University of Maine Wabanaki Center gift to benefit student success

An anonymous donor has made a $100,000 gift to create the Wabanaki Student Development and Success Fund at the University of Maine Foundation. The fund will assist Native American students pursuing University of Maine degrees “so that they can graduate as tomorrow’s leaders of their communities.” 

John Bear Mitchell, Wabanaki Center outreach and student development coordinator, worked with the donor to establish the fund. Mitchell says the donor was inspired by another gift that supports pre-law Native American students enrolled in the University of Maine System.

“We are so very grateful for this wonderful gift,” says University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “It supports our work on diversity, and student success and retention — three of UMaine’s highest priorities. This gift also helps us with our matching gift goals as part of the recently announced Harold Alfond Foundation grant.”

The Wabanaki Center works to enhance awareness of Native Americans through its participation in campuswide efforts to promote cultural diversity, and through its significant contributions to the development of university curricula and programs. The center promotes Native American student development, and provides support for their academic, career and personal objectives.

Darren Ranco, associate professor of anthropology and chair of Native American Programs, says this gift will support students “in both big and small ways, with the aim of keeping our Native students in successful college careers, graduating, and pursuing careers to benefit their communities, the state and the region.” 

Emily Haddad, dean of the UMaine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says “gifts like this help keep a UMaine degree within reach for any Native student, preparing graduates to sustain their communities and lead rewarding lives.”

Due to the structure of the gift, some funds will be made available immediately to help students and a portion of the gift will be endowed to provide ongoing support.

Contact: Margaret Nagle,