Recent News

Black Bears are one win away from the National Championship game!

The amazing journey continues, as the UMaine football team approaches Saturday’s semifinal game against Eastern Washington University (EWU).

The game will be played at the EWU campus in Cheney, Washington, near Spokane. Saturday’s game will kick off at 2 p.m. Eastern Time and will be carried live on ESPN2.

A victory there will propel the Black Bears to the national championship game, to be played January 5th at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

This is the first time in UMaine football history that it has reached the final four of the NCAA Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-AA.

The Black Bears earned a spot in the final four by defeating Weber State University, 23-18, Friday in Ogden, Utah. The nationally televised game provided great public exposure for the football program as well as for the Pride of Maine Marching Band, cheerleaders, and dance team, who were featured prominently during broadcast coverage. Their participation was made possible thanks to a generous UMaine donor who funded their travel.

The NCAA pays the travel expenses of the football team and coaches.

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 “the father of personal 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.

Phoenix Mitchell ’19 is proud to be a Black Bear

For senior Phoenix Mitchell ’19, the possibility of attending a college that did not have a marching band was unthinkable. That’s why Phoenix, December’s Dirigo Award recipient, chose UMaine.

What town or city do you live in when the university is not in session?

The last two summers I’ve stayed in Orono and worked but when I’m not here I go home to New London, CT. [Orono] is a home away from home.I love it here.

What is your major (or intended major)?

Psychology, with a concentration in Biological/Cognition. I’m also minoring in Pre-Med. I eventually want to become a dentist.

What UMaine-affiliated clubs or organizations are you involved in?

I’m in the marching band, pep band, Team Maine, and Greek life.

Favorite place to hang out on campus?

On campus you can find me at the “bandie table” in the Union. If I’m not there, I’m in the library of Class of 1944 Hall.

Favorite place to hang out off campus?

Off campus I hang out at the Family Dog [a restaurant in downtown Orono]! Sweet potato fries ’til I die!

What is your most memorable event or experience as a UMaine student?

I’ve had a lot of memorable experiences as a student here and I continue to create more but if I had to choose one I would say when the pep band went to Austin, Texas, with the women’s basketball team [in March when the team played in the NCAA tournament]. Whenever the pep band travels with a team, it’s a great time.

Aside from coursework and campus life, what are your interests or favorite things to do?

My favorite things to do are sudoku, painting, sleeping, and hanging out with my friends.

Who is/are your favorite UMaine professor(s) and what makes them stand out?

My favorite UMaine professor is Mr. White [Christopher White ’94G] because I’ve had the most encounters with him and he always tells me jokes.

What year do you expect to receive your bachelor’s degree?

I will be [participating in commencement ceremonies in  spring 2019 but will receive my bachelor’s degree spring 2020.

What are your plans for the year immediately following your UMaine graduation?

I want to either go to dental school, or take a year off and travel.

What do you see yourself doing professionally once you’ve finished your education?

I see myself working in a dental office or having my own practice.

What are the keys to being a successful student at UMaine?

The keys are balancing your school, social, and me time. Self-love is the most important and your mental health should always come first.

The UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, each month presents its Dirigo Award to an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans and the Division of Student Life.

Yong Chen aids fisheries

It’s no fish story that Prof. Yong Chen’s research on fish populations supports the development of sustainable fisheries in Maine and beyond. The fisheries scientist came to UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences in 2000 after teaching at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Chen uses an interdisciplinary approach in his research, combining biology, ecology, and mathematical and statistical modeling to study fisheries. Chen is the December recipient of the Alumni Association’s Faculty Excellence Award.

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

My academic interests include assessing how fish populations change over time and space and understanding how these changes can be influenced by environmental conditions and human activity such as commercial and recreational fisheries. Such an understanding is critical for developing sustainable fisheries.

Why did you choose to pursue those interests?

Marine fisheries studies the dynamic interactions between human and natural systems, and thus must be studied with an interdisciplinary approach. I am very interested in interdisciplinary research and want to improve our understanding of fish population dynamics for the development of sustainable fisheries.  

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

I will not forget the UMaine 2018 convocation. I received the 2018 UMaine Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award and five of my graduate students were conferred their Ph.D. degrees.

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

I always enjoy teaching SMS 562 Fisheries Population Dynamics. This is a graduate course that covers designing fisheries monitoring programs, modeling fish life history processes, estimating key fisheries parameters, and modeling fish population dynamics. It is a challenging course for students because it requires quantitative modeling skills and a good understanding of fisheries science. I have enjoyed teaching this course because it is a small class allowing me to have in-depth discussions with graduate students and doing in-class modeling exercises. Most graduate students know why they want to take this course and use what they learn in class in their own research, which makes me feel accomplished as an educator.

What is your favorite place on campus to spend time?

My favorite place on campus is the Memorial Union, where I often meet with my colleagues and students and sometimes get lunch with my wife, who works on campus for the University of Maine System.

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

I enjoy listening to classical music, cooking, and working around my house. I also spend a lot of time serving as the editor-in-chief for two major international fisheries journals in the world. I enjoy reading and editing people’s work and am glad I have the opportunity to do so.

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

My advice is to set up some realistic goals and relevant milestones, and work hard towards them. Speaking from the position of an educator and researcher, I believe finding research and work opportunities is a good way for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience in their fields of interests. I also encourage students not to be afraid of interacting more with faculty members both academically and socially; we are here to help students, after all.

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

The most important advice I can give to new faculty members is that you need to love what you do and feel good about the contributions you make to teaching, research, and service. Finding a balance between work and family is also very important.

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.


Alumni Association President receives national higher ed award

John Diamond ’77, ’89G, president and executive director of the UMaine Alumni Association, was selected as the 2018 recipient of the nation’s top award for higher education advocacy and government relations.

Diamond received the Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Achievement Award on December 6th during ceremonies held in Atlanta as part of the annual Higher Education Government Relations Conference. The award is administered by four Washington D.C.-based higher education organizations: the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Alumna honored as “Emerging Maine Icon”

Alison Bromley Siviski ’11 was recently named an “Emerging Maine Icon,” as part of Anania Media’s series highlighting young entrepreneurial leaders in the state.

As the feature story explains, Siviski overcame a series of life challenges growing up, including her mother’s severe health issues and a fire that decimated the family’s home. As a result, she often had to take care of herself while in her teen years.

Today Siviski serves as community and communications manager for  the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, coaches varsity cheering for Deering High School, and gives her time to the Junior League of Portland, Maine. Read more about her story in Anania Media’s feature here.


UMaine Alumni Association gives back to the community this holiday season

This month the  Alumni Association staff took part in two charitable activities to spread holiday cheer throughout the community.

Staff and friends donated nonperishable food items and gently used clothing for the Black Bear Exchange, UMaine’s on-campus food pantry and clothing exchange. The mission of the Black Bear Exchange is to provide equitable resources to all those who work, attend, and live near the University of Maine, as well as to reuse goods in order to eliminate wasted resources.

In addition, the Buchanan Alumni House Christmas tree had a special feature this year. In partnership with Christmas is for Kids, a local collaboration to provide Christmas gifts to those in need, staff, visitors, and community members could purchase presents for area children.



”Italian Vistas” selected as 2019 alumni travel destination

Thinking of doing some exploration and travel during 2019? Consider joining Black Bear alumni and friends for an excursion to Italy. The Alumni Association’s travel program will journey to Italy November 11-23. The trip, titled “Italian Vistas,” will explore Florence, Pisa, Siena, and more. Special activities will include wine tours, cooking classes, historic excursions, and more throughout the Tuscan region.

The Alumni Association will soon host a free online Q&A session for individuals interested in learning more details about the opportunity. Email us at if you would like to be notified when the date and time of that Q&A session is set.

Former UMaine basketball coach and players reunite for memorable event

Former UMaine women’s basketball coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie returned to Maine for a November game, where her nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils took on  the Black Bears, coached by her former star guard Amy Vachon ‘00. Maine came within three four points of pulling off an upset, falling to Duke 66-63.

The occasion brought together dozens of former members of the women’s basketball team, who gathered for a pre-game reception and later on the court for a group photo. Also honored on the court was the family of Stacey Porrini Clingan ‘97, who was a leader of the Black Bears during the mid-1990s. Clingan, 42, died earlier this year as a consequence of breast cancer.

McCallie coached at UMaine from 1992 – 2000, later at Michigan State, and has coached the Duke University women’s basketball for the past 12 years.

“It’s great to be home, and I have so much respect for the job Amy has done,” McCallie told the Bangor Daily News.


UMaine Professor finds pesticides in Alaskan glacier and meltwater

Research assistant professor Kimberley Miner ’18 Ph.D. recently discovered pesticide pollutants, including the insecticide DDT, in an unlikely place: a remote Alaskan glacier and its meltwater.

The pesticides, Miner states, were deposited and stored near the surface of the Jarvis Glacier in Alaska and are more than likely transported from Asia where they are used as a preventative measure against malaria. Pesticides that contain organochlorine compounds (OCPs) are banned in many countries because exposure can result in a number of health conditions including fatigue, headache, nausea, blurry vision, tremors, confusion, cancer, coma, and death.

While the toxin concentrations are relatively low, the opportunity of bioaccumulation of pollutants in animals and fish may increase as the glacier melts. Other UMaine researchers who participated in the research include Karl Kreutz ’94G, Seth Campbell ’05G, ’08, ’10G, ’14 Ph.D., Christopher Gerbi ’05 Ph.D., Brian Perkins ’84, and Steven Bernsen. More about their research can be found here.