University of Maine students who are employed at Fogler Library or who want a career working with children and families have received a boost thanks to two new scholarships established by Robert ’57 and Sharon ’60 Ward Fuehrer of Peacham, Vt.
The Robert and Sharon Ward Fuehrer Library Employee Scholarship Fund will provide aid for undergraduate and/or graduate students who work at Fogler Library. First preference is for students who graduated from high schools in Vermont where the couple has lived for nearly 40 years. The Robert and Sharon Ward Fuehrer Scholarship Fund will provide aid for undergraduate and/or graduate students majoring in Child Development and Family Relations or Nutrition Science who are graduates of Maine high schools. First preference is for students from Aroostook County where Sharon grew up in Limestone.
The idea is to help UMaine remain accessible and affordable, said the couple, who recalled their own struggles with finances when they were university students.
“We want to make it easier for students to stay in school,” said Bob, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering and a five-year degree in pulp and paper management. While at UMaine he received Pulp and Paper Foundation scholarships which enabled him to continue with his education.
“That certainly affected my interest in establishing scholarships.”
Sharon, who earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics education with a concentration in dietetics, food and nutrition, said her parents scrimped and saved so she could get an education. “My dad was a potato farmer,” she said. “He and my mother worked hard to send me to college.”
The scholarships established by the Fuehrers will be a boon to many UMaine students, officials said.
“Work in the library benefits both the students and the library,” said Joyce Rumery, dean of libraries. “The students make money to help fund their education and they learn more about the library which helps their education. In addition, they help the library maintain the hours and services that all of the students need.”
O.J. Logue, associate dean of student services, said, “The College of Education and Human Development is extremely grateful for the generosity of Robert and Sharon Fuehrer in creating the college’s newest fund. This gift is especially timely given the financial difficulties in funding one’s higher education.”
The University of Maine prepared them well for their careers and for life after graduation, said the Fuehrers. Bob, who worked in the pulp and paper industry for nearly 40 years, began his career at Spaulding Fibre Company’s mills in New Hampshire. He later became a partner at the consulting firm of Gorham Research in Maine, and then went on to co-found EHV Industries in St. Johnsbury, Vt., which eventually became EHV-Weidmann Industries. Now called Weidmann Electrical Technology, the company has operations throughout the world.
Although the current home economics education program at UMaine is far different than the one in which Sharon participated, she also has fond memories of her classes. “It was a really excellent program,” said Sharon, a stay-at-home mother who was a substitute home economics teacher at local schools.
“There was much more to our UMaine program it than cooking and sewing,” she said. “We learned time and home management and how to budget and be financially prudent.”
Her experience influenced the couple’s four children. “They are all knowledgeable about the economics of savings as well as being great cooks,” she said.
Bob and Sharon have supported UMaine in a variety of ways. In 1994 they established a Pulp and Paper Scholarship in memory of Bob’s uncle, George J. Muller, a self-made man who took Bob on a tour of the university while his nephew was still in high school in New York. After meeting with UMaine professors and then-President Arthur Hauck and learning about the scholarships that the Pulp and Paper Program offered, Bob knew UMaine was the place for him.
“That visit cinched the deal,” he said.
Bob said he and Sharon have come to think of the scholarships they’ve created at UMaine as a team effort. Establishing the scholarship for a student in the Pulp and Paper Program was for him, while the scholarship for a student in Child Development was for her, and the scholarship for a Fogler Library employee was for them both.
“It’s a his, hers, ours sort of approach,” Bob said.
Loyal and dedicated alumni, the Fuehrers have made it a point over the years to attend reunions and Black Bear hockey games. They have remained close to a number of former classmates.
The couple, who met when Bob was a senior and Sharon a freshman, reflect often on the fact that, had it not been for their UMaine experience, they likely never would have gotten together. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2010.
“We really are quite struck with the debt of gratitude we owe UMaine,” said Bob. “We met at UMaine and that meeting has led to a long and happy marriage. We are grateful to the university, not only for our education, but for helping us find each other and build a wonderful life with four great kids, six grandchildren and lots of happy memories.
“We’re both lucky,” he added. “We really got our money’s worth.”
Richard C. Hill, P.E.
Professor Richard C. Hill came to the University of Maine 63 years ago and the mark he has left on Maine and its preeminent university is truly indelible. Arriving here in 1946, his body of work in the field of energy has single-handedly educated generations of Maine citizens both in broad policy issues and practical industrial and residential applications. He has the distinction of being the oldest active licensed engineer in the State of Maine, and in 2000 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Maine.
Dick Hill joined the University of Maine after receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University and spending four years at the General Electric Company working on steam and gas turbine design. He was instrumental in building a superb Mechanical Engineering Department at UMaine, and also served as director of the Department of Industrial Cooperation for the last thirty years of his tenure. Retiring after 46 years of teaching and research, Professor Hill remains one of UMaine’s most highly recognized and respected emeriti faculty experts. His extensive knowledge, paired with a communication style that made even the most complex subjects understandable, has made him a highly-sought-after commentator on energy issues for decades. His fifteen years of weekly radio presentations on statewide Maine Public Radio, his consulting work with the U.S. Department of Energy, his extensive writings in newspapers and journals, and his innumerable speaking engagements around the country have brought great recognition and honor to the University.
Professor Hill’s contributions to the University of Maine are legendary. Beloved by his students, admired by his colleagues, and respected by Maine people everywhere, he remains one of UMaine’s most effective and articulate ambassadors. As the first faculty member to receive the Stillwater Presidential Award since its creation in 2001, we are honored to present this distinction to Professor Richard C. Hill.
Henry L.P. “Hank” Schmelzer, Class of 1965
Henry L.P. “Hank” Schmelzer, retired president and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation (MCF), has touched the lives of Maine citizens from Fort Kent to Kittery through his gifted leadership of one of the country’s most vibrant community foundations.
Hank became president and CEO of MCF after twenty-five years as a corporate financial executive in Boston, returning to his beloved adopted state in 2000 with his wife Cynthia Livingston. Under his leadership, the foundation’s assets grew from $78 million to almost $250 million. The number of donors more than doubled, and perhaps most importantly, grants to Maine non-profits and community organizations tripled, increasing from $5 million to $16 million per year.
His exceptional ability to forge relationships with donors, his staff, and his peers in philanthropy, both in Maine and nationally, has been recognized as one of his greatest strengths and the reason for his unprecedented success. His vision and leadership style, coupled with his warm and approachable manner, allowed the foundation to reach out to a greatly expanded sphere of philanthropists and community leaders. While at MCF, Hank was instrumental in the development of the Maine Compact for Higher Education, a statewide program involving academic, government and community leaders to increase higher education levels in Maine, among many other important initiatives.
“Hank (took) the Maine Community Foundation from a small entrepreneurial enterprise to being a major partner in community development in Maine,” notes MCF Board Chair Anne Jackson of Yarmouth. At his retirement less than a year ago, Hank, who has a B.A. in history and Political Science from UMaine and a J.D. from George Washington University, was honored with the creation of the “Schmelzer College Transitions Scholarship Fund” at MCF. The first grants from this fund were presented this fall to four non-traditional students at the University of Maine, where he serves as a distinguished member of the Board of Visitors.
The Honorable Susan M. Collins
Susan Collins has followed in the footsteps of Maine’s long line of distinguished and independent national legislators, taking our state’s reputation for producing tremendously respected and influential leaders to a new level.
Born and raised in Caribou and the daughter of two UMaine undergraduates from the Class of 1949, Senator Susan M. Collins was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. She became the first freshman Senator ever to serve as Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, leading the Subcommittee in investigating waste and fraud in government, uncovering some $26 billion in Medicare fraud in the process. Re-elected in 2002, Senator Collins became Chair of the Homeland Security Committee. Her work as Chair, coupled with her work on the Armed Services Committee, earned her renown for her expertise and dedication to protecting our nation. She now serves as the Committee’s Ranking Republican. In 2004, she coauthored the Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which represented the most sweeping changes to America’s intelligence community in 50 years. She has successfully passed legislation to improve security at seaports and chemical facilities, and to rebuild our nation’s emergency preparedness structure.
Senator Collins is widely recognized for her national reputation as a thoughtful, gifted legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues. Her focus on national security and energy independence have made her a powerful voice for the University of Maine and its critical R&D work in creating alternative energy sources and developing technologies for the Department of Defense.
Despite her ascension to the national and international political stage, and her enormous influence as one of our country’s truly independent thinkers in the Senate, Susan has never forgotten her Maine roots. We are honored to call her our U.S. Senator.