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Updated: September 16, 2019

UMaine, Thomas College dedicate new facilities

UMaine building rendering COURTESY / UNIVERSITY OF MAINE The new $80 million engineering education and design center building at the University of Maine, shown here in a rendering, is on track toward completion in 2022.

Last week, the University of Maine celebrated the naming of its new E. James Ferland and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center.

Today, Thomas College in Waterville is saluting the dedication and naming of the Peter and Paula Lunder School of Education.

Engineering at UMaine

At UMaine, Skowhegan natives E. James Ferland and Eileen P. Ferland donated $10 million in March 2018 toward construction of the engineering building. 

The 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.

The goal of the E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center in Orono is to help meet student demand and Maine's need for engineers, according to a news release.

The center will house the biomedical engineering program and department of mechanical engineering, as well as teaching laboratories for mechanical engineering technology. The building will also provide space for UMaine engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects.

The announcement was made by University of Maine Foundation President and CEO Jeffery Mills at an alumni association dinner Sept. 12 on campus, where Jim Ferland was celebrating his 55th class reunion.

University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy recognized the Maine Legislature’s critical $50 million investment in the facility. 

The new Engineering Education and Design Center at the University of Maine will be named for Skowhegan natives E. James and Eileen Ferland, whose $10 million investment will help construct the facility. On hand for the announcement Sept. 12 at UMaine were, from left, University of Maine Foundation president and CEO Jeffery Mills, UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, the Ferlands and UMaine College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey.

“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,” Ferrini-Mundy said in the release.

The center will give UMaine the capacity to educate up to 3,000 engineering students, said UMaine College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey.

UMaine’s College of Engineering has seen 70% growth in undergraduate enrollment since 2001, and a 99% placement rate of its graduates in careers or grad school. In December 2017, WBRC Architects Engineers, based in Bangor, and Ellenzweig of Boston was selected to design the new facility. Groundbreaking is planned in spring 2020, with anticipated completion in 2022.

The Ferlands 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 Co., 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 earned an MBA from the University of New Haven.

Ferland completed the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration’s Program for Management Development in 1977 and was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of Northeast Utilities. He became NU’s president in 1983. In 1986, he 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. 

Education at Thomas

Since 2002, Peter and Paula Lunder’s investment in Thomas College students and future educators has totaled more than $5 million, including scholarship funds and a $1.725 million gift in 2015 that established the Center for Innovation in Education.  The college is naming its School of Education after these Maine philanthropists Monday, according to a news release.

Courtesy / Thomas College
Ed Cervone, at right, was hired as executive director of Thomas College’s Center for Innovation in Education. Cervone has nearly 20 years of education policy and economic development experience in Maine. He previously served in leadership roles at the Maine Development Foundation and Educate Maine.

The college said the Lunder School of Education will offer the first-of-its-kind three-year accelerated bachelor’s degree in early childhood, elementary and secondary education, as well as master of science degrees in education, education leadership and literacy education. Not only will the accelerated offering reduce the cost of college by over 25%, it will also put teachers into Maine’s workforce sooner than conventional programs, addressing a critical shortage.

“The Lunder School of Education is at the leading-edge of teacher preparation, empowering them with 21st-century teaching methods and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to provide a highly-personalized education that will transform the lives of the students they will serve in the years ahead,” President Laurie Lachance said in the release.

“The Lunder family has been a long-time supporter of education and the Central Maine region. We are so grateful for their support and honored to be able to dedicate the School of Education to Peter and Paula.”

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