August 2, 2012
Alumni Robert ’68 and Jane Weir have shown their support for the University of Maine by establishing a professorship through a bequest to the School of Forest Resources in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture. Their gift will provide faculty and student support to advance silviculture at the School of Forest Resources.
“Our gift is a way for us to give back to the University of Maine,” says Jane.
Bob, who graduated from UMaine with a bachelor’s degree in forest sciences, is a native of Fairfax, Vt. He began his college education at the University of Vermont and later transferred to UMaine. He went on to earn his master’s degree and Ph.D. in forestry at North Carolina State University.
“I was admitted to graduate school in part because they recognized the quality education I had received at UMaine,” Bob says.
As a master’s and doctoral student, Bob worked tirelessly for the North Carolina State University Industry Cooperative Tree Improvement Program. The goal was to help trees grow faster, stronger, and healthier through experiments in selective breeding. Years of research and hard work paid off when Bob rose to director of the program in 1977. He remained in that position for 23 years and also served as associate professor of forestry.
From 2004 to 2011, Bob was appointed as vice president of product development for CellFor, a Vancouver-based company that specialized in tree cloning technology.
Jane was born in Augusta and moved to New York at age 13. She returned to her home state for college and enrolled at UMaine, majoring in history. She quickly became involved in campus activities and participated in Greek life through Alpha Omicron Pi.
After Bob’s graduation, the Weirs moved to North Carolina. Jane completed her education at NC State University and opened her own yarn retail store, Great Yarns. Jane operated the store for 17 years before leaving it in trusted hands when she returned to Maine.
By far, Bob and Jane’s fondest memories of UMaine were when they met and fell in love. The soon-to-be couple lived in the same dormitory complex. Jane worked in Stoddard Hall cafeteria where the forestry majors would eat breakfast and saw Bob nearly every morning.
“I would be dragging through the line, barely awake,” Bob recalls. “And I’d see this perky, cute girl putting scrambled eggs on my plate saying, ‘Good morning! Isn’t this a great day in which to excel?’”
The Weirs returned to Maine in 2007 and settled in West Bath. They soon became involved in UMaine’s Mid-Coast Alumni Association after a chance meeting with fellow alumni Joy and Grog Johnson. After discovering that Joy, Grog and Bob graduated the same year and knew some of the same classmates, the Johnsons encouraged them to join the Alumni Association.
“We attend as many events as we can and are happy to connect with people with a common past and the same passion for UMaine as we have,” says Jane.
Since joining the Mid-Coast Alumni Chapter the Weirs have reconnected with members of the UMaine community including Provost Susan Hunter, NSFA Dean Ed Ashworth, and School of Forest Resources Director Bob Wagner. Their involvement in the University of Maine led them to make their generous donation to the School of Forest Resources.
“We wanted to give back to the place that provided us with a great foundation for life,” says Bob.
Image Description: Dr. Robert Weir and Jane Carter Weir
The University of Maine is a great place for non-traditional students, say Dr. Wayne and Wendy Waterman of Bangor, both of whom earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maine in 1992 when they were well into adulthood.
UMaine understands the specific issues relating to older non-traditional students and recognizes their diverse learning styles, experiences, and multi-faceted lives, according to Wayne, a neurosurgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center, and Wendy, a stay-at-home mom who has been teaching childbirth education and doing postpartum doula work for the past 16 years. She also is certified to teach prenatal yoga. The couple met while living in York Hall, UMaine’s residence hall for non-traditional students. Wayne graduated from the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture,while Wendy earned her degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The parents of three children, Wayne and Wendy are devoted alumni who have generously supported the University’s Annual Fund over the years.
“As successful alumni we believe in giving back to the University so others can have the opportunity to have the same wonderful experience we did and ultimately become active, engaged professionals and citizens,” says Wayne. “One of the appealing things about UMaine is that it is a major research university but still is a personal, close-knit community.”
As a young boy growing up in New Jersey, Wayne and his family would spend each Thanksgiving at the camp they built in Jefferson, Maine, near Damariscotta. He attended the University of Maine at Augusta for one year before returning to New Jersey to start his own construction company. Because the allure of Maine was still strong, he decided after five years to continue his education at the flagship campus, selling all his equipment to finance the move back to Orono. Majoring in biochemistry, he thrived at NSFA where he enjoyed his classes and his professors who, he says, presented lively lectures, found ways to connect with all their students, served as caring mentors, and allowed for an open and honest learning environment.
“I got a great science foundation thanks to the availability and diversity of the course offerings in virology and molecular biology,” says Wayne who earned a medical degree from the Midwest College of Osteopathic Medicine in Chicago and practiced medicine for several years in Philadelphia.
A natural childbirth instructor who has held numerous jobs including as a paralegal, property manager, and private investigator, Wendy spent part of her childhood near Boston and moved to Bremen, Maine, when she was 14. She enrolled at UMaine after learning about the wonderful educational opportunities from a CLAS faculty member. Majoring in psychology “because it applies so broadly to many professional fields,” Wendy says UMaine opened up a whole new world for her and Wayne.
“Our years in Orono were important to both of us. Living in York Hall with other non-traditional students enabled us to meet people who fully appreciated our educational opportunities because we all had experience in the working world. We had fun but we were committed students who valued the way UMaine initiated programs and services that improved the university experience for nontraditional students.
“The wonderful education I received at the College of Liberal Arts has had a positive impact on every aspect of my life.”
The experiences of Wayne and Wendy Waterman at UMaine have provided them with noteworthy forward momentum in both their personal and professional lives. The University is proud to have such engaged and dedicated individuals among our alumni.
The University of Maine College of Engineering named the Stephen W. Cole Concrete Laboratory during an April 26 ceremony at Boardman Hall.
Cole, a UMaine alumnus, graduated in 1968 with an associate degree in engineering technology followed by a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1972. He went on to found S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc., in Hermon, Maine, in 1979. He retired from the company in 2007.
Attending the dedication ceremony was a standing room-only crowd including UMaine President Paul Ferguson, College of Engineering (COE) faculty and staff, S.W. Engineering, Inc., employees, both past and present, members of the engineering community, and friends and family.
“This generous gift in honor of Steve Cole will help us maintain a high quality facility that is a critical piece of our program,” said Civil and Engineering Department Chair Eric Landis. “We feel it is essential for students to get a true hands-on experience, and in the case of concrete, that means getting their hands dirty. Concrete is the most-used manufactured material and it is important that civil engineering students have a good feel for how it is produced and what can go wrong when it is placed. The only way to learn that is through hands-on experience with the material.”
COE Dean Dana Humphrey applauded Cole’s leadership and his ability to help solve problems but step away once the solution was in place. He pointed out that Cole was key to establishing a two-year technical degree in civil engineering technology at Eastern Maine Community College to fulfill a need cited by area construction and engineering firms for employees with quality control and materials testing expertise. And he noted that Cole helped create the Maine Engineering Promotion Council (MEPC), a non-profit organization to advance interest among middle-school students in the engineering profession.
“The MEPC is one of the reasons that the UMaine College of Engineering has seen record enrollments,” Dean Humphrey said.
S. W. Cole President Paul Kohler said he met Cole when he took a class that Cole was teaching at UMaine. He went to work for S. W. Cole in 1985 and has been there ever since. “One thing, among many, that I have always admired about Steve is his desire to provide opportunity to young professionals,” Kohler said. “He made it fun to learn and work in this business and he always made time to listen to your opinions and views.”
Kohler also noted that the foundation laid by Cole has served the company well. “Although things have changed since Steve’s retirement, I am very confident that if he came back tomorrow he would recognize that the underlying principles he founded are still the guiding principles we operate by today,” he said.
After a standing ovation, Cole thanked those in attendance and said he was humbled by the dedication. He said he was especially proud to have his name on the firm as it continues to thrive under the new generation of ownership.
S.W. Cole, an employee-owned firm of more than 90 scientists, engineers, and technicians provides geotechnical engineering, geo-environmental consulting, and construction materials testing for projects throughout New England.
Image Description: Steve Cole
“It’s my second semester working here,” Flynn said “This is a good opportunity to get work experience, help the university, and I really enjoy talking to alumni. Pledges and credit card gifts can range from anywhere from $19.89 in honor of a person’s graduation year to as much as $1,000 or a given night. Of course, some nights are better than others.” Flynn has generated over $8,400 and 112 pledges, making her one of the programs top callers.
Funds raised during the sessions are used to help with department, college and university wide needs such scholarships, technology upgrades, student travel to conferences, laboratory equipment, textbooks for students in need, and activities.
“This program is definitely moving in the right direction when you consider that it is the first real comprehensive tele-fundraising effort by the university,” said Ullysses Tucker, Jr., Director of Annual Giving at UMaine. “I have a wonderful group of callers; plenty of energy in the room on a nightly basis and in many ways they serve as ambassadors for our institution because they are the first real contact with many of our graduates in years. It’s great listening to the conversations as the proud past connects with the bright future.”
The students also update demographic information, spread the word about campus events and activities, and more importantly, secure support to offset diminishing funds from the state. In only fourteen weeks of calling (the program runs from September-April when classes are in session), the students have generated nearly $160,000 ($41, 000 in credit cards gifts) and over 2500 pledges.
While Flynn is excited about obtaining donations, she takes a practical approach to her work.
“This job experience has definitely helped me academically and socially,” she said. “I’ve learned to talk with a variety of people, and now when I have to make a presentation for class or when I graduate and have to be in front of people, I will have more confidence in my speaking ability and communication skills.
“I’ve also learned how important support is to UMaine,” Flynn added. It’s encouraging to talk with people who have been through the same thing, and who now are in a position to – and want to – give back. Someday, I hope to be able to do that myself and help students.”
Image Description: Kaitlin Flynn