Recent News

Mac Gray ’73, ’75G Builds Success

Engineering professor Howard “Mac” Gray ’73, ‘75G has enjoyed a career in construction technology both in the field and in the classroom. One of his most satisfying building projects, however, has been developing the Construction Engineering Technology program at his alma mater.

Gray is the January recipient of the Alumni Association’s Faculty Excellence Award. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at UMaine he worked as a structural engineer in Illinois. Missing the opportunities for hiking, canoeing, and camping that his home state provided, the Stockton Springs native returned to Maine and joined his alma mater in 1981. Gray received UMaine’s Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award in 2016.

In layperson’s terms, what are your academic (teaching, research, scholarship) interests?

My main interests are structural analysis and design. My passion is teaching. I particularly enjoy interacting with students. I am currently teaching Statics and Strength of Materials, and Structural Design. I have set up both courses so that students work in teams while I facilitate their problem solving.

I have had many opportunities to work on research projects with students, faculty, and staff at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. I have greatly enjoyed these experiences. In connection with one of these projects I received a patent for a method of reinforcing wood beams to make them stronger.

Why did you choose to pursue those interests?

Pursuing an academic career was not planned. My first professional employment was with Chicago Bridge & Iron Company as a structural engineer. Although I liked the work, my wife and I missed the opportunities for hiking, canoeing, and camping that were abundant when we lived in Maine. I landed a temporary lecturer position at UMaine and planned to look for a position in industry when we got here. It turned out that I loved teaching and was able to get a permanent position.

What is your most memorable event or experience as a member of the UMaine faculty?

The creation of the Construction Management Technology (now named Construction Engineering Technology) program at UMaine.

Of all the courses you’ve taught at UMaine, which one do you enjoy the most? Why?

I have enjoyed all the courses that I have taught at UMaine and the one that I enjoy the most is Structural Design. This is a senior level course with many prerequisites, so the students are well prepared to perform at a high level and work in teams. My favorite part is eavesdropping on a team as they discuss a design problem and work their way to a solution.

What is your favorite place on campus to spend time?

I like to spend time in the University Forest: walking, skiing, or just sitting on a bench.

Aside from your faculty role, what are your interests or favorite things to do?

During the summer I like to boat. My wife and I have both a small sailboat and a small motorboat. My favorite place to go to is the dozens of islands south of Deer Isle. I also like to hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski.

What advice for students do you have to help them succeed?

Study hard but also set aside time for exercise and recreation. Get a good night’s sleep, especially the night before an exam. Join or form a study group. Even if you’re the smartest one of the group you will benefit from explaining concepts to others.

What advice for new faculty members do you have to help them succeed?

Get to know your colleagues and ask them questions. Seek a mentor.

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.


UMaine Student Selected for Cohen Institute for Leadership & Public Service Internship

UMaine senior Adam Fortier-Brown, of Randolph, has been selected to be the first intern in a new program for undergraduates offered by UMaine’s William S. Cohen Institute for Leadership & Public Service.

Fortier-Brown, who is studying economics and political science, will begin the internship January 28 with The Cohen Group in Washington, D.C. The Cohen Group was formed by former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen ’75 Hon. L.L.D. to help enterprises compete in the global marketplace.


Reunion and Homecoming Dates for 2019 Announced!

Mark your calendars! Reunion, which this year celebrates the classes of 1954, 1959, 1964, and 1969 as well as Senior Alumni (members of all graduating classes that have celebrated their 50th class reunion) will take place September 12-13th on campus, with post-reunion activities on September 14. Reunion will feature campus tours, All-Alumni Dinner, Senior Alumni Lunch, a Collins Center for the Arts show, UMaine football game, and more.

Homecoming 2019 will take place October 25-27th and is open to all alumni. Homecoming activities will include  campus tours, a “Welcome Home” reception, the annual Maine Marketplace & Craft Fair, Alumni Village pre-game tailgate party, the Homecoming football game, and much more. Class Reunion activities will be held by the graduating classes of 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014.

More details will be shared in future editions of Bear Tracks.



Pro.U Event at Maine Brewery Gathers Young Alumni Professionals

Last month several recent alumni and friends gathered at Mast Landing Brewery, of Westbrook, ME, for a night of networking with other young professionals.

In collaboration with the Alumni Association and PROPEL, a community organization that unites Portland’s young professionals, businesses and organizations, the event helped connect local UMaine graduates with a network of young professionals that could help propel them into professional roles in the community. Attendees participated in a raffle that included UMaine swag, brewery gift cards, and local event tickets.


Alumni Travel Program Offering Informational Webinar on 2019 Trip to Italy

Interested in traveling to Italy with fellow Black Bears and friends in 2019? The Alumni Association is partnering with Collette Travel to organize a tour of Italy from November 11-23. Following up on the Alumni Association’s popular 2018 tour of Ireland, the 2019 alumni travel program to Italy will provide an amazing, first-class experience covering the canals of Venice, the Colosseum in Rome, breathtaking views of the Tuscan region, and much more.

Sign up for the informational webinar here to learn more and get your questions answered: Or call Collette Travel at 800-581-8942 and refer to booking #934701.


UMaine Football Ends Historic Season, Gains New Head Coach

In December, the Black Bears ended a phenomenal football season with the first football championship subdivision national semifinal appearance in UMaine’s history. The team lost to Eastern Washington University, 50-19, in the Final Four of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision on December 15th.

Given his success during his three years as UMaine’s head coach, Joe Harasymiak was quickly courted by other schools to join their football programs. Harasymiak chose to leave UMaine to accept a position as defensive backs coach at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota competes in the Big Ten Conference, one of the top college conferences in the U.S.

Within hours of Harasymiak’s decision to leave, UMaine Athletic Director Ken Ralph named Nick Charlton as the Black Bears’ new head football coach. Charlton joined UMaine’s football program in 2015, and most recently served as offensive coordinator. The selection received widespread praise by players and fans. More on Charlton’s appointment may be found here.


Alumna Receives Prominent Service Award in the Bangor Area

Renee Ward Kelly ’14G will receive the Arthur A. Comstock Professional Service Award at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner on January 25 at the Cross Insurance Center. The award recognizes Kelley’s service to the region by generously sharing her expertise with both the Chamber and the greater community.

Kelly is assistant vice president for innovation and economic development for the University of Maine and also leads the Foster Center for Student Innovation on campus.


Alumni Service Awards Announced

The Alumni Association has selected several Black Bears to receive its top alumni service awards. The awards were based on nominations submitted by alumni during 2018 and chosen by the Alumni Association’s awards selection committee. 

Mark Bancroft ’93, ’94, Thomas “Skip” Chappelle ’62, and Edward Keefe ’86 have been selected to receive Black Bear awards. The award recognizes alumni who have consistently advocated for the university, increasing or enhancing the reputation and appreciation of UMaine through academics, athletics, the arts, and/or alumni success.

Herb Cohen ’58, Elizabeth Parker Enstrom ’55, Carolynn Ruzbarsky Woodhull ’70, and James Kachmar ’94 have been chosen to receive Block “M” awards. The award is given to alumni who have worked to strengthen their class, alumni chapter, or alumni group.

Rachel Davenport Dutch ’73 has been selected to receive the 2019 Class Correspondent Award. It recognizes an individual who, as class correspondent, has communicated effectively with classmates and helped them connect with each other and UMaine.

The Alumni Association will present these awards at regional events in the honorees’ areas of residence during the course of the year.

In December the Alumni Association announced the 2019 recipients of its Alumni Achievement Awards, a separate recognition program whose recipients will be honored in Orono on Friday, April 5th. Click here for more information about the alumni awards categories and nomination processes.

2019 Black Bear Road Trip Kicks Off in February

The UMaine Alumni Association is ready to kick off its 2019 Black Bear Road Trip, the annual series of alumni events that will be held in various locations around the United States. Organized in coordination with local alumni volunteers, this year’s plans include events in at least nine states and the District of Columbia.

The first stops occur in February, with alumni gatherings in  Tucson (February 19th) and Phoenix, AZ (February 21st). In March the Road Trip travels to The Villages, FL, for dinner and a program featuring UMaine representatives. On March 13, Black Bears will gather at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL, for a Red Sox Spring Training game and a pre-game barbecue.  

Other Road Trip events during 2019 include Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Lowcountry, S.C., Denver, Chicago, Houston, and the San Francisco Bay area.

Plans are evolving, so check back for information on other locations here.

UMaine President hosts legislative delegation

On Monday President Joan Ferrini-Mundy (standing) hosted a group of state legislators from the greater Bangor region on campus. The meeting took place a few days following the convening of Legislature’s new two-year session.  In all, five senators and 18 state representatives are Black Bear alumni. They are:

State Senators: Michael E. Carpenter ’71, Houlton; Paul T. Davis ’86, Sangerville; Benjamin M. Chipman ’97, Portland; James F. Dill ’72, ’74G, Old Town; and Stacey Smith Guerin ’81, Glenburn.

State Representatives: Robert W. Alley, Sr. ’10G, Beals; Richard H. Campbell ’03, Orrington; Michelle Ann Dunphy ’89, ’96G, Old Town; Jeffrey P. Evangelos ’74G, Friendship; David G. Haggan ’89, Hampden; Norman E. Higgins ’68, ’73G, Dover-Foxcroft; Victoria Porter Kornfield ’81G, Bangor; John L. Martin ’63, Eagle Lake; Ann P. Matlack ’77, Spruce Head; David H. McCrea ’82, Fort Fairfield; Genevieve Kurilec McDonald ’15, Stonington; H. Sawin Millett, Jr. ’67, Waterford; Paul A. Stearns ’92, Guilford; Harold L. “Trey” Stewart III ’16, Presque Isle; Gregory L. Swallow ’81, Houlton; and W. Edward Crockett ’83, Portland.