Dear Black Bear Letter Winners and Honorary M’s,
It’s time to renew your annual membership in the M Club — the team behind the teams at UMaine for the last 80 years since 1932-33. We appreciate your past support and hope we can count on you again this year. For those of you who have not been active members, please join our team. Surely, acknowledging your rewarding athletic experience at Orono with your $35 annual dues has to be a bargain. Plus, you will be helping the M Club lend its support to today’s student-athletes who represent the University of Maine and your legacy.
Last year, nearly 500 letter winners and honorary inductees provided your M Club with more than $17,000 in dues income and Project Fund donations. We were able to support current student-athletes by contributing to their team banquets, special events and requests for support during the year. Additionally, the M Club Athletic Scholarship Fund at the University of Maine Foundation provides annual assistance to UM student-athletes. The M Club is a dues-driven organization whose good works can go only as far as the generosity of its dues- paying members. Your $35 dues check helps ensure this leadership role and extends an already impressive list of M Club projects.
You may not be aware that awards such as letter sweaters, blankets and letter jackets that were once given to “M” winners have disappeared over the years because of budget cutbacks. The only acknowledgement today’s Black Bears receive from the university for earning a letter is a certificate — a piece of paper. The board of directors has committed the M Club to rewarding those who win an “M” with a visible and meaningful award. We would like to do two things. First, starting with the graduating seniors in 2013, we will provide each “M” winner with a plaque that includes a traditional chenille letter and an inscribed plate with name, year and sport in which the athlete won his or her first letter. These plaques will cost about $35 apiece. Second, the board of directors will continue exploring ways we could provide our preferred method of recognition — outfitting first-time letter winners with an “M” jacket. Unfortunately, re-establishing this tradition, which has been discontinued by the university, is beyond our means at this time. Jackets cost about $125 apiece and there are roughly 100 new letter winners each year.
We believe these awards would give our “M” winners an anchor to our athletic program and the university, and would foster a spirit in our athletes-become-alums of giving back as active dues-paying members of the M Club and supporters of the university.
For those of you who have not been back on campus in the last year, upgrades to the Alfond Arena were completed last summer. The $14M renovation of the Field House and Memorial Gym are scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013. A State of Maine bond ($7 M) spearheaded by ex-Gov. John Baldacci and donations from the Alfond Family ($5.5M) and the New Balance Corp. ($5M) have made these projects possible.
We have added an exciting new feature to keep alumni “M” winners up to date with our enhanced website (http:// www.umaine.edu/mclub/). We thank Stu Haskell for permission to add the electronic version of his “The Maine Book: University of Maine Athletics 1881-2007” to our website. Upcoming on our website are all the plaques for inductees into the Black Bear Sports Hall of Fame.
This year the annual Silver and Gold Awards during homecoming weekend will include for the first time the induction of the latest class of Honorary M’s. If you are going to be on campus the weekend of October 19-21, be sure to plan on attending this breakfast event on Saturday, October 20, 8:00 a.m. at the Wells Conference Center. If you are a Gold or Silver Honoree, you will receive a notice. If you are not an honoree and would like to attend, please RSVP at 207-581-4718.
The M Club is a major supporter of UM athletics and we hope to continue to be for many years to come. The University of Maine Alumni Association continues to process your membership dues and donations as a courtesy to the M Club. Please make your checks payable to “UMAA” (not the M Club) and return them in the enclosed BLUE envelope. If you are able to give something extra to help with our awards program, please do so by indicating the amount in the PROJECT FUND line. Thank you!
Guy M. Whittten ’63 President M Club