an exciting career already in the making.”
Simonds says Peter Madigan’s gift is one more reason to feel proud of being a UMaine alumna. She is grateful for “mentors like Peter who acknowledge the impact a college program made in their life, recognize that it’s also made a difference in the lives of others, and then contribute resources to make sure the program becomes even better for future students.”
“Peter is a great model and an example of how a UMaine grad can do amazing things with their life. I really look forward to giving back to the program when I’m in the same position,” says Simonds who has met Madigan and told him personally about her wonderful experience in the Congressional Internship Program.
In appreciation of his UMaine experience, Madigan has agreed to host at his office the 50th anniversary celebration of the Congressional Internship Program on March 12, 2009, during the annual UMaine Honors College visit to Washington, D.C.
He remembers with fondness his busy days at the university. “I got the full UMaine experience,” says Madigan who joined Beta Theta Pi, was elected president of the rugby team, and obtained valuable hands-on broadcast experience as co-announcer of the UMaine hockey games on the student radio station. He traveled with the team and worked alongside nationally known sports broadcaster Gary Thorne, who began his own illustrious career as a UMaine hockey announcer and business law professor.
Madigan praises his professors whom he calls excellent teachers and caring mentors. Chief among them was Political Science Professor Ken Hayes who died in 2000. Hayes, who was Madigan’s advisor, encouraged him to apply for the Congressional Internship Program. “He was well known as a fairly liberal Democrat, and we would often argue politics,” says Madigan, whose views differed greatly from those of his professor.
“The beauty of talking to Ken was that I learned early on always to listen to the other side so you know where they’re coming from and can understand what makes them tick.”
Image Description: Peter Madigan
Jon Sorenson ’86 is setting out to make the Maine Business School a household name.
He has provided a generous gift toward establishing the Dennis McConnell Professorship to draw national and international visibility and attract and retain quality faculty.
And, he has joined the Board of Advisors to help determine the overall direction of the Maine Business School and its graduate program.
“I want to give back – not just financially, but with my time, energy, and leadership,” says Sorenson, who also is a member of the University of Maine Alumni Association Board of Directors. He lives in Boxford, Mass., with his wife, Karen, and their four children, and is a partner with CES, a Portland, Maine-based energy management firm that helps institutions, industries, and commercial and manufacturing companies procure and manage their energy.
Other alumni also like the idea of establishing the Dennis McConnell Professorship to honor the former UMaine finance professor who retired in 1995 and was known for his intellect, good humor and expertise. So far, more than $200,000 has been raised thanks to Sorenson and other generous supporters. They are helping to achieve one of UMaine President Robert Kennedy’s goals of increasing the number of endowed professorships.
The Maine Business School has been widely noted for its excellent programs and faculty. U.S. News and World Report ranked it among the top 150 business programs in the country and “Eduniversal,” a Paris-based international educational consulting organization, selected it as among the top 1,000 of the world’s best business schools.
But Sorenson is determined that the MBS gain even more notability and move higher in these important national and international rankings.
“We need the professors, the resources, and the curriculum so that the Maine Business School will have the same cachet as UMaine’s engineering and forestry departments. I would like the business school to continue to grow and improve and become even more reputable. I believe it should have a stellar reputation, not just in Maine but in New England and the Northeast. There is no question that it has the potential.”
While Sorenson frequently talks UMaine up to the many alumni living in his town and in neighboring communities on the outskirts of Boston, he says lots of people aren’t aware of “all of UMaine’s positive attributes.” One way Sorenson hopes to change that is to expand the UMaine Executive Club of Boston, an alumni group which meets every few months and features UMaine representatives who talk about the exciting news and activities happening at UMaine.
Because the university is one of his company’s clients, Sorenson frequently visits the campus and knows first-hand about the groundbreaking research in which UMaine is engaged.
“I’ve had a business relationship with the university since 2003, so I have been able to become aware of the wonderful accomplishments and advancements that the university is doing. I’m impressed with forestry and engineering research, and I’m very impressed with Maine Business School Dean John Mahon and his effort to take the business school upwards to another level.”
Sorenson says he is particularly wowed by the blast-resistant modular structures developed at the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center that are used in Iraq to protect the troops from explosives. “My brother served in Iraq, and anything that can help the men and women serving our country be more safe and out of harm’s way is an extremely positive development.”
He looks back on his years at UMaine with great fondness. President of the Class of 1986, he also was president of the Student Senate and Vice President of the Student Body. He was the only student to win five major awards for outstanding student achievements in community service, leadership, student government and service to the university. In addition, he was chosen one of the 10 outstanding seniors in the Class of 1986 and was appointed to sit on the President’s Cabinet with deans, senior level administrators, and the faculty senate president. As a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Sorenson made many close friends with whom he still keeps in touch.
He is constantly struck by the huge impact UMaine has had on his life. “I really loved it here. I received a great education and I have been able to apply to the business world the many skills I learned in the classroom as well as in leadership roles — how to deal with people, speak publicly, and take projects from concept to fruition. I believe UMaine is one of the few universities that does such a great job marrying campus life and a superior education.”
Active and involved in UMaine affairs when he was a student, Sorenson now looks forward to his role as an enthusiastic alumnus.
“I’m actively engaged in learning as much as I can about UMaine and I will continue to spread the word to everyone who will listen!”
Image Description: Jon Sorenson '86
Dr. Harold “Brownie” Brown ‘61, ‘65G was principal of Hermon High School in 1967 when he was asked by Win Libbey, then dean of the University of Maine’s College of Agriculture, to join the faculty as a Cooperative Extension educator and oversee the 4-H program in Waldo County.
“At the time, I didn’t know much about Cooperative Extension or 4-H,” Brownie says. “I never knew the University of Maine had an outreach program for kids. But Win gave me a good, thorough educational presentation about 4-H and its goals.”
He took the job.
Brownie couldn’t have known that 4-H would be the beginning of a long career in youth education at UMaine. He spent the next 33 years as Cooperative Extension 4-H educator, including 17 years as the state 4-H program coordinator.
Retiring in 2000, he says he looked forward to going to work every day.
“My career here gave me the chance to work with this state and this nation’s finest young people. After I became involved with 4-H, I never worried much about the future of this country because I learned that we’ve got a ton of young men and women behind the scenes quietly doing outstanding things.”
He credits UMaine with preparing him academically and giving him a career that he truly loved. “I wouldn’t be what I am today if it wasn’t for this institution,” says Brownie, who supports the Pine Tree State 4H Club Program and the Pine Tree 4H Foundation, as well as other funds and initiatives. “I thoroughly believe that UMaine is the one, single institution that will have the greatest impact on the success and survival of our state. The biggest thing I tell people is that if they feel as I do, then it’s very important to help UMaine any way they can.”
Originally organized for agricultural education, 4-H grew out of the boys and girls clubs of the early 20th century. But 4-H has changed with the times. Today, while animal husbandry and gardening are still an important part of its curriculum, the program also focuses on helping its 30,000 young members ages 5-18 develop leadership, citizenship and life skills. “We’ve got excellent programs in economics, science and technology, as well as in business and entrepreneurship,” Brownie says. “Another big thing today is getting kids involved in volunteerism and community service.
“We’re more than cows and cooking.”
Past state president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, and recipient of a number of their achievement and distinguished service awards, Brownie was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in 2005. He currently serves as president of the University’s Pine Tree 4-H Foundation which supports 4-H activities and provides post-secondary scholarships, grants and international travel awards to young people in Maine.
He is most proud of having lead the development of Maine 4-H’s international programs which began offering exchange experiences with Costa Rica and Japan in the late 80’s and early ‘90’s.
“That was the pinnacle of my professional career,” says Brownie, who graduated from UMaine with a bachelor’s degree in 1961 and a master’s degree in 1965.
“I wanted to expose Maine kids to another piece of the world. In those days, people in Maine tended to be very parochial. Many never even went out of state. So it was a way to help broaden young people’s horizons.”
Although the Costa Rican program no longer exists, the exchange with Japan continues to flourish.
“Japanese parents feel comfortable with 4-H programs,” says Brownie. “They have always thought of 4-H families as wholesome and close knit, with many of the same qualities they value. They also like the connection with the University.”
Not only did the young people make friends, but their parents also forged close relationships, Brownie says. Many families who were involved in the exchange program still visit each other to this day.
The National 4-H Congress was another way to provide young Mainers with new experiences, says Brownie, who served for four years as chair of the annual event where outstanding 4-H members from every state gather for a five day educational program. The event provides a unique leadership opportunity that focuses on community service, career development and cultural diversity.
“The kids would stay in grand hotels with waitered meals. Sometimes there would be more silver in front of a kid than his mother had in their entire house. There were tours all over the area and the kids got a tremendous amount of experience as well as exposure to potential careers,” Brownie says.
Cooperative Extension discovered years ago that disseminating the University’s important research information was best done by the members of its youth development education program, according to Brownie.
“We’d use the 4-H kids as demonstration. Adults would say to themselves, ‘what is Junior doing to grow his calf twice as big as mine? Why did my daughter’s canned tomatoes last longer and taste better than mine? Why is the kids’ garden producing better than mine?’ That’s how Extension got adults to start utilizing the research coming from UMaine.”
Image Description: Dr. Harold "Brownie" Brown '61, '65G
CES, Inc., a full service consulting firm specializing in engineering, surveying, planning and sciences, founded by two University of Maine alumni, has pledged $100,000 to maintain and upgrade the research laboratory where environmental engineering students learn how to provide healthy water, air, and land.
Started in 1978 by Jim Parker, P.E., and Shawn Small, P.E., CES in Brewer has been involved in many projects that preserve and enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental well being of communities across the state.
The generous gift from CES and its founders will be put towards an endowment for the Boardman Hall facility which has been named the CES Environmental Chemistry Lab.
All five of the company’s shareholders are University of Maine graduates. Their expertise in civil, structural, and environmental engineering and surveying cover the full range of education offered by programs at the university. In addition, eight of the nine current members of the Board of Directors and at least half of the more than 60 employees received degrees from the flagship University.
Giving back to the University of Maine is the right thing to do, said Small and Parker, both graduates of the Class of 1970.
“We felt it was important to say thank you for the quality education we received,” said Small.
Said Parker, “I grew up Downeast as a fisherman. My successful career is a result of the education I got at UMaine. Now I can afford to help make sure the environmental chemistry lab has good quality equipment so the young people coming up can benefit. We’ve got a great company here, and we need well trained employees.”
Over the course of its 30-year history, the company has expanded service offerings and now has four offices in Maine. It continues to grow its staff and service area and to provide excellent employment opportunities within the state.
Engineering graduates from the university continue to play an integral role in CES projects.
“We like to hire UMaine graduates because they’re hard working, well trained and well prepared,” said Parker.
Praising CES’ generosity, UMaine faculty said the firm’s gift would provide the financial stability to ensure the lab will be state-of-the-art. “We need to maintain materials and instrumentation, and we need to purchase additional instrumentation required by new analytical techniques that are continually being developed,” said Aria Amirbahman, associate professor of environmental engineering.
Labs are essential to student engagement and learning, said Eric Landis, chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. “Students can see, touch, and smell how the book-based theory applies and also see the limitations of theories and what complications can arise.”
More than 30 years after they graduated, Parker and Small recall UMaine with fondness. “The university was, to me, a very big place, but I felt right at home,” said Small, who grew up in tiny Bingham.
Both he and Parker agreed their professors had been exceptional teachers.
“All of our instructors were our mentors, and there wasn’t one who wouldn’t sit down and answer your questions one-on-one,” said Small. “I had some real good moments with Otis Sproul – he was very smart. And I got the biggest kick out of Clarence Bennett’s lectures. He kept them interesting – you never knew what was going to happen.”
Parker praised his professors for “teaching us how to think like engineers. They didn’t give us answers, they showed us how to find them. Because many of them worked in the field, they brought a tremendous amount of practical experience back to class.
“And the classes weren’t just about sitting and studying,” he continued. “Our professors actually showed us what was happening. In (Professor) Bill Gorrill’s geo-technology class, for instance, he wouldn’t just bring you through the textbook. He’d take you to look at the site.”
Academics aren’t the only reason Parker values his UMaine experience.
“My best memories are the friendships I developed,” he said. “I made friends with all kinds of people. And they all became business leaders. In fact, they’re the architects and consultants I’m doing business with today!”
To find out more information about CES, Inc., visit their website at www.ces-maine.com.
Image Description: Jim Parker '70 and Shawn Small '70
An engineering and environmental consulting company co-founded by a former University of Maine student has given a financial boost to undergraduates in the School of Electrical Engineering Technology.
TRC Companies Inc. Power Delivery Group, started by Kerry Spurling who attended UMaine from 1973-1975, and Jim Mayer, has established the TRC Electrical Engineering Technology Scholarship fund, pledging to build an endowment of $100,000 while providing $5,000 per year to students with the most promising prospects for developing a career in Power Delivery Engineering.
The gift cements the strong partnership their nine year old company has forged with the EET program, according to Spurling and Mayer who said that each year they hire four to eight engineers from UMaine. Comprising at least a quarter of TRC’s 200 Maine employees, UMaine graduates have helped make TRC what it is today. They are hard workers — well trained and with a good attitude.
“A key element in the success of the Power Delivery Group has been the regular influx of young engineers from the University of Maine Electrical Engineering Technology Program,” said Spurling. “These scholarships reinforce TRC’s commitment to hiring UMaine students and increase the flow of students into TRC after graduation by raising the awareness of the company as a great place to start a long and fulfilling career in engineering. We have enjoyed excellent success in terms of their capability and work ethic. We have also experienced very low turnover with these graduates. The University in turn has recognized the value of TRC as an employer and traditionally done an excellent job at steering top students in our direction.”
Established in Augusta, Maine, in 1999 as E/PRO Engineering and Environmental Consulting, and later sold to TRC, the group has grown to 400 employees in eight offices throughout the U.S. Its relationship with UMaine is primed to become even stronger, according to Mayer, who said the company has grown nearly 20 percent each year and is projected to continue that upward spiral.
“The gift is a nice legacy for us to leave behind,” he said.
Many EET sophomores and juniors get to know TRC through summer internships, according to Mayer who called it “a great way to start a relationship with one another. Based on their feedback, they seem to find exactly what they’re looking for. They found a good company and we found good people.”
UMaine Electrical Engineering Technology students are taught applications while balancing theory. This emphasis prepares them to be productive on day one of their employment.
“TRC is an outstanding example of how consulting engineering firms contribute to Maine’s economy,” said Dana Humphrey, dean of the College of Engineering. “I am deeply appreciative of our relationship with TRC and their support for UMaine.”
Paul Villeneuve, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering Technology, said the TRC gift will have an enormous impact. “It will greatly increase the amount of scholarship money the EET program currently gives out. It also will help with recruiting efforts and be an enticement for prospective students.”
Last year, 50 percent of the EET graduating class found jobs at TRC, according to Villeneuve, who praised the company for providing good-paying jobs that enable young people to stay in Maine, raise their families, and contribute to the economy. He said TRC employees visit the campus regularly and speak to students, providing valuable information not only about their company, but also about the power delivery industry and keys for success as future engineers.
“TRC has been really great for UMaine and our program,” he said.