UMaine Foundation receives $15.5M for two new faculty chairs in mathematics and engineering disciplines 

The University of Maine Foundation has received a partial distribution of $15.5 million from a UMaine alum to create two new senior faculty roles that will bolster engineering and mathematics instruction and research at their alma mater. 

The estate gift from this donor, who chose to remain anonymous, is the largest single gift from an individual the UMaine Foundation has ever received. With it, UMaine will recruit two new faculty chairs: one within the Maine College of Engineering and Computing and the other in mathematics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

  “This amount of support, invested in the two chair positions, will have a tremendous ripple effect through the faculty, department, college, and students as a permanent legacy,” says UMaine Foundation President/CEO Jeffery Mills. “This person cared deeply about the University of Maine, and we respect their desire to remain unnamed. We now must ensure that the donor’s wishes are carried out.”

Under the foundation’s current spending policy, this gift is estimated to provide about $500,000 annually to support both positions, or about $250,000 for each. Faculty with outstanding teaching and scholarly records will be selected. External searches will be conducted for both positions over the next couple of years.


A photo of an engineering student looking in a microscope


“Recruiting world-class talent who can produce impactful research and prepare students for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce is essential to our mission. With these new positions and this historic funding to support them, the University of Maine is well-equipped to continue as a national leader in engineering, computing and mathematics research and education,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “We are grateful to this generous alum for their gift, and to Jeff Mills and his team at the University of Maine Foundation for their hard work in facilitating the donation.” 

The Spofford Harris Kimball Chair in Mathematics is designed to improve excellence in educational opportunities and research contributions at UMaine in any advanced topic or area of mathematics. This chair is named for professor Kimball, who led the department for many years, including the time in which the donor was studying here. Kimball was an active teacher-scholar and an important contributor to the university community.

“The anonymous donor has created a remarkable opportunity for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to attract an exceptional researcher and teacher to the University of Maine. The Kimball Chair in Mathematics will be a point of pride for our college for generations to come,” says Emily Haddad, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Pioneering Innovation Chair in Engineering is designed to improve excellence in educational opportunities and research contributions at the university in any advanced topic or area selected by the Maine College of Engineering and Computing. They will provide instruction in either traditional or contemporary state-of-the-art engineering or technological subjects. 

“‘Pioneering Innovation’ means to have the knowledge and the courage to take on big societal challenges and be willing to pioneer new ways for solving problems that matter to us all,” says Giovanna Guidoboni, dean of the Maine College of Engineering and Computing. “Thanks to the trust that the donor has put in our college and our institution, the Maine College of Engineering and Computing has the privilege to champion this bold vision and to be the home of the ‘Pioneering Innovation Chair.’”  

Donors often choose estate giving as a vehicle to establish their legacy. The UMaine Foundation staff works diligently over periods of years with alumni and friends, along with their professional financial advisors and attorneys, to help them develop plans that meet their philanthropic goals. Many of UMaine’s largest gifts have been estate gifts — funding projects such as scholarships, campus maintenance and beautification, revolving loans for students pursuing advanced medical degrees and the Darling Marine Center in Walpole. 

The UMaine Foundation was established in 1934 to encourage gifts and bequests to promote academic achievement, research and intellectual pursuit at UMaine.

Contact: Monique Hashey, 207.581.5100;