UMaine Alumni Achievement Awards Announced

The recognized “father of the personal computer,” a noted heart surgeon, a widely respected higher education leader, and a fast-rising young attorney are among the Black Bear alumni to be honored as part of the University of Maine Alumni Association’s 2019 Alumni Achievement Awards.

Chuck Peddle has been chosen for the Alumni Career Award, the association’s highest honor. A Bangor native now
living in Santa Cruz, California, Peddle graduated from UMaine in 1959 and has been a prominent figure in computing technology for decades. As an electrical engineer, in 1976 Peddle led the design of the groundbreaking 6502 microprocessor, which helped make personal computers, arcade video games, and other technology both possible and affordable to consumers. Because of his many successes and influence over technological advances, he is frequently referred to as a “pioneer in computing” within and outside of Silicon Valley.

Dr. Bruce J. Leavitt has been selected to receive the Bernard Lown Humanitarian Award. Leavitt, currently the division chief of cardiac and thoracic surgery at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, has traveled to Rwanda, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Panama, Russia, and China to perform heart surgeries as part of Team Heart Cardiac Surgery Mission, Doctors Without Borders, and other humanitarian aid organizations. A Waterville native, Leavitt graduated from UMaine in 1977.

Donna Keirstead Thornton is the recipient of the 2019 Pine Tree Emblem Alumni Service Award. Currently Rutgers University’s vice president for alumni engagement, annual giving, and alumni and development communications, Thornton was the UMaine Alumni Association’s vice president and chief operations officer for several years and served a year as interim president and CEO. She also has held volunteer leadership roles with the UMaine Foundation and the university itself. A Presque Isle native, she earned her bachelor’s degree from UMaine in 1978 and her master’s degree in 1979.

Abtin Mehdizadegan, a member of UMaine’s Class of 2010, has been selected to receive the Spirit of Maine Achievement Award.  The award recognizes a young alumnus or alumna who has achieved exceptional professional success in the years since graduation. A Presque Isle native, Mehdizadegan is an employment attorney with Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, a prominent law firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has been recognized numerous times in his short career, including Top Attorneys of 2017 (Arkansas Life magazine), Rising Stars in Employment Law (HR Professionals magazine), and 20 in Their 20s (Arkansas Business magazine).

In addition to Peddle, Leavitt, Thornton, and Mehdizadegan, several others will be honored when the Alumni Association holds its annual alumni achievement awards recognition dinner and ceremony in Orono on Friday, April 5. Those honorees are:

Miles Theeman of Bangor, recipient of the Champion of UMaine Award, which recognizes a non-alumnus or -alumna who has been an effective, longtime advocate for UMaine’s mission and public agenda.

Paige Eggleston of Portland and Nate Wildes of Bath, co-recipients of the Rising Star Awards. The award honors recent graduates who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing the strength and success of the Alumni Association and its members. Eggleston graduated in 2013; Wildes graduated in 2012.

The Davee family, which will receive the Fogler Legacy Award. The award is given to a family that has had multiple generations of Black Bear alumni. Ten members of the Davee family have earned UMaine degrees, with another member currently pursuing an engineering degree.

Recipients of three other categories of alumni service awards—Black Bear, Block M, and Class Correspondent—will be announced in January and will be bestowed at alumni events in the honorees’ respective regions of residence over the course of 2019.