What are your feelings about philanthropy and why did you feel it was important to give to UMaine?
The University supports our community and our state in so many ways, and as employees we are all part of that process just by doing our jobs. By contributing to UMaine, we are also helping to ensure the continuation of that support.
Why are you so loyal to UMaine – what does the university mean to you?
Despite its large size and number of employees, UMaine is really a small, close-knit community, and I don’t feel that would be the case at another organization of this size. I’ve been lucky to be able to continue my education here and have always had the support of my co-workers and supervisors in whatever goals I choose to pursue, both educationally and professionally.
What would you tell other faculty/staff about why it’s important to give to UMaine?
Everything we give to the university, no matter the size or in what form, comes back to us and our friends, family and neighbors in one form or another.
How did you end up at UMaine?
I began working here in 1979. Before that I was in the customer service office in a shoe factory that was about to close, as so many of them were doing at the time. I had a young daughter to support and I felt I was very lucky to be hired by UMaine.
Why do you like your job?
I work in what I think is the best department on campus. Most of us have been in the University Relations Department for 10 or more years. We all have our areas of expertise and, most importantly, we have each other’s respect and support for what we do, which makes us want to always do our best. We get to hear about all of the good things that happen here at UMaine, not only the education of our students, but also the public service and research projects that benefit the community and the world we live in. Every day we help to get the word out about something new and exciting, and that’s pretty hard to beat!
Image Description: Carrie Ward, Administrative Associate in University Relations
When you first meet Eric Rolfson, you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised that he is UMaine’s new vice president for development. Personable, articulate, and well-dressed, he has all the characteristics we might associate with that position. But while fundraising is his career, Rolfson is also something of a Renaissance man, with interests, talents, and experiences that are surprisingly broad and varied.
For one, Rolfson is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and singer who is part of a touring band known as Old Grey Goose International. The group’s repertoire encompasses old-time dance tunes, traditional folk pieces, and regional multicultural dance music. On their international trips, Old Grey Goose combines performances with cultural exchange and teaching, mostly in developing and former Soviet countries. Most recently, they toured Israel.
Rolfson also owns a 125-acre farm in Albion, where he, his wife, Becky, and their two sons oversee a maple syrup operation. But he says his real passion on the farm is maintaining the trails he opens for hikers and cross-country skiers.
Rolfson’s love affair with Maine began when he entered Colby in 1969, after a childhood split between living in Washington, D.C., and France. (His father was well-known newsman, John Rolfson, who served as ABC’s chief White House correspondent and later as bureau chief in Paris.)
His love of the state is what fuels much of Rolfson’s commitment to raising support for UMaine.
“What I love most about the university is seeing the tremendously positive impact it has on the state of Maine,” he says. “There’s a very close link with the future of this institution and the future of the state.”
A more personal commitment to the university comes from the fact that he is the proud father of a UMaine sophomore engineering student (above photo).
Rolfson takes over right at the midpoint of the university’s $150 million comprehensive campaign. He says the campaign will go a long way toward allowing UMaine to fulfill its vision and its mission—in particular by raising scholarship support to keep the university accessible to all qualified Maine students.
Before entering fundraising, Rolfson was a cofounder and president of a Boston-based information technology company. He also worked for many years as both a high school and college teacher. Prior to coming to UMaine he was director of development at Colby and later vice president for development at Thomas College.
Image Description: John Rolfson '11 and his father, Eric Rolfson, Vice President for Development
For Karen Boucias, director of the University of Maine’s Office of International Programs, playing tour guide comes with the territory.
As part of her job overseeing the university’s international activities, Karen helps students and scholars adjust to their new lives in the U.S. and at the university by working with her staff to organize outings to popular attractions such as Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park and Freeport. She also assists faculty, staff and alumni who call with questions about trips they are planning.
Karen’s duties include supervising admissions of international undergraduates, study abroad programs, and services for international students and scholars, as well as overseeing immigration processing and advising.
“My work is interesting and it’s fun. No two days are alike,” says Karen, recalling impromptu visits from an ambassador visiting Maine on vacation and from a couple of international students who had just been married and came to the OIP first with the news.
“We really are home for many of our students and scholars,” says Karen who describes OIP as the “key international office on campus.” She and her six staff members regularly work with all departments on campus as well as with local hospitals and schools, state and federal government agencies, House of Representative and Senate offices, and embassies and organizations that bring international students and opportunities to Maine.
Karen has had a connection with the University of Maine for much of her life. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English here in 1971. After obtaining her master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky, she worked at libraries in that state and in Florida. She returned to UMaine and became a department head at Fogler Library in 1981. Five years later she became director of admissions and student services at the Graduate School where she also served as associate dean. While at the Graduate School, she became a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, because, at that time, about 80 percent of the university’s international students were graduate students. She worked with international teaching assistants and created a teaching assistant training program for the university.
In 1994, she was awarded a Fulbright grant to study the German educational system. Next year, knowing she had worked extensively with international students, then UMaine President Fred Hutchinson asked her to take on her current position.
“I enjoy my job because it brings me into contact with many different people: students, staff, faculty, alumni, people in the community, across the nation, and around the world,” she says. “I’ve had wonderful opportunities to work with international scholarship organizations by being an in-country interviewer. For 10 years I’ve been a trustee for the American University in Bulgaria which UMaine helped found after the fall of Communism. I am invited to review study abroad locations, and while I have enjoyed these opportunities personally, I am delighted that they have also given me the opportunity to talk about UMaine and our campus setting, academic programs and student life. People are always pleasantly surprised that we have more than 400 international students and scholars on campus each year – all of a sudden we are players on the teams of agencies wanting to place students.”
The success she has experienced at UMaine both as a student and an administrator is the impetus for the support that she and her husband, Professor George Jacobson, have provided over the years to a number of academic, athletic, art and scholarship funds.
“We feel strongly about the University of Maine. We both have had great careers, with opportunities both personal and professional. I got a great education here. My college years were a wonderful part of my life. They prepared me well for graduate school, and later, for a career. We are pleased to be in a position to give back, and we have selected areas to give to that are meaningful to us personally, such as the arts and athletics as well as academics. We know how much the university offers students, staff, faculty, and the community.”
International scholars help make UMaine a valuable resource, Karen says. Hailing from 75 countries in any given year, they bring different knowledge and culture with them that enrich the classroom, foster understanding and tolerance, and prepare students to successfully participate as world citizens.
“Through our international population, we get to know well people from other countries and learn other viewpoints. We have helped local hospitals when they need language translation for a patient. Many of our students volunteer in local schools to teach children about their countries. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, we had a group of UMaine students who toured the state for a year giving talks on Islam. We have specialized international groups, such as the Asian Students’ Association, that bring many off-campus people to the university for holiday celebrations. In addition, our faculty are very international, with colleagues and research collaboration in many countries. A monthly lunch program in Orono called “Women of the World that is sponsored by OIP has been a great meeting place for our own constituents as well as the spouses of area doctors, businessmen and other professionals. All of these associations make a stronger community that enriches the Orono-Bangor area.”
When U.S. students go abroad they benefit in numerous ways, according to Karen. They have a great time learning, travel to interesting places and often experience growth on a personal level as they adapt to a new environment and learn to become more resourceful and independent. Students who study abroad typically report that their experience dramatically changed their life in positive ways.
Official statistics for study abroad participation nationally have only been kept for 28 years, Karen says. “Many of us who were undergraduates prior to 1985 were not aware of study abroad programs. We had to search out opportunities or even take a year off if we wanted to travel.”
While study abroad programs have been included in the curriculum only in the last 20 years or so, The Fulbright program has been active since 1956. Karen says she is grateful for the Fulbright grant she received because it provided the opportunity to experience another country.
“My Fulbright experience was particularly interesting because it came only a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we felt and experienced much of the societal changes in Germany in addition to learning about the structural changes in the educational system.”
Because of her enthusiasm for the Fulbright program, she helped found the Maine State Chapter of the Fulbright Association in 2006. The goal of the group is to make visiting Fulbright recipients in the state feel welcome, foster international awareness and understanding through advocating increased worldwide support for Fulbright exchanges, and facilitate lifelong interaction among alumni and current participants. Currently in Maine, there are more than 400 residents who have received a Fulbright Award. These include teachers, researchers, administrators, and students.
“We use chapter activities to bring people together,” says Karen. “Last fall we had a series of dinners and this fall UMaine hosted a Fulbright Day.”
A tireless advocate of international education and exchanges, Karen works hard to encourage others to take advantage of travel opportunities.
“Passports are being prepared in less than three weeks these days and there are easy trips to take to sample another culture overseas. Within Maine we have an outstanding Balkan Women’s Choir, a steel band in Blue Hill, foreign film series, the annual Camden Conference, and of course, our own CULTUREFEST and International Dance Festival – where UMaine international students feature information, food and music from their countries.”
One of the benefits of living in Maine is that it’s not necessary to go too far to find a meaningful international experience, says Karen. Twice a year she and her husband, Dr. George Jacobson, travel to Quebec City to ski, golf and tour.
“We’re lucky it’s within easy driving distance for a quick cultural immersion,” she says.
Image Description: UMaine Professor George Jacobson and Karen '71 Boucias, Director of UMaine's Office of International Programs
Four University of Maine supporters were recognized for their philanthropy to the flagship university during the ninth annual Stillwater Society Dinner Sept. 19, 2008.
Receiving the prestigious Stillwater Presidential Award were: Hilda Hutchins McCollum, Alston D. “Pete” Correll ’66, and, the only couple to be honored with a posthumous Stillwater Presidential Award, Harold and Bibby Alfond who were represented by their family and the chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation.
Attending the event at Wells Conference Center were nearly 290 alumni, friends, faculty and staff. New members inducted into the Stillwater Society totaled 151, while 31 current members advanced to a new giving level.
Hilda Hutchins McCollum
When Hilda Hutchins McCollum was a young girl, her parents told her that it was important to give back to the community.
She took those words to heart.
Over the years, Hilda has contributed tremendous time, energy, talent and resources to many philanthropic causes, all with her signature grace and humility.
A longtime supporter of the arts and education, she has continued the legacy of her late parents, Curtis and Ruth Hutchins who helped build the Maine Center for the Arts (now the Collins Center for the Arts). As a member of the MCA Advisory Board, she enlisted support for the Friends of the Maine Center for the Arts and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, setting the stage for the popular facility to begin its current multi-million dollar capital campaign.
“The MCA has given so much to the community,” she says. “Its programs are fabulous. The quality and variety of its offerings, especially its educational outreach program, truly enrich the lives of people throughout the state.”
Hilda serves on the board of Husson College which presented her with an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree in May 2008. She has also served on the boards of the Good Samaritan Agency, the Maine Tree Foundation, the Bangor Theological Seminary, and her alma mater, Colby Sawyer College.
Passionate about working with others to achieve common goals, she was national president for Goodwill Industries Volunteer Services of America, and served on the board of Goodwill Industries of America. President Reagan appointed her to his National Commission on the Disabled, and she chaired the Board of Governance for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in Washington, D.C. Currently she is treasurer of the Columbia Lighthouse Committee.
“I enjoy volunteerism,” she says. “I enjoy people.”
Alston D. “Pete”Correll
Pete Correll ’66 has never been afraid to take on a new challenge.
“I learned early in life that if you weren’t changing, you’d fall behind,” says Pete, who retired recently from a successful 40-year-career as a highly-respected and visionary international leader in the forest products industry. Currently chairman of Atlanta Equities, a new company he founded, Pete and his wife Ada Lee Correll, a lifelong force in community development in her own right, make their home in Georgia.
Chairman emeritus of Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Pete skillfully reinvented G-P during his tenure there, transforming it into a global consumer product powerhouse. Under his leadership, the company garnered the best safety records in the industry, became a better environmental steward, and greatly expanded opportunities for women and minorities. Pete was recognized as “the manifestation of the corporate citizen leader” during the presentation of the state’s Most Respected Business Leader award by Georgia Trend Magazine in 2006.
Pete has championed innumerable social and civic causes – many of them benefitting women and minorities. “I am most proud of winning the Catalyst Award (given by the national non-profit organization of the same name) which confirmed we’d truly changed G-P from a check shirt, white male culture to becoming a leader in providing opportunities for women and minorities,” Pete said in a 2006 magazine article.
He is continually tapped to lead sensitive and challenging social-change issues, including heading the charge to change Georgia’s state flag, and spearheading a corporate fundraising campaign to restore Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. Martin Luther King’s church and the site of many of the Civil Rights Movement’s major strategy sessions and meetings.
Recently he has taken on the challenge of putting Grady Memorial Hospital – the poorest hospital in Atlanta – on a secure financial footing. Pete also is a founding director of the Georgia Research Alliance in which business, government and education work together to spur economic growth. Maine can – and should – build a similar collaboration, he says.
With master’s degrees in pulp and paper technology and chemical engineering from the University of Maine, Pete says he owes the school a debt of gratitude for laying the foundation for his success. “The University helped me at a point in my life when I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. UMaine took a chance on me.”
Harold and Dorothy “Bibby” Alfond & the Harold Alfond Foundation
If ever a couple exemplified the phrase “a life well-lived,” it would be Harold and Bibby Alfond. Filled with a beloved family and friends, the Alfonds’ remarkable lives have left a profound and enduring mark on Maine.
Married in 1943 after a courtship lasting only five weeks, Harold and Bibby were partners for 62 years until her death in 2005. With his passing in 2007, the State of Maine lost two of its most influential and revered citizens. Thankfully, their spirit lives on through their four children – Ted, Susan, Bill and Peter – and through the Harold Alfond Foundation.
The Alfonds began their life together in Maine shortly before selling the Norrwock Shoe Factory in Norridgewalk. The proceeds of the sale allowed the Alfonds to do something no one else in Maine had done at the time – start the first private family foundation to make charitable gifts to worthy organizations. A few years later the Alfonds purchased a vacant woolen mill in Dexter and founded Dexter Shoe Company. At its peak, Dexter Shoe manufactured more than 36,000 pairs of shoes daily.
The sale of Dexter Shoe to Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway in 1993 allowed Harold and Bibby to greatly accelerate their charitable contributions. Their philanthropy was as diverse as it was heart-felt, impacting people of all ages and transforming the face of many communities and educational institutions. Harold’s great love of sports and the lessons they teach us about life led to a lifelong passion for encouraging athletic programs. Harold and Bibby’s gift to UMaine to build the Harold Alfond Sports Arena, home to Black Bear Hockey, allowed the University to build a hugely successful program. When asked a few years ago what the greatest event was that he had ever attended, Harold responded unequivocally “the year Maine won the NCAA championship.”
Subsequent major gifts to the University included numerous scholarships, the Harold Alfond Sports Stadium, the Mahaney Clubhouse, expansion of the Shawn Walsh Hockey Center and support for the football program.
Today, the Harold Alfond Foundation continues Harold and Bibby’s commitment to higher education in significant and innovative ways – the most recent and comprehensive of which is to offer a scholarship to every newborn in Maine, providing the parents are willing to open a 529 plan to invest in their child’s future as well.
Image Description: Hilda Hutchins McCollum with UMaine President Robert A. Kennedy
Image Description: A. D. "Pete" Correll '66, Ada Lee Correll, and UMaine President Robert A. Kennedy
Image Description: (L-r) Joan Alfond, Greg Powell, chairman of The Harold Alfond Foundation, Susan Alfond, UMaine President Robert A. Kennedy, and William Alfond
As a University of Maine student, Charles Stanhope ‘71 always hoped to travel abroad so he could learn firsthand about other cultures and environments and better understand the connection between the world’s peoples.
The opportunity never came to pass.
Today, the Portland native has been all over the world in his position as assistant chief operating officer for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. But because he wants to make sure that other UMaine students don’t have to put off their travel plans, he has given a gift to support the Honors College Study Abroad Scholarship.
“Traveling is a blessing. It’s a very important dimension of life that enables you to have an understanding of the world and of different people, cultures and languages,” Stanhope says. “So if this helps fulfill the dreams of students who are curious about places beyond Maine, who want their horizons broadened and to be enlivened and inspired, then I’m happy to do it.”
A committed and enthusiastic alumnus, Stanhope has never forgotten his UMaine roots. He was recently elected president of the Maine State Society, a defacto alumni group which holds events nearly every month for the more than 1,800 UMaine graduates who live and work in the Washington, D.C., area. And he talks to current UMaine students about his job in the Library of Congress as part of the university’s Mentor Program which connects alumni with students interested in particular careers.
“I have always celebrated the wonderful education I got at UMaine and what it means to the state and the people,” he says.
Honors College Dean Charlie Slavin says scholarships like the one provided by Stanhope make it much easier for students to spend a year abroad. “These students have considerable travel expenses and sometimes have to forgo any employment possibilities during their time away. The scholarship will help defray some of these costs.”
Students benefit greatly from their travel experiences, Slavin says. “They not only see new places and learn different things than in the classroom, but they meet people who live in different cultures and different situations. They also meet other students from around the world who also are studying abroad. Much of learning is experiential, and these experiences for our students are excellent.”
A French major and member of the University Singers, Stanhope may not have been able to see the world when he was at UMaine, but he was able to get the stimulation he craved thanks to the Honors Program – predecessor to the Honors College which was established in 2002.
Through the Honors Program, Stanhope was able to hone his critical thinking, analytical reasoning and written and oral communication skills as he explored diverse academic areas, read many of the foundational literary and philosophical works of western culture, and participated in small, seminar-type classes where he and other motivated students engaged in thoughtful, provocative discussions led by some of UMaine’s most distinguished faculty. Aided by his mentor, French Professor Olga Wester Russell, Stanhope completed an Honors thesis, “French Realist Novels of the 17th Century.”
“Dr. Russell was a great teacher – intellectually challenging and demanding,” he says. “She made sure you examined your assumptions and could defend your conclusions – life skills that I still use today. I’m proud of what I learned and the experiences I had in the Honors Program.”
Stanhope’s ties to the Honors College were further strengthened after his class decided that was where they would dedicate their fund raising endeavors. “The Honors College is doing wonderful things,” says Stanhope, who serves as Class Secretary. “It’s an important dimension of the undergraduate experience and it helps attract wonderful students from all over to a terrific, stimulating, challenging curriculum.”
He supports the Honors College in yet another way. For a number of years, he has hosted a reception at the Library of Congress for students who participate in the Honors College’s annual visit to Washington, D.C.
“I love that the Library of Congress is connected to UMaine and I love to host the students,” says Stanhope who has worked at the Library for more than 33 years in a variety of positions. “It’s fun for me to have them understand the resources that have been amassed here over 200 years. I always try to have them meet some of my colleagues who have Maine roots and I like to show them items from our collection that have an association with Maine.”
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is the largest library in the world, with collections that comprise the world’s most comprehensive record of human creativity and knowledge. The Library of Congress houses more than 138 million items including more than 32 million catalogued books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 61 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.
Stanhope never fails to take pleasure in telling people about the Library of Congress and its staff who acquires, catalogs, preserves and makes available the collections which are housed within three buildings on Capitol Hill.
“I want Americans to understand that the national library belongs to them, that it’s their tax dollars at work. I want them to be connected to it and to know that this is the largest library in the world. I want them to celebrate what the library is as an institution of democracy and that, just like a free public education, it is one of the incredibly important valuable cornerstones of the country and of an informed electorate.”
Stanhope has achieved his long held dream of seeing the world thanks to the Library of Congress. Leading donors on trips to the great national libraries, he has travelled to Russia, France, England, and The Netherlands. Most recently he spent 12 days in the Baltic, visiting Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as well as Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
With his wanderlust quelled, Stanhope hopes, in the not too-distant future, to return to Maine to live.
“Now that I have seen so much of the world, I love Maine even more now,” he says.
Image Description: Charles Stanhope '71