Aiming to make it easier for University of Maine students to pursue a career in construction management, the well known Brewer building firm of Nickerson & O’Day has established a scholarship in the name of its immediate past president, John F. “Jack” Kelley III.
Kelley, who led Nickerson & O’Day for the past 25 years, helped the company establish a strong reputation for quality construction of schools, nursing homes, churches, hospitals, offices, community centers and commercial buildings throughout the state. Signature projects during his tenure include Hermon High School, Camden Public Library and UMaine’s Buchanan Alumni House.
Now, thanks to the scholarship, eligible undergraduate students can receive financial help as they earn a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management Technology and learn to oversee all aspects of civil construction projects.
Kelley, who was on hand when the scholarship was awarded for the first time in April during a ceremony at the School of Engineering Technology, says he is honored to have the scholarship in his name and that it’s crucial to help the next generation of engineers.
“We have a responsibility as practitioners to invest in the future of our industry,” says Kelley, who recently stepped down as president of Nickerson & O’Day.
Times have changed in the construction management field, he points out. It used to be that people could “learn by doing.
“Now, a formal education is basically a necessity in our industry.”
Well-known in state and national constructor organizations, he served as president of the Associated Constructors of Maine in 1987 and earned ACM’s highest individual honor, the Major Achievements in Construction Award. He was elected president of the Associated General Contractors of America in 2003 and was a founding member of the AGC of the Maine Education Foundation, which provides college scholarships to Maine construction students.
Kelley established ties with UMaine several decades ago and continues to support and advocate for the flagship university. He has served on the Construction Management Technology’s industrial advisory board for many years and was presented with the University’s Francis Crowe Award which honors outstanding contributions by alumni and others to the several disciplines of engineering. He frequently is on campus as a guest lecturer on construction ethics ” a topic that never fails to generate stimulating conversations among students. Over the years, he has hired dozens of UMaine engineering graduates.
“The University of Maine Construction Management Technology program has been very responsive to the needs of the industry,” he says. “Students who have gone through the program have a great work ethic and a commitment to excellence in their profession as well as loyalty to the State of Maine.”
The new scholarship not only will be a boon to those currently enrolled in the College of Engineering, but also will attract more students, says Dana Humphrey, interim dean.
“This is absolutely vital. We need more graduates from Construction Management Technology and from the entire College of Engineering,” he says. There’s a great demand for graduates and we need to be able to attract more students into the program. Scholarships are one way to do that.
Calling Kelley a longtime friend and supporter of the Construction Management Technology program, David Dvorak, director of the School of Engineering Technology, says he is pleased that Karl Ward and Nickerson & O’Day have chosen to honor Jack in a memorable way that directly benefits our excellent students.
Establishing the scholarship “recognizes Jack’s contribution in a lasting way to the Maine construction industry,” says Karl Ward, who recently succeeded Kelley as president of Nickerson & O’Day.
“Jack guided the company through good times and bad,” he says, noting that the hallmarks of his leadership were frugal fiscal management, conservative business strategy and “insistence on the highest level of ethical practice in construction.”
The company continues to follow Kelley’s lead and is passionate about bolstering the strength of the construction industry in Maine and supporting youth sports and education activities, according to Karl, a graduate of UMaine’s Construction Management Technology program.
“We are fiercely loyal to Maine construction,” he says. “We also believe very strongly that we need to support the University of Maine and its Construction Management program. By creating the Jack Kelley Scholarship, we will be doing just that” now and in to the future.
Image Description: Jack Kelley III