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Updated: February 1, 2023

New USM endowment honors late university president

aerial of college campus FILE PHOTO A $1.2 million gift will create the Avangrid David Flanagan Endowed Professorship and Memorial Endowed Scholarship at USM’s Muskie School of Public Service. Shown here is the university's Portland campus.

A newly endowed professorship has been created to help the University of Southern Maine attract faculty who have the expertise to teach and research sustainability, energy and climate transition.

The $1.2 million gift from Avangrid Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Central Maine Power’s parent company, Avangrid, honors the legacy of the 12th president of USM, David Flanagan, who died in October 2021. 

Flanagan led Central Maine Power, Maine’s largest utility, in the 1990s and was CMP’s face during the Ice Storm of '98, which caused widespread power outages for up to a month. He also served as chair of the Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

The legacy gift will create the Avangrid David Flanagan Endowed Professorship and Memorial Endowed Scholarship at USM’s Muskie School of Public Service. 

The scholarship will be available for graduate students enrolled in either the master of policy, planning and management or master of public health degree programs and who have shown an interest in and commitment to sustainability and Maine’s green future.

“Through this partnership between Avangrid, USM and the Muskie School, we can help elevate sustainability as a field of study and research, a critical focus for Maine,” Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra said in a news release.

Avangrid Foundation’s investment will also help leverage matching funds from the Harold Alfond Foundation, where Flanagan served as a trustee from 2014 to 2021. The matching funds would support the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center, which includes the Muskie School, as well as the University of Maine School of Law and Graduate School of Business.

The collaboration on research and programs will tie into future careers at Avangrid.

USM President Jacqueline Edmondson said the donation will help open new career pathways for students. 

“Creating an endowed faculty position through this gift will serve to elevate the Muskie School’s reputation as a leader in sustainability policy, analytics and practice,” she said.

The Muskie School combines applied research and a technical assistance portfolio with academic programs, including undergraduate degrees in geography-anthropology and tourism and hospitality. The school’s research arm is the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy, which annually represents nearly $20 million in grants and contracts focused on the critical issues of our society, including economic development and sustainability. 

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