Women took center stage Oct. 29 when the Office of University Development honored the important research being done by University of Maine women scientists and celebrated the many women philanthropists who have made the university’s critical work possible.
Held at Buchanan Alumni House, the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy lunch featured five award-winning UMaine women scientists and researchers who shared their impressive work with nearly 140 alumni, supporters, and faculty and staff members. Presenters were:
Also talking about her work was clothing designer Jill McGowan ’83, who founded Jill McGowan, Inc., in Portland. In addition to outfitting presenters in her famous white shirts, she brought with her a number of items from her collection.
“We are blessed to have so many women at the university who are both gifted leaders and generous philanthropists,” said Barbara Beers ’74, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at the Office of University Development and host of the event. “From our executive staff, more than 50% of whom are women, to our volunteer Board of Visitors, now headed by a woman, UMaine has recognized the power of women as leaders.
“Women are also among UMaine’s most generous donors … putting their personal resources where their passions lie. In fact, over 700 women have made one-time gifts of $5,000 or more to UMaine.”
UMaine President Robert A. Kennedy said, “Women are making huge contributions to your university today. And not only as faculty and staff, but as gifted students as well … One of the things I am most proud of is adding women to the senior staff. In fact, today, that group is predominantly female.”
Beers thanked the sponsors of the event: the Maine Community Foundation, represented by Ellen Pope; Garrand & Company of Portland, represented by Brenda Garrand; and Deighan Associates of Bangor, represented by Jean Deighan. She also acknowledged the 23 women who served on the Host Committee and offered their support for the initiative to build greater numbers of women leaders and philanthropists at UMaine.
Also attending was Karen Baldacci, wife of Gov. John Baldacci, who earned a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from UMaine in 1983 and a master’s degree in elementary education in 2001. A number of UMaine undergraduate and graduate students were on hand as were three students from local high schools who had been invited by Kathy Allain of Owls Head, a member of the Host Committee.
Participants pronounced the event a huge success.
Ellen Pope, Vice President of the Maine Community Foundation, one of the event’s sponsors, said people came away with “a reinforced sense of the deep network of women philanthropists, a positive view of President Kennedy’s leadership and wisdom in selecting strong talented women for his administration, inspiration from the faculty presentations, and a feel for the vitality of UMaine and its development programs.”
Kathy Allain said it was obvious that the three high school girls she invited had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
“They were impressed with the whole event,” said Allain, whose husband Stanley graduated from UMaine in 1961. “The speakers had such exciting profiles and they were so gracious – they invited the girls to visit their labs and to call them with questions about UMaine. It was a wonderful opportunity to inspire three young women.”
Cindy Blodgett ’98, UMaine’s head women’s basketball coach, said she had been inspired by the presentation from Jill McGowan, who discussed her burgeoning career and the challenges she encountered as she worked her way up the ladder.
Blodgett was especially interested to hear that McGowan got her start in pattern making at the now-defunct C. F. Hathaway Shirt Factory in Waterville, where Blodgett’s mother had worked for more than 30 years.
“That spoke to me immediately,” Blodgett said. “I remember when I was young and my mom took me to tour the mill. I couldn’t believe she stood on her feet for eight hours every day. She always told me to chase after my dream and pursue the career that I wanted. I loved hearing that Jill became tremendously successful by following her passion. Each person who sat in that room during the Women in Philanthropy event has a tremendous story – they’re the ones who paved the path for me so I could chase after my dreams.”
Blodgett said she also had been impressed by Dr. Allan’s commitment to raising awareness about hazing. “Every year her staff shares information about hazing with our team. I love that she’s so proactive. After her presentation, I go back and talk about it at great length. I look at my team and I know the message doesn’t get lost. I know they understand. ”
Image Description: Women in Leadership and Philanthropy celebration
Image Description: Professor Mary Rumpho Kennedy
Image Description: Jill McGowan '83
Image Description: Barbara Beers, Senior Philanthropic Advisor
Image Description: UMaine President Robert A. Kennedy
Image Description: Jean Deighan
Image Description: (l-r) Major Gift Officer Lynda Rohman, Kathy Allain, Old Town High School student Haley Comeau
“Four years ago, University of Maine alumni Linwood and Jean White embarked on a mission to save the bright yellow lady slippers that had been growing in the backyard of their Orono home for more than 70 years. Today the rare and beautiful flowers are thriving in UMaine’s Fay Hyland Botanical Garden.
The Whites had been enjoying the lady slippers since 1990 when they moved into their Victorian-style home on Cedar Street. But when the fir trees surrounding the flowers died and had to be removed, the couple worried that, left unprotected, the lady slippers would suffer a similar fate.
So they offered some of their precious plants to UMaine’s Fay Hyland Garden, managed by their good friend Chris Campbell, a professor in the School of Biology and Ecology. They figured if anyone knew how to care for the orchids, it would be he!
“I was happy to accept,” said Professor Campbell. “I thought they’d make a good addition to the garden. Lady slippers are native to Maine, so this sort of rescue operation made a lot of sense. And, although one can never be sure about transplanting orchids, they all seem to have taken.
“Now, we’re just trying to do what we can to make sure they continue to thrive. They’re in a spot where they’re not easily seen by people who might pick them. And they have light and are in a fairly moist area. Light and moisture are essential for orchids.”
Determined to ensure their survival, Professor Campbell built a little pinecone fence around the lady slippers to ward off slugs.
“They can’t crawl over it now.”
Located on 10 acres bordering the Stillwater River, the Fay Hyland Arboretum is a living collection of woody plants native to Maine. The arboretum also includes many interesting exotic species and serves as a resource for teaching, research, and recreation.
The Whites say they are pleased that the lady slippers – an endangered species in some states – took so well to their new home. They enjoy knowing that people who may not ever have seen the elusive flower now have the perfect opportunity.
“We thought it was a good idea to give them to the university,” said Jean, who graduated from UMaine in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics. “We just wanted to share what was here.”
The flowers have special significance for Lin White since they may have been planted as long ago as 1939 by Geddes Simpson, distinguished UMaine researcher and professor emeritus of entomology, who owned the stately 1830’s house before the Whites purchased it.
“He was a good friend — I knew him for years,” said Lin, who earned a master’s degree and a CAS, both in education, from UMaine in the 1950s. He served as principal at the Asa Adams Elementary School.
Nowadays, Lin is doing what he can to preserve the remaining lady slippers in his backyard. “I planted another fir tree beside them so I’m hoping it will provide them with the type of soil they lived in before.”
Each day he makes his way down the back stairs to check on his beloved flowers.
“They’re not a pretentious thing,” he says. “They’re down there behind some stumps covered by an old green window shutter for protection.
“But they certainly are beautiful.”
Image Description: Transplanted lady slippers flourish at Fay Hyland Arboretum
The Thomas C. Sweetser, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund is growing thanks to a gift from his wife, Mildred Sweetser.
The fund, which provides financial aid to students in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, was established in 2004 to honor Sweetser, who died in April of that year. A 1950 UMaine graduate, Sweetser earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy, and spent more than 30 years with the UMaine Cooperative Extension Service as a county agricultural agent, educator, and research and development coordinator.
In April, 2009, Mrs. Sweetser decided to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her husband’s death by donating $5,000 to his scholarship fund.
“Dad would be thrilled. He loved the university and felt strongly about public education,” said Sweetser’s daughter Barbara Lovley, who graduated from the University of Maine in 1998 with a master’s degree in special education and is an adjunct professor for UMaine. After participating in the Maine Literacy Partnership Program on the UMaine campus, she earned certification as a literacy coach and now teaches UMaine graduate courses to teachers at Fort Kent Elementary School.
Her father talked often about his undergraduate years at the university, according to his daughter. “The farm” was the center of all activity for the agricultural students, he would say, referring to what is now the Page Home Farm Museum. His fondest college memory was “socializing with my fellow aggie students.” A loyal alumnus and advocate for the university, he urged his former classmates to “participate in UMaine reunions and other functions. Remember our classmates and stay in touch with each other as best we can.”
Tom Sweetser thoroughly enjoyed working as an extension agent, providing practical solutions based on university research, and answering people’s questions about gardens, farming practices, and pest management, his daughter said. He received a master’s degree in sociology from North Caroline State University in 1972 and continued at UMaine as a community research and development coordinator.
Even after he retired in 1987, he and Mildred often would spend Sunday afternoons “riding around the university and seeing what was going on,” Barbara recalled. “He was always interested in keeping up to date with UMaine. He and Mom frequently attended performances at the Maine Center for the Arts and hockey games at Alfond Arena.”
Her father was delighted when her brother enrolled at UMaine, Barbara said. Thomas Sweetser III graduated in 1979 with a degree in chemical engineering and now works at Temple-Inland in Orange, Texas. Barbara’s oldest son, Shawn Lovley, earned a mechanical engineering degree from UMaine in 1998. Another son, Seth Lovley, plans to continue at UMaine in the fall, completing his program in civil engineering.
“UMaine has become something of a family tradition,” Barbara said. “Dad would like that.”
Image Description: Thomas Sweetser, Jr. at Eagle LakeThe Thomas C. Sweetser, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund is growing thanks to a gift from his wife, Mildred Sweetser.
As a successful entrepreneur, Dennis Doyle ‘67 can attest to the excellent business education he received at the University of Maine. His classes provided him with a strong background that went a long way towards helping him launch a handful of thriving businesses. As testimony to the College of Business exposure, he is listed in the U.S. Library of Congress as the author of 65 textbooks on financial planning topics.
But Dennis, retired founder, chairman and president of Educational Training Systems, a leading provider of online training for the financial services and insurance industries, says it wasn’t only his classroom experiences that gave him the tools for a rewarding career.
A member of the Black Bear football team, Dennis says it was “on the field” that he gained valuable life skills that have stood him in good stead over the years. He names a few:
· Life is hard work and playing a sport is hard work; work hard no matter what you do.
· Remember you’re part of a team; getting along with people is essential.
· Be disciplined.
· Don’t accept mediocrity – strive constantly to improve yourself.
· Consider competition a good thing; it makes you work harder.
· Be persistent.
· Focus; don’t lose sight of your goal.
A native of Auburn, Maine, Dennis lives with his wife Patricia in Southborough, Mass. An active and loyal alumnus, he is a generous contributor to the Black Bear football program and he has helped garner support for UMaine capital campaigns. In 1996 he and his brother Joseph established the Doyle Family Athletic Scholarship fund for student athletes.
“UMaine gave me an athletic scholarship, so I want to pay back the favor,” Dennis says.
Being a Black Bear athlete was the highlight of Dennis’ years at UMaine, affording him the opportunity to make a host of close friends and many wonderful memories.
”We had a terrific bunch of guys and some great, great coaches.”
The pinnacle of his UMaine football career came in 1965 when the team was selected to participate in the Tangerine Bowl against East Carolina.
“We lost the game, but we played hard,” Dennis says. “We were there and we did our best. It was a terrific experience. The whole state supported us. There was a parade when we returned. It was a thrill for all of us guys and our coaches.”
To date, his team remains the only one from UMaine to have competed in a bowl contest.
A member of Phi Mu Delta and the Sophomore Owls honor society, Dennis was busy both on and off the football field.
“I’ve always had a warm feeling toward the university. I really enjoyed my time here. My experience was so positive that my four younger brothers and sisters all decided to come here. It became a family thing.”
Nowadays, Dennis stays busy traveling, playing golf, and managing several health and fitness clubs which he co-owns. He has kept in touch with many of his former classmates.
“Forty two years later, a dozen of us still get together every summer with our wives and kids,” he says proudly.
Each football season he follows the Black Bears and attends as many games as he can. He credits President Robert A. Kennedy, Athletic Director Blake James, Coach Jack Cosgrove, and Assistant Athletic Director for Development Patrick McBride for his renewed interest in supporting UMaine athletics.
He praises them for being wonderful advocates for UMaine.
“They are the magnet that attracted me to become more involved with the university.”
Image Description: Dennis Doyle '67
Central Maine Power has given a financial boost to students in the University of Maine’s Electrical Engineering Technology Program.
The public utility company, which has hired many UMaine graduates over the years, provided a gift and four-year pledge for annual scholarships for four or more deserving undergraduates representing all class levels from first-year to seniors. The scholarships may be renewable for four years based on satisfactory academic performance and continued enrollment in the EET program.
“Maine companies are already competing for people with degrees and experience in power engineering, and I think we’ll see new opportunities in the state’s emerging renewable energy industries,” said Sara Burns, president of Central Maine Power. “We want to help the university attract top students to the EET program, and we’re especially hopeful that these scholarships will be used to encourage young women to pursue careers in the industry.”
Six EET students have received the first Central Maine Power Electrical Engineering Technology Scholarships. They are: sophomores Jack Bruce and Tyler Harvey; juniors Ben McPheters and Patrick Buchanan; and seniors Abby Snow and Brandy Chase. Two more scholarships will be awarded to first year students. The scholarships may be renewable for four years based on satisfactory academic performance and continued enrollment in the EET program.
“These scholarships will allow us to recruit and retain students and provide a continuous source of talent,” said Paul Villeneuve, assistant professor of electrical engineering technology. Many EET students are the first in their family to attend college and these families often lack the financial capabilities to support their children’s education, he pointed out.
“Scholarships will help these students pay for a portion of their schooling.”
Judith Pearse, associate professor and coordinator of the electrical engineering technology program, called CMP’s gift “a wonderful boost.
“We’ll certainly use it to attract and retain exceptional students who can be assets on the CMP team someday,” she said. “With many changes occurring in the power industry and many people retiring, we need qualified power engineers in Maine.”
CMP Vice President of Technical Services Stephen Robinson ’80 said his company is excited about helping to support the College of Engineering and build the next generation of engineer leaders.
“UMaine is where we look first for potential hires. UMaine graduates come to us with a strong educational and technical foundation. They’re quick learners and they’re enthusiastic. “
Across the country, power engineering programs are “few and far between,” Robinson said. Many utility companies in other states must convince universities to create these programs to fill the demand.
“We at CMP feel very fortunate because UMaine has an engineering program that already boasts a strong power component,” he said.
Robinson, who handed out the scholarship awards to the six students during a recent ceremony, said it turned out to be a wonderful way for CMP to have a presence.
“It was fun for me personally as a past student of the program,” he added. “I was able to see a few old friends and make some new ones.”
Scholarship recipients said after the event that they greatly appreciated the financial shot in the arm from CMP.
“This will be very helpful,” said Jack Bruce. “I really had to struggle this year. Now I won’t have to worry so much about tuition.”
Patrick Buchanan seconded that notion. “This is a huge help to me, especially as an older student who’s on my own.”
Based in Augusta, CMP delivers more than 9 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity yearly to 600,000 retail electric customers in central and southern Maine. CMP’s 11,000-square-mile service area contains about 78 percent of Maine’s population.