Recent News

New Engineering Center to be Named After Jim and Eileen Ferland

The secret has been revealed: Skowhegan natives E. James “Jim” Ferland ‘64 and Eileen P. Ferland are the previously anonymous donors whose $10 million gift in March will help construct the Engineering Education and Design Center at the University of Maine.

The announcement was made by University of Maine Foundation President/CEO Jeffery Mills at the UMaine Alumni Association’s 2019 Reunion dinner Sept. 12 on campus, where Jim Ferland was celebrating his 55th class reunion. The Ferlands had agreed to allow their names to be revealed at the event.

The planned 100,000 square-foot facility will be named the E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (EEDC). It will house the Biomedical Engineering Program and Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as teaching laboratories for mechanical engineering technology, and provide space for all UMaine engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects.

The Ferlands’ gift helped the UMaine Foundation set a record for giving totals — $17.4 million in private support from more than 350 individuals, corporations, and foundations. More than $66 million of the $75 million to $77 million project total has now been raised.

According to Mills, the Ferlands’ investment gave the EEDC fundraising campaign momentum, inspiring others to believe that “together, this project will be accomplished.”

“We are pleased to make a contribution toward improving the infrastructure at UMaine, and hope others will be encouraged to join in bringing this important project to the finish line,” said Jim Ferland.

University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy thanked the Ferlands and other UMaine alumni class leaders for their contributions, and also recognized the Maine Legislature’s critical $50 million investment in this important facility that will benefit Maine and its future workforce. 

“The Engineering Education and Design Center will transform engineering education at UMaine and for the state, fostering an even more collaborative community of learners, teachers, and partners,” said Ferrini-Mundy. “This new facility will help fulfill a critical need by educating engineers for Maine and beyond, and it aligns with the University of Maine System plan for research and development.”

“An Engineering education provides a strong foundation for a wide range of careers,” Jim Ferland  said. He and his wife, Eileen, have previously endowed a $1 million Engineering Excellence scholarship at the University of Maine Foundation to encourage students from their hometown of Skowhegan to consider the University of Maine engineering program.

Jim Ferland received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at UMaine in 1964 and began his career as an engineer with the Hartford Electric Light Company, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities in Connecticut. In 1967 he joined the initial operating staff of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station and in 1976 became station superintendent, the same year he achieved an MBA from the University of New Haven. He completed the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration’s Program for Management Development in 1977 and shortly thereafter was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of Northeast Utilities. He became NU’s president in 1983. 

In 1986, Jim Ferland was recruited by Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG) as chairman, president and CEO, positions he held through retirement in 2007 — making him the longest-serving CEO in the industry. Jim and Eileen split their time between homes in Florida and Maine and enjoy boating and traveling with their son, daughter, and four grandchildren.

“UMaine needs to produce more engineers to solve our world’s most challenging problems,” said UMaine College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey. “The Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center will give UMaine the capacity to educate up to 3,000 engineering students, to meet the demand for our graduates from companies in Maine and beyond.” 

Currently, UMaine engineering graduates have a 99% placement rate in careers or graduate school.  

Groundbreaking for the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center is planned in spring 2020, with anticipated completion in 2022.

Fundraising for the estimated $75 million to $77 million EEDC project continues, including opportunities to name spaces in the facility. More information is available on the University of Maine Foundation website.

The EEDC project is part of UMaine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign, which has raised over $182 million, led by the University of Maine Foundation.


UMaine Will Take Part in AORE Campus Challenge Again

The University of Maine and the Orono community will take part in the annual AORE Campus Challenge, a nationwide competition in which 100 campus communities compete to participate in the most outdoor activities from September 16th to October 13th. The purpose of the annual challenge is to inspire a passion for healthy outdoor lifestyles in communities across the nation.

Each campus will gain points when community members, students, faculty, staff, or alumni get outside and log their activities. The school with the most people to get outside will win the National Outdoor Championship. To participate in the challenge, download the AORE Campus Challenge App. Once downloaded, start taking photos on the first day of the competition (make sure you are in the photo to receive credit) and start logging all of your outdoor activities (5 allowed daily) during the challenge month.


UMaine to Have Presence at the American Folk Festival

The University of Maine will have a tent this year at the American Folk Festival, a large-scale, three-day event which brings a mix of cultures together each year for celebration.

The UMaine tent will feature giveaways, yearbooks, photos,  magazines, and information from a number of colleges, schools, and organizations on campus.

The American Folk Festival, in partnership with the University of Maine, introduced the festival tradition in 2000 as a celebration of multi-cultural traditional arts including music, dance, crafts, food, and storytelling.

Held each year at the end of August in downtown Bangor, Maine, the festival presents music and dance from some of the many cultures that make up America today. With UMaine as a cultural center of the Bangor Region, we invite our UMaine alumni and friends to gather and celebrate this unique experience together.

Athletics Offers Special Young Alumni Discount

Young alumni will receive discounted rates on season passes for all four of UMaine’s ticketed sports this year including football, men’s ice hockey, women’s basketball, and men’s baseball.

University of Maine athletics, in an effort to keep young alumni engaged with Black Bear Sports after college and beyond, is offering a special 20% discount on full-season memberships for undergraduate and graduate school alumni who have earned their degree within the last five years (2015-2019).

For more information, or to purchase your young alumni season membership, please contact the UMaine Athletics ticket office, or call 207.581.BEAR.

For those alumni and friends who can’t make it to campus for sporting events, Athletics and Black Bear Sports Properties recently partnered with WVII/WVFX/WPME for a 10-game television schedule for 2019 football and men’s ice hockey. More information, and the schedule for televised games can be found here.


Downing, Joncas Join Alumni Association Board

Elizabeth “Liz” Downing ’77 and Craig Joncas ’09 have been elected to three-year
terms on the UMaine Alumni Association Board of Directors.

For Downing, president of the Class of 1977, it’s a return to the Board: She previously served for several years and was asked to rejoin given her professional role as a senior official in UMaine’s Undergraduate Admissions Office. Among her many responsibilities, Downing coordinates Admissions’ Alumni Ambassadors program, which connects alumni with prospective students at local and regional recruitment events. 

A professional flutist, Downing also teaches in UMaine’s School of Performing Arts. She earned two bachelor’s degrees: one in Music and one in German.  She lives in Brewer with her husband, UMaine Professor Emeritus Dennis Cox. 

Joncas, of Portland, is managing partner with Penobscot Financial Advisors. He actually started with the company as an intern during his senior year at UMaine. He is active in several volunteer organizations, including service as a board member of PROPEL, the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce’s organization of young professionals. Joncas earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance while at UMaine. 

Click here to see the full membership of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.


Several Alumni Reunion Events Set for this Fall

The University of Maine Alumni Association is gearing up for several alumni-centered events this fall including our September Reunions and the ever-growing Homecoming Weekend.

The deadline for registrations for September Reunions is fast approaching. Click here to register or for more information on Reunion 2019. The classes of 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, and Senior Alumni will return to Orono September 12th through 14th to reunite with classmates and to tour campus.

This year’s Homecoming celebrations will highlight the classes of 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014 from October 25th through the 27th. Click here to register or for more information on Homecoming 2019. It’s time to come home!


Commissioner Heather Johnson ’92 Has a Big Job

As the State of Maine’s commissioner of economic and community development, Heather Finnemore Johnson ’92 coordinates the efforts of more than two dozen experts across several government bureaus. Their mission: to help communities and businesses plan and prosper through a variety of programs that provide everything from targeted tax relief to community block grants to tourism marketing. 

Johnson, a journalism major during her undergraduate days at UMaine, has more than 25 years of experience in both the private and public sectors. She recently appeared on Maine Public Radio’s “Maine Calling” program to discuss Maine’s economy and potential. Click here to listen. 


Blueberries in Maine This Year Will Be Late, But Sweet

UMaine’s Cooperative Extension sheds light on this year’s Maine blueberry harvest.

David Handley, vegetable and small fruit specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, recently spoke with Maine Public and explained that in Maine, the harvest will be pushed back anywhere between 10 days and two weeks due to rain and colder temperatures.

The bright side, Handley notes, is that because of all the rain, the quality is good. Although a little late, the crop of wild blueberries will still be sweet.

Handley works primarily at Highmoor Farm, a Cooperative Extension Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station in Monmouth, Maine, with 17 acres in orchards and five acres of vegetables and small fruits. The Cooperative Extension also operates the Blueberry Hill Farm in Jonesboro, the only university-based wild blueberry research facility in the nation.


2019 Sports Hall of Fame Class Includes Seven Individuals and a Team

The UMaine Sports Hall of Fame will induct 7 individuals and a team this fall, adding athletes from men’s soccer, cross country, football, women’s soccer, field hockey, track & field, and baseball.

This year’s Hall of Famers were selected by the M Club and approved by UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Athletic Director Ken Ralph. The dinner and ceremony will be held on Friday, September 13th at 5:30 p.m. at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, Maine. More information and registration details can be found here.

Honorees include Corey Conner ’13, 10-time America East champion and two-time track All-American; Gerald Ellis ’64, nine-time letterwinner and two-time Maine State Champion in the mile; Heather Hathorn Driscoll ’06, women’s soccer record holder for career goals and points; Joe Johnson ’83, second round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves and NCAA Regional All-Star Co-MVP; Kelly Newton ’12, three-time field hockey all-conference first team selection and 2010 America East Offensive Player of the Year; Ben Spike ’89, men’s soccer captain and All-New England selection; the late Justin Strzelczyk ’91, nine-year NFL veteran; and the 1965 football team, Yankee Conference Champions and the only team in UMaine history to appear in a Bowl game, having participated in the Tangerine Bowl.


Cattelle ’64 Part of Historic Apollo 12 Mission

When the mission that accomplished the United States’ first moon landing, Apollo 11, took off Dick Cattelle ’64 was a young engineer helping prepare for the Apollo 12 launch, the second moon landing which occurred four months later.

On the 50-year anniversary Cattelle reflects on his experience with NASA, stating that it was an exciting experience for him and, for the country, a “bright light” in the troubled decade of the sixties.

Catelle worked for several years in California developing rocket engines and the final stage for the rocket to go to the moon. He was transferred to Houston, Texas, and became part of the team in charge of the Saturn 5 rockets responsible for sending astronauts into space.

He stayed with the Apollo program until it ended in the mid-1970s, and he then returned to Maine. Catelle went on to become a real estate developer but continued his passion for the space program as the leader of the Challenger Learning Center in Bangor. Read more about his journey here.