2024 Alumni Achievement Award Honorees

Each year the UMaine Alumni Association recognizes several individuals who have performed distinguished service on behalf of their professions, communities, and alma mater. To view the award categories, click here.

Registration Info HERE.

Dr. Jim Dill ’72, ’74G Alumni Career Award

From his twenty years of serving on his local school board to his twelve years of serving as both a State Representative and a State Senator in the Maine Legislature, entomologist Jim Dill ’72, ’74G has been chosen to receive the Alumni Career Award, the UMaine Alumni Association’s highest alumni honor. Dill has led the life-saving UMaine Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory, more affectionately called “The Tick Lab,” in investigating ways to reduce the incidences of Lyme disease and other vector-borne diseases not only in Maine but throughout our country.

Dr. Sandra Butler – Distinguished Maine Professor

Dr. Sandra Butler, Director of the School of Social Work and MSW Coordinator for the University of Maine, has been named the 2024 Distinguished Maine Professor, the Alumni Association’s most prestigious faculty award. Butler teaches courses in social welfare policy, with research focusing primarily on the health needs and social welfare experiences of low-income women across the life span. Sandra was a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar from 2001 to 2003, which allowed her to expand her teaching, scholarship, and community service in the area of aging. In 2010, she became a Hartford Faculty Research Mentor. Since its inception in 2001, she has been affiliated with the University of Maine Center on Aging, participating in several research and service projects.

Meredith Strang Burgess ’78 – Suzanne Kay Hart ’68 Alumni Service Award

Meredith is a third-generation graduate of the University of Maine. She continues to be very active in supporting the University and higher education issues in Maine. As an undergraduate, she was active in the Student Alumni Association and assisted the annual Reunion Weekend where she was always assigned to the Class of 1941, which is the year both her parents graduated and was made an honorary member. During her Senior year, she created the Senior Council, as the Class of 1978 did not have any class officers, as was common during the 70’s. She was the president of the Senior Council and has remained the President of her Class through and including her 45th Reunion this past October 2023. In addition, she also served as the Class Correspondent for the Class of 1978 for 20 years.

Michael Shepherd ’12  – Spirit of Maine Achievement Award

Michael Shepherd ’12 has been chosen to receive the Spirit of Maine Achievement Award. The award recognizes an individual who graduated within the past 15 years and has achieved outstanding professional success. It took Michael less than 10 years to rise from his position as editor-in-chief of The Maine Campus student newspaper to his current role as political editor of the Bangor Daily News, where he has established himself as one of Maine’s most reliable and reputable media authorities on government and politics. Shepherd’s coverage of several races of national importance, including the 2020 Senatorial campaign between Senator Susan Collins and Sara Gideon, has established his national prominence. Most recently, Michael assumed a lead role in reporting and coordinating his newspaper’s coverage of the October massacre in Lewiston. Two weeks before the Lewiston tragedy, Michael received the Maine Press Association’s 2023 Journalist of the Year Award.

Suzanne & John Miller – Champion of UMaine Award

John and Suzi Miller have been selected as the recipients of the Champion of UMaine Award. The award recognizes individuals who, though not UMaine graduates, have been strong and effective advocates for UMaine. John and Suzi’s commitment to the University, and specifically the Collins Center for the Arts is generational. In fact, last year, the Miller Family received the CCA’s highest volunteer recognition – The Wilma Award – which recognizes and honors “….extraordinary commitment to the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.” The family’s support for the University has been loyal and wide-ranging, including the creation of the Miller’s Café at the Collins Center for the Arts and the establishment of endowed funds that provide scholarship support as well as support for the arts. Beyond financial support, their volunteerism runs deep, as John has served on the CCA Advisory Board since 2014 and is currently Vice Chair, while his wife Suzi is a member of the CCA’s gala committee.

The Morrison FamilyFogler Legacy Award

The Morrison family has been selected for the Fogler Legacy Award. The honor is awarded annually to a family with multiple generations of Black Bear graduates who have been actively engaged in volunteer service on behalf of UMaine, their community, and/or their respective professions. Four generations of the Morrison family have used their University of Maine degrees to not only further themselves but also bring recognition and honor to the University of Maine System. The family legacy began with Viola Purinton Giffin ’31 and Alvin Giffin ’31, and continued with their daughter Alola Giffin Morrison ’59, who is now the oldest living member of the Giffin/Morrison family of Black Bears.  Alola and her late husband Joseph Morrison ’59, ’67G  had two sons and several grandchildren who have carried on this Black Bear legacy. Their commitment to excellence, education, and service is evident through public service, professional accomplishments, military service, and many volunteer positions each generation has held.

Kelsey Stoyanova ’14, ’18G, ’23EdS – Rising Star Award

Kelsey Stoyanova ’14, ’18G was chosen to receive the Alumni Association’s Rising Star Award in recognition of her efforts in the education system in Maine. She was named Maine Teacher of the Year in 2022 and continues to advocate for students and the teaching profession as a member of the Educate Maine Board of Directors. Stoyanova has continued to be an exemplary alumna of UMaine by pursuing a master’s degree in education in literacy (M.Ed.). Stoyanova currently teaches English at Bangor High School.