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Correll Family Gift Results in New Media Professorship

The generosity of a 1960s University of Maine alumnus has resulted in the creation of a third UMaine Correll Professorship, in New Media, to recognize and support contributions to student achievement through mentorship and a deep engagement in the teaching and learning experiences of students.

Owen Smith, UMaine professor of art history and digital art and director of the university’s MFA program in Intermedia, has been named the newly created Correll Professor in New Media for a five-year term to expire in 2016.

Smith has lectured widely in the US and Europe on art in the 20th century. His most recent book, “Fluxus: a History of an Attitude,” was published by San Diego State University Press. Smith also is a practicing artist who works in digital art and new media forms, and has exhibited in more than 60 national and international exhibitions over the last decade.

The Correll Professorship is intended to recognize outstanding contributions to the Department of New Media and the University of Maine, according to College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Jeff Hecker. The Correll Professor should exemplify the ideals of the University of Maine’s tripartite mission, excel in his or her creative and research work, be dedicated to teaching, and provide exemplary service to the department, the university, and the state of Maine.

Owen was instrumental in creating the undergraduate program in New Media and chaired the department for six years. He is an innovative thinker and creative leader. The Correll Professorship is a wonderful way of recognizing his many contributions to New Media and to UMaine,” Hecker says.

The Correll Professor will be engaged in scholarly initiatives that will have a long-term, positive impact on UMaine and the state. The professorship recognizes and supports contributions to student mentoring, advising, teaching, and learning experiences of students.

Former UMaine President Robert Kennedy created the Correll Professorship in New Media with funds from a $2 million gift in 2009 from Alston D. (Pete) and Ada Lee Correll. It makes available $15,000 annually to support the holder of the professorship. Smith will use the funds to help New Media students transfer their work to the real world and to provide them with exposure to creative thinkers who work in New Media.

The Corrells resided in Old Town, Maine, where Ada Correll taught middle school and Pete Correll completed UMaine masters degrees in chemical engineering and pulp and paper technology in 1966 and 1967. He went on to become one of the most respected paper executives in the country, and recently retired as chair and CEO of Georgia Pacific. He now heads Atlanta Equity, a Georgia-based venture capital firm that works with mid-size businesses. In 2008, the Corrells were named Philanthropists of the Year by the Atlanta chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals.

In June 2010, Susan Bennett-Armistead, assistant professor of literacy area programs and authority on early literacy and young children’s language and literacy acquisition, was named the Correll Professor of Early Literacy. Ada Correll was an enthusiastic advocate for early childhood literacy.

Earlier this summer, Krish P. Thiagarajan, professor of mechanical engineering who joined the UMaine community in August, was named the first Alston D. and Ada Lee Correll Presidential Chair in Energy. The former University of Western Australia in Perth professor is a respected researcher in the field of the hydrodynamics of floating structures, and is expected to strengthen UMaine’s leadership in the development in offshore wind and tidal power research.

Smith says he is honored and delighted to have received the appointment. He intends to use the opportunity to continue assisting New Media students to realize their innovative projects and research initiatives as well as to bring visiting researchers and scholars to UMaine to interact with them.

“I see this award as an important part of how we can grow new media in the state of Maine.” Smith says. “One specific plan I have is to use part of the funds to provide dedicated scholarships to support students conducting research at the new IMRC Center (Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center), currently being built as part of the Stewart Commons renovation, and particularly to explore the potential of commercializing their innovative ideas.”

Contact: George Manlove, (207) 581-3756

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