2018 has been a year to remember at the University of Southern Maine (USM). From historic achievements, including the passage of a $49 million bond package for the University of Maine System, to major gifts that will benefit our students, staff, faculty and community for generations to come. This year is one we will never forget.

We're rounding up the 10 best stories of the year (plus a few we couldn't ignore) — stories that celebrate our students, the achievements of our alumni and ones that demonstrate USM's growing reach into the regional community. It's been a great year in USM news.

Photo: USM President Glenn Cummings

1. Award-winning alumni

USM alum David Lovejoy earns Emmy Award for Alaskan photography

In September, USM alumnus David Lovejoy '10 won an Emmy Award in "Outstanding Cinematography for a Reality Program" for his work on the BBC TV show "Life Below Zero," which chronicles the lives of subsistence hunters in the remote portions of Alaska.

“I’m over the moon ... I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, and how the stars aligned to get me [here]."

Lovejoy is a 2010 graduate of USM's Communication and Media Studies program.

Famed alum Tony Shalhoub wins 1st Tony Award

In June, actor and USM alumnus Tony Shalhoub took home the 2018 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his work on the musical, “The Band’s Visit." Shalhoub, who has previously won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his role as the title character on the TV show "Monk," is a 1977 graduate of USM's Theatre program.

All photos courtesy David Lovejoy '10.

2. Patsy & the patriots

Patriots award USM professor $25,000 for the healthcare charity she founded

School of Nursing Assistant Professor Patricia Thompson Leavitt was awarded the $25,000 grand prize of the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards to Leavitt's Mill Free Health Center, which she founded.

The clinic, staffed by volunteers and USM nursing students, helps uninsured community members identify and treat a variety of chronic conditions.

“It was shock and disbelief."
All photos courtesy Patsy Thompson-Leavitt.
USM Gorham Campus

3. $100 million in maps

Rare map collection and new endowments coming to USM in transformative philanthropic gift from Osher family

In June, USM was bestowed one of the world’s finest private collections of rare and historic maps and a new significant endowment — estimated in value at over $100 million — in what is believed to be the largest single gift in University of Maine System history.

The collection, donated by Dr. Harold Osher, includes such precious rarities as the 1475 map of the Holy Land (pictured at right), including illustrated Biblical scenes, which is regarded as the first modern printed map; the majestic and patriotically-inspired “Leo Belgicus” (Lion of the Netherlands, above), a circa 1617 map of the area which now includes the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg; and John Mitchell’s “Map of the British Colonies in America” from 1755, often called “the most important map in American history," among myriad others.

USM President Glenn Cummings and Dr. Harold Osher sign off on the stunning, $100 million gift.

unprecedented giving

$1 million gift to establish center for digital sciences

On Oct. 24, USM President Glenn Cummings announced a $1 million gift to USM from Michael Dubyak, former CEO of WEX, to establish a Center for Digital Science and Innovation.

The announcement reflects the university’s commitment to address Maine’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workforce needs.

Photo: USM President Glenn Cummings and Mike Dubyak shake hands following the announcement.

unprecedented giving

$500,000 legacy of rare books

This year USM announced a $500,000 legacy gift to its prestigious Special Collections at the Glickman Family Library from Albert A. Howard, a collector of rare books. Before his death in 2017, Howard served 35 years in the halls of the USM Libraries.

$450,000 of the gift will be used to create an endowment to support the collection in perpetuity. The remainder will be used for near term needs for care of the collection and improvements, such as equipment and supplies to protect against damage and disrepair, and for digitizing signature items.

Featured Alumna

Shaelan Donovan '18 navigates her own path

Shipping containers at the International Marine Terminal in Portland, Maine.

Shaelan Donovan, a recent graduate of USM who partook in a unique partnership between USM and Reykjavík University (RU) in Iceland. There, she was able to take business classes while advancing her career in international trade — the first USM student to do so.

In Iceland, Donovan worked for multinational shipping company Eimskip, which in 2013 established its North American headquarters in Portland. The effects of that move have dramatically increased international shipments from Maine — 600 percent since 2009, according to the Maine International Trade Center.

4. Maine meets the NORTH ATLANTIC

Photo of Tromsø, Norway courtesy Svein-Magne Tunli, tunliweb.no

Maine North Atlantic Institute at USM hopes to position Maine at center of the trade region’s growing economy

The University of Southern Maine unveiled plans Nov. 1 for the newly-formed Maine North Atlantic Institute to forge greater business, educational and social connections between Maine and countries throughout the North Atlantic.

The institute will bring together dozens of ongoing projects in which USM students and faculty are working with schools such as Reykjavik University in Iceland and the University of Tromsø in Norway, and businesses such as Whole Oceans, which plans to open a large-scale, land-based salmon farm in Bucksport, Maine.

USM Portland Campus

5. enrollment jumps high

New Fall 2018 enrollment numbers show surging growth

Newly-released enrollment figures show the university’s student population rose to 8,140 in 2018, surging past the 8,000 mark for the first time in recent years.

The numbers show a 5.18 percent increase in overall student enrollment since Fall 2015. During that same three-year period, the number of graduate students rose by 10.1 percent. Students are also busier than before, with the number of credit-hours increasing by 7.1 percent since 2015.

“Our enrollment increase reflects a growing recognition that USM offers a first-class education and that we are a community engaged institution ensuring job-ready graduates to meet the critical workforce needs of our state,” USM President Glenn Cummings said.

Student Spotlight

Seth Percy '19 wants to engineer the future of medicine

Seth Percy with his faculty advisor, associate professor of electrical engineering Carlos Lück.

USM Senior Seth Percy was recently awarded a fellowship from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) — a scholarly program at USM that funds student and collaborative research projects from across all disciplines — to complete his project and study in the university’s Robotics and Intelligence Systems Laboratory.

“I’ve never liked to put limitations on myself. I have always just found a lot of happiness in helping people — that’s one reason why I gravitated toward medical robotics.”

He says he's always seen robotics as something society was destined to integrate. And, with a brother who is currently pursuing medicine, he said he feels passionate about bringing the two fields together.

6. Center for the arts gets a boost

Early conceptual renderings by Scott Simons Architects

USM receives $1 million gift to launch new Center for the Arts

A passionate supporter of the arts (who wishes to remain anonymous) has made a $1 million contribution to USM's long-anticipated Center for the Arts, allowing the university to begin the selection process for an architectural and engineering team to design the new facility.

A key element in the university's master plan for the Portland campus, the Center for the Arts will meet the academic programming needs of USM's outstanding School of Music and departments of Theatre and Art, and it will feature a 1,000 seat concert hall, a recital hall, black box theater and art gallery.


The faces behind The University of Everyone

Social workers, musicians, nurses and educators; a mascot and his mother graduating together; the leaders of tomorrow: These graduates perfectly represent us as The University of Everyone.

Left to Right: Auma Aliardo, Bryan Waring, Stacey Henson-Drake, Niffy & Ian Allen, Melissa Cunningham, Tiia Kand, Thomas Henley and Katie Tomer.

7. stopping an invasion


Maine is under assault by the European green crab, an invasive species that feeds on clam beds and has been linked to the decline of the soft-shell clam industry. While much research has focused on the potential impact of the green crab invasion, research done at USM is focusing its efforts on eradicating them before it’s too late.

Erica Ferelli, a recent graduate of USM and intern at Manomet (an environmental research organization) is working with fellow alumnus Marissa McMahan, senior fisheries specialist at the company, to spearhead the development of a commercial green crab fishery in Maine.

Photos courtesy Marissa McMahan


Ron Peterson and Hector Ortiz '14, Engineering

Ron Peterson and Hector Ortiz graduated from the Department of Engineering at USM in 2014. Today, they’re making waves at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Maine’s famed naval powerhouse, which employs 5,700 workers designing and building some of the world’s most sophisticated ships.

USM Lewiston-Auburn Campus

8. Getting them back on their feet

USM's new Occupational Therapy clinic: Learning by helping

Students in the Master of Occupational Therapy program are gaining authentic, real-world experience in the field through a new, free clinic at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College.

Eventually, all of the popular program’s 70-plus students will get the chance to be part of the USM-LAC Community Clinic, which formally opened in March. Working with Lewiston-area physicians and therapists, the clinic offers specialized therapy to people who either have no insurance or have exhausted their benefits.

9. $49 million workforce bond passes

$49 million goes to University of Maine System for workforce development initiatives

Maine voters on Nov. 6 approved a historic investment in Maine's public universities: Question 4, a $49 million bond package to increase massive workforce development capacity — with the ultimate goal of attracting and retaining students to improve and strengthen Maine’s future workforce.

Of that $49 million, $25 million will be directly invested in the University of Southern Maine’s three campuses, supporting workforce development and job creation in critically-needed areas. These include:

  • Educating more nurses to work in rural Maine.
  • Ensuring graduates have skills for a global economy.
  • Expanding career services.

student spotlight

Olivia Mayo '19 competes at Miss America

Photo courtesy Olivia Mayo.

Olivia Mayo, a fourth-year Communication and Media Studies student, was crowned Miss Maine in June. In September, she competed in Miss America 2019 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While the 21-year-old from Minot, Maine didn't take home the crown, she's worked her way around Maine spreading her social impact initiative, “Love Doesn’t Hurt,” which takes a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Olivia Mayo '19 paints dormitory halls at the YMCA of Southern Maine in Portland.

Mayo also participated in the 9th Husky Day of Service, during which nearly 300 members of the USM community donated 1,200 hours of service at more than 20 organizations in the Greater Portland and Lewiston-Auburn areas, including the American Red Cross, Preble Street, Lots to Gardens, the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and the Maine Veterans Home, among several others.

10. Telling Forgotten stories

Artist-in-residence Daniel Minter explores forced evictions from Malaga Island

Minter’s exhibition recalls the complex story of Malaga Island, a small island on the coast of Maine that had been a community of mixed-race fishermen and small subsistence farmers. In 1912 the State purchased it, and under orders of the governor, forcibly evicted the community, removing the buildings and even exhuming their cemetery — erasing their very existence.

"Our physical home is shallow whereas the depth of our inner home cannot be measured."

Known for his visual storytelling, Minter recalls this story with paintings, assemblage, and a small house in the gallery filled with historical photographs and archeological artifacts relaying a sense of place, loss, emptiness and wholeness. Minter’s artwork reflects abiding themes of displacement and diaspora; ordinary/extraordinary blackness; spirituality in the Afro-Atlantic world; and the (re)creation of meanings of home.

All artwork by Daniel Minter.

This year was transformative for the University of Southern Maine, but it wouldn't be the same place without the students, faculty and staff who make US The University of Everyone.

This has been a project of the Office of Public Affairs at the University of Southern Maine.

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