Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center dedication remarks — August 24

A link to the dedication ceremony is online.


Thank you, Chancellor Malloy. And welcome, all, to the University of Maine! I am thrilled to be here with you today.

I echo the Chancellor’s deep gratitude to Governors LePage and Mills, and to the Maine State Legislature, including legislators who are here today. I would also like to recognize that we are joined today by representatives from Senators Collins and King and Congressman Golden’s offices. We are so grateful for their ongoing support and partnership.

When Skowhegan natives E. James “Jim” Ferland ’64 and Eileen P. Ferland provided the $10 million naming gift for the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center, they wished to focus attention on the resources needed to improve our engineering facilities and to expand UMaine’s capacity to prepare graduates to be innovative problem-solvers. 

Their vision for the future was complemented in part by a $1 million endowed scholarship which has attracted 28 students from their hometown to pursue engineering degrees here at UMaine.

Jim is a retired power industry executive with a degree in mechanical engineering from UMaine, Class of 1964. He and Eileen have homes in Raymond, Maine and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Jim and Eileen, thank you for your commitment to UMaine, your vision for our future, and your generosity toward the Black Bear community. We are proud and honored to have the building bear your names, and to welcome your family, including Jim and Sue Ferland, Beth and Graham Luce, and grandson, Alex.

The university has been extremely fortunate in that we have five additional donations of $1 million or more to this project. I would like to thank: Dr. Denham Ward, UMaine Class of 1969, his late wife, Debbie Lipscomb, and the trustees of the Abbagadassett Foundation. Debbie also left a bequest of $1 million for scholarships for students in engineering and the Honors College. Denham’s daughter, Dr. Hannah Ward, and her husband, Sam, have a new baby — a future Black Bear, we hope!

Also present today are the trustees of the Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation: Lise Chapman, Matthew Keeney, and Sarah McCarthy, who named our biomedical engineering research suite. We are so grateful for your capital investment and scholarship support for this growing program!

Michael Papp and Wade Maynard represent UMaine’s strong corporate partnership with Pratt & Whitney. Their North Berwick plant is a major employer of our mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology graduates. I encourage you all to explore the Pratt & Whitney Tool Lab Suite as you tour the building this afternoon.

Packaging Corporation of America CEO Mark Kowlzan demonstrated his profound belief in the quality of our engineering graduates when he made a personal commitment to Dean Dana Humphrey and pledged $1 million during the University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation’s Paper Days. The PCA Commons space is so lovely, and it could not be more ideal for recruiting! 

The Harold Alfond Foundation’s gift of $5 million brought this campaign home, enabling us to break ground in April 2020, at the height of uncertainty with the pandemic.

Despite the challenges we encountered over the last two years, our timing could not have been better. Arriving at this date, construction has been consistently on schedule and on-budget!

I thank each of you, for your generosity and for your vision for UMaine students, the future of our university, and the prosperity of our state. Your gifts have been transformative. Together, we are engineering the future of Maine.

The Harold Alfond Foundation’s recent $240 million commitment and matching challenge has launched the UMS TRANSFORMS initiative, of which $75 million is designated for the Maine College of Engineering Computing and Information Science.

We are incredibly excited by the potential to improve lives through our research. The impact of what is already happening here can be seen, for example, in the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, where Dr. Habib Dagher and his team of engineering faculty, staff, and students are leading innovation in 3D printing, including in addressing Maine’s critical housing needs, through the development of green materials and sustainable production.  

I thank each of you for joining us as we mark this historic day for the University of Maine. I hope you enjoy the program today and take advantage of the opportunity to explore this beautiful building and celebrate our great R1 university and future. It is a proud day for Black Bears!