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UMaine Senior Eddie Gonnella

UMaine Senior Eddie Gonnella is Engineering His Career

When this month’s Dirigo Award recipient, Eddie Gonnella, departed for college in 2013, he didn’t journey very far—just a five-minute drive from his home in Old Town.

But following his graduation from UMaine on May 13th, long-distance travel will be a regular occurrence for him as he takes on an unexpected opportunity, one he earned as a result of his co-curricular involvement on and off campus.

Gonnella, a member of the UMaine chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity (“SigEp,” as it is known), has been selected by the organization’s national office for a one-year paid position as a regional director. In that role, he will advise and mentor members at 15-20 of the 242 SigEp chapters located throughout the U.S.

For the civil engineering major, his selection presents a unique opportunity.

“The chance to serve SigEp in improving other chapters, to represent UMaine on a national level, to get paid to travel the country, and the opportunity to grow my relationship with SigEp and get to know so many other people was impossible to pass up,” Gonnella explained.

As Gonnella understands, not all students are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority. (At UMaine, 14% of undergraduate students belong to a Greek organization.) But he believes there is a student group on campus for everyone. For him, SigEp has defined his time at the university, and it’s been a life-changing experience.

“When I joined SigEp, my strengths and weaknesses were put to the test,” he recalled. “My ability to interact with other people was challenged and leadership opportunities were endless. I grew, learned, and experienced so much due to these aspects of SigEp and it really provided me with the avenue to develop into who I am today compared to who I was when I first arrived at UMaine.”

Gonnella cites several examples: earning Dean’s List status in one of UMaine’s most challenging academic majors; being a finalist in the UMaine business challenge; traveling on SigEp’s 10-day leadership development Tragos Quest to Greece; student leadership roles on campus; and civic and community involvement as a volunteer and youth sports coach. His contributions have not gone unnoticed.

“There are not enough Eddie Gonnellas on this earth,” stated UMaine junior Zachary Goulette, an electrical engineering major. “Eddie is a leader who over and over again gives selflessly of his time, talents, and effort.”

“A few words I would use to describe Eddie are devoted, trustworthy, philanthropic, focused, driven, and scholarly,” added Joshua Stanhope ’13, ’16G, UMaine’s assistant director of campus activities and student engagement.

Gonnella says he is not sure what path he will take after finishing his one-year appointment with his national fraternity. Possibilities include taking an engineering job in Maine, grad school, more travel, or yet another unanticipated opportunity. No matter what, he says he is ready.

“I feel as though my experience at UMaine has helped me develop a wide variety of skills and interests,” he shared. That experience has “opened doors for me and set me up for success in the future.”

UMaine Alumni Dirigo Award

The UMaine Alumni Association’s Dirigo Award, granted with support from University Credit Union, recognizes an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine.

UMaine Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award Recipient Professor Douglas Allen

Professor Allen, Mentor and Activist

Philosophy Professor Douglas M. Allen never planned on making Maine his home. Decades ago, after being fired from Southern Illinois University (SIU) for his Vietnam/Indochina antiwar activism, Allen joined the faculty of the University of Maine in 1974. Although he had the support of SIU faculty and students, won a lawsuit against SIU, and was offered his job back, he decided to stay at UMaine.

Twenty-five years later, in 2000, Allen received UMaine’s highest faculty honor, the Distinguished Maine Professor Award, a recognition based on outstanding performance through teaching, scholarship, and service to the public.

The importance and practice of activism—social, political, and economic—has long been part of Allen’s academic and personal focus.

During his first year at UMaine Allen helped found the Maine Peace Action Committee. He played an instrumental role in the movement that resulted in UMaine’s divestment of nearly $3 million from corporations and banks that did business in apartheid South Africa. In 1982, UMaine became one of the first 10 universities in the U.S. to agree to complete divestment.

“When we won that, we couldn’t believe it,” Allen explained, “because when you’re involved in these big struggles for peace and justice, you usually don’t win.” When asked about his favorite memory at UMaine, Allen recalls a big celebration in the Memorial Union after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. “That was a big moment on this campus,” Allen said. At about that time, Allen was part of a small group of anti-apartheid activists who met with Nelson Mandela in New York.

Allen has a strong reputation among current students and alumni as a teacher and mentor, roles that he enjoys. “Most of the students here are down to earth, and I enjoy having them in the classroom,” Allen said. “A lot of them are appreciative of the opportunity to have an education, and you can see their progress.”

One of the many UMaine alumni Allen remains in touch with is Ashok Jhunjhunwala (’77 G, ’79 Ph.D.), a nationally prominent professor of electrical engineering and telecommunications at India Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and the 2009 recipient of the UMaine Alumni Association’s Bernard Lown Humanitarian Award. Although Jhunjhunwala was not enrolled in Allen’s lectures, he sat in on many of them, eager to learn more about philosophy.

“We had incredible discussion groups with him; he’s got good values,” Allen said. Allen spent his 2015-2016 sabbatical at IIT Madras, where Jhunjhunwala is widely considered the best-known and most influential engineering scientist.

Throughout his 43 years of teaching at UMaine, Allen has witnessed many changes on campus. Shortly before he joined the UMaine faculty, there were dorm curfews for female students, and college dances had to have adult chaperones.

“It was a different world,” Allen said. “We’ve moved in a much more positive direction at this university, but we’ve given up some things too, such as a deeper sense of community.”

Allen’s advice to young faculty reflects his passion for activism and advocacy.

“Don’t be dominated by the stress of fear and uncertainty,” he tells them. “There are always people who have power over your life and your future. It is horrible to allow that to control how you teach, do research, or live your life. You have more freedom to live consistent with your values than you often think you have.”

—Aliya Uteuova ’18

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.

Sam Borer 2017 UMaine Alumni Dirigo Award Recipient

Sam Borer Never Wastes a Moment

Spend five minutes with UMaine junior Sam Borer and you will quickly realize that Borer has little time to waste.

Borer is a physics and mathematics major who is minoring in astronomy and statistics. He’s also enrolled in the Honors College. He serves as UMaine’s undergraduate student body representative to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees and is a student representative on UMaine’s Provost’s Council. Borer also serves as president of Sigma Pi Sigma Honors Society and belongs to the Society of Physics Students.

Apparently all of those responsibilities still leave time for other activities. Borer is a photographer for UMaine’s Department of Marketing and Communications, conducts research for the Fermi National Acceleratory Laboratory in Illinois, is a peer instructor in physics, and serves in the Maine Air National Guard as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergency management specialist. He also volunteers as a victim’s advocate for UMaine’s Rape Response Services and for the Department of Defense.


“Anyone can make the time to do what they want to do,” Borer said. “When you do something you really, really love, motivation naturally comes.”

Borer lived his many places before arriving in Orono, spending his early childhood in England and eventually graduating from high school in Minnesota. He has always had a wide-ranging fascination with learning, something he approaches tirelessly.

In fact, Borer credits one of his many interests—dance—for helping him develop self-discipline and stamina needed for his rigorous studies and lifestyle. Borer originally intended to pursue a professional dance and choreography career after graduating high school. However, injuries he sustained in a serious car accident forced him to change his plans—and influenced his decision to move to Maine for college. Borer applied to UMaine because his twin sister applied here. ‘I almost just randomly picked UMaine,” Borer said.

“I probably never would’ve gone to UMaine,” Borer said. “Now I am so engrained in this institution, coming here was the best decision.”

Borer feels that UMaine is small enough to feel homey but large enough for anyone to find a niche for themselves. He also appreciates UMaine’s faculty and staff, crediting them for helping him grow as a student and an individual.

Borer has his sights set on medical school after completing his UMaine degree in May 2018. However, he first plans to travel the world. His first destinations: Morocco and Switzerland, two countries as diverse in their nature as the fields of choreography and medicine. Given Borer’s wide range of interests, that’s no surprise.

—Aliya Uteuova ’18

UMaine Alumni Dirigo AwardEach month the UMaine Alumni Association, with support from
University Credit Union, recognizes an outstanding UMaine student
whose leadership on campus and in the classroom are making a difference.

UMaine Today Story Features Maine Track Program Graduates

Tufts program fast-tracks UMaine’s top pre-med students to meet critical needs

As the sun peaked over the Atlantic Ocean in winter 2016, India Stewart walked into Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine. By noon, the then-third-year student at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) had participated in several surgeries, including a bilateral mastectomy, a below-the-knee amputation and a cystectomy for bladder cancer.

In the afternoon, the 2013 University of Maine graduate was in the OB/GYN clinic, performing physical exams, providing prenatal care and counseling patients on sexual health.

It was all par for the course during Stewart’s nine-month TUSM Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) wherein she cared for patients in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery settings with discipline-specific physicians.


For Karlee Price, UMaine Means Opportunities–Lots of Them!

price_122016Four years ago, Winslow, Maine native Karlee Price gave the University of Maine a chance. Four years later and about to graduate, she has no regrets.

“I thought I wanted to leave the state (for college), but once it came down to it, I knew I wanted to come to UMaine because it had everything I wanted,” Price said of her decision-making process. “My family has all come here, and I knew they all had great experiences.” In fact, Price is a third-generation Black Bear.

Following her family’s lead, Price not only excelled in academics, but also became an active member of the UMaine community. She is president of Panhellenic Council, a member of Alpha Phi sorority, and a captain of UMaine’s Dance Team.

“I love getting to represent UMaine when I’m in my uniform,” Price said. She shared that one of her favorite on-campus events is Homecoming. During that weekend, Price performed at President Hunter’s house, where she had a chance to demonstrate UMaine spirit to visiting alumni and guests.

Like many students, Price went through a stage of being unsure about her major before choosing Communication Sciences and Disorders. However, the opportunity to do research introduced Price to various possibilities in her field. For the past three years, Price has been working with a team of graduate students on a speech therapy telepractice program led by Dr. Judy P. Walker.

Telepractice provides interactive speech therapy services to children and adults with communication disorders in rural parts of Maine.

Price’s career interest lies in working with aphasia patients. Typically caused by a stroke, aphasia is a disruption in one’s ability to communicate. Price is driven to help others and believes that there’s a great need for speech pathologists. Upon graduation, Price plans to attend graduate school and UMaine is her top choice.

Advice that Price would give to UMaine students is that it is never too late to get involved.

“Even if you are a senior, join a new club, try out as much as you can, see what really sparks your interest, and don’t be afraid.”

—Aliya Uteuova ’18

UMaine Alumni Dirigo Award

Each month the UMaine Alumni Association, with support from
University Credit Union, recognizes an outstanding UMaine student
whose leadership on campus and in the classroom are making a difference.

UMaine Professor Per Garder

UMaine Engineering Professor Per Gårder Focused on Safety

People tell UMaine Engineering Professor Per Gårder that he’s a life-saver. For good reason.

In 1992, along with UMaine colleague Dr. John Alexander, Gårder began the first academic research in the United States on the effectiveness of rumble strips, those corrugated sections of roadway that create loud noise and vibration when a vehicle’s tires cross over them. Rumble strips along the sides and middle of roadways help get the attention of inattentive or drowsy drivers, often preventing highway accidents and fatalities.

Thanks in large part to Gårder and Alexander’s research, the first rumble strips in Maine were installed in 1994. And they have made a difference.

“I meet people who say they are alive thanks to being woken up because of rumble strips,” Gårder said.

Since joining UMaine in 1992 as a faculty member, Gårder has been on the frontline of breakthrough research, contributing to numerous firsts in the civil engineering field. Born in Risekatslösa, Sweden, Gårder knew in high school he wanted to study civil engineering. He received both his master’s degree and Ph.D. at Sweden’s Lund University. Consistently ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, Lund is among the oldest and largest universities in northern Europe.

Dr. Gårder’s research interest is focused on transportation safety. Since 1975, Gårder has worked on designing modern and safe roundabouts (i.e., traffic circles that are sometimes called “rotaries” in Maine and elsewhere). Gårder studied the effectiveness of roundabouts, and eagerly advocated for the construction of more roundabouts across the U.S. (Coincidentally, one of his former UMaine students, Jonathan French ‘02, is the lead design engineer for a roundabout that the Maine Department of Transportation will be constructing at the southeast entrance to the UMaine campus. It’s intended to improve traffic flow and safety at the intersection of UMaine’s Rangeley Road and U.S. Route 2.)

Of the many reasons Gårder enjoys his faculty position at UMaine, his students are foremost. “We have smart and respectful students who are willing and wanting to learn,” Gårder offered. His advice to UMaine students would be to learn a new language.

“We live in a world that is increasingly international,” Gårder said. “In the long term, we will be one world where we will have to understand how to work with people from other nations.”

—Aliya Uteuova ’18

Each month the UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, recognizes an outstanding faculty member who is contributing to UMaine’s national reputation for academic excellence. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans.

Engineers Without Borders Helping Develop Water Supply System in Ecuador

This December, members of the University of Maine student group Engineers Without Borders will embark on a second assessment trip to the community of El Descanso, Ecuador. The trip is intended to lay the groundwork for the development of a sustainable water supply system.

In May 2016, four EWB-UMaine students completed an initial visit to the 120-person community. Much of El Descanso consists of subsistence farmers who are food rich, but economically impoverished and often lacking in water supply.
The main goal of the project is to obtain a clean, year-round water supply, which would help improve the health and economic situation of El Descanso citizens.
During the previous assessment trip, the team investigated additional sources for water collection. From Dec. 16 through Jan. 11, four students and one mentor will travel to El Descanso. The trip falls during the dry season and will hopefully yield quantifiable data as to which sources can effectively sustain the community.
EWB-UMaine’s first project spanned five years and was completed in 2013. It resulted in the implementation of a septic system for a community in Dulce Vivir, Honduras.
To learn more about EWB-UMaine and their projects, visit the group’s website or attend one of their meetings at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in the Foster Center for Student Innovation. For more information, visit


Meet Brady Davis ’17, this month’s Dirigo Award Recipient

UMaine’s Davis Thinks About Food–A Lot

Brady Davis, Business Management major at UMaineBrady Davis, a senior Business Management major, says the opportunity to participate in UMaine’s Honors College sold him on enrolling at UMaine. He’s turned that decision into a variety of learning and social experiences that will help him advance issues related to food and economic sustainability.

A native of Freeport, Maine, Davis visited a number of college campuses before deciding where to enroll. While in Orono, he visited the university’s Maine Business School (MBS) and met with faculty members. Davis also observed Honors preceptorials (facilitated small-group discussions). He says the Honors College’s small classes and student-led discussions drew him to UMaine and to joining the Honors College.

“I gained a much greater appreciation for diversity in the Honors program, both in the curriculum and in the various backgrounds of students in class,” Davis said of his college visit. “I never got that sense of comfort and homey feel [elsewhere] that I got at UMaine.”

Davis is making the most of his UMaine experience. He is a fellow at the Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative (SFSRC), an initiative of the Honors College funded by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. This past summer, Davis worked with Afton Hupper ’17 on researching and summarizing scholarly articles on food hubs. Davis recently attended a National Collegiate Honors Council Conference (NCHC) in Seattle. The annual conference attracts nearly 2,000 administrators, staff, faculty, and students involved in Honors programs and colleges around the world. Davis co-presented a poster titled “Community Food Hub: A Business Model to Fight Hunger,” and co-led a roundtable discussion titled “Opportunities and Challenges: Integrating Honors College Student Leadership with Student Government.”

Davis is the current president of Senior Skulls, an honor society that promotes campus excellence and traditions, and serves on the Honors College Student Advisory Board. Davis is also a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, a student ambassador of MBS, and a co-ambassador of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute.

Davis is currently working on an Honors thesis on the sustainability of Maine’s artisanal cheese-making. After graduating in May, Davis hopes to gain work experience in his field or travel abroad. Davis believes that an experience outside of his comfort zone will expand his worldview. He says he intends to link his business education with an aspect of sustainable development in the food system or another sector of the economy. Davis plans to work on implementing sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues from a business perspective.

—by Aliya Uteuova ’18 

UMaine Alumni Dirigo Award

Each month the UMaine Alumni Association, with support from
University Credit Union, recognizes an outstanding UMaine student
whose leadership on campus and in the classroom are making a difference.

Dr Richard Powell

UMaine Alumni Association Honors Dr. Richard Powell

faculty-excellence-artLike so many others who move to Maine from elsewhere, Dr. Richard “Rich” Powell was drawn to the state’s natural beauty and special quality of life. Those attributes, as well as connections within the political science community, led him in 2001 to the University of Maine, where he has become a highly regarded teacher, researcher, and colleague.

Powell is a political science professor and director of UMaine’s Cohen Institute for Leadership & Public Service. He was teaching at Hamilton College in upstate New York when then-UMaine political science professors Matthew Moen and Kenneth Palmer told him about an opening in their department.

“I had gotten to know them professionally, and we did a lot of work in similar areas,” Powell explained. “I was interested in the idea of working with them.” Having vacationed in Maine several times, he was also excited about living closer to the ocean and mountains. Now, fifteen years later, he remains excited about the career choice he made.

“I love to come to work every single day,” Powell said.

Colleagues and students alike praise Powell for his work as a researcher and as a teacher. He is the author of numerous journal articles on presidential-congressional relations, state politics, leadership, and more. But he seems to find his greatest joy in working with students. He shared that “helping people discover what it is that they truly want to do, and helping them build a career in an area they enjoy” is immensely fulfilling.

Powell earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University in Chicago after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College. At UMaine he oversees both the Peter Madigan ’81 Congressional Internship Program and the Kenneth Palmer Maine State Legislative Internship Program.

In addition, he is widely regarded within national and international political science circles for his scholarly work on the U.S. Presidency. In 2011-12 he taught graduate-level courses on American government and politics as a Fulbright Fellow at Zhejiang University, one of China’s most highly regarded academic institutions. He, his wife Angela, and their three children lived in a three-bedroom apartment in Hangzhou, a city of eight million residents located south of Shanghai.

Along with deep attention to family life, Powell enjoys playing golf, going to UMaine hockey games, and exploring the Maine outdoors.

The University of Maine Alumni Association and its supporting partner, University Credit Union, are pleased to recognize Dr. Richard Powell with the November 2016 Faculty Excellence Award.

— Aliya Uteuova ’18

Each month the UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, recognizes an outstanding faculty member who is contributing to UMaine’s national reputation for academic excellence. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans.

Adrienne White Oct faculty excellence award

UMaine Alumni Association Honors Dr. Adrienne White

To many, Dr. Adrienne White, professor of food science and human nutrition, is the personification of a land-grant university. A UMaine faculty member since 1988, Dr. White has influenced thousands of lives as a teacher, researcher, mentor, and public servant. She has also earned state and national recognition as a ground-breaker and leader in the field of human nutrition. In short, she is a difference maker.

“Adrienne’s contributions to the nutrition education profession and dietetics is truly exceptional and unparalleled,” noted Dr. Kendra Kattelmann of South Dakota State University. She cites the millions of research grants Dr. White received for work on nutrition, obesity, and other health and dietary issues; the dozens of peer-reviewed research publications she has written; the numerous national and international awards and honors she has received; and her leadership in professional organizations such as the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), an international association of professionals actively involved in health promotion and nutrition education. Dr. White is SNEB’s president-elect.

But it is her willingness to involve her students—current and former—in her teaching, research, and service activities that receives constant thanks and mention.

“Dr. White has a passion for educating her students and always makes time to help them through their struggles, encourages them to explore their own areas of interest, and acts as a strong mentor,” explained then-UMaine senior Tom Merrow last year, adding that Dr. White “works diligently to guide [students] to their goals.”

“As a mentor and role model, Dr. White set the path for my career,” wrote Dr. Jennifer Walsh, a UMaine alumna and current faculty member at the University of Florida. “Dr. White is a trailblazer in nutrition education and eating behavior research…I am always proud to share with other faculty and professionals that I studied at the University of Maine with Dr. Adrienne White because they know her well and respect her many contributions.”

Dr. Ed Ashworth, the recently retired dean of UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, nicely summed up Dr. White’s influence: “[Her] success in the classroom, her ability to engage with students and inspire them, her extensive collaborations across the country, her multi-million dollar research projects, and her commitment to improve health through nutrition education…are the hallmarks of a distinguished professor.”