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UMaine Today Magazine

University of Maine Foundation

Robert Daigle
Alumnus Robert Daigle,
chairman, University of Maine Foundation Board of Directors, and president/CEO, Camden National Corp., Camden, Maine

Photo Benjamin Magro

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Taking a Chance on the Human Spirit

To endow a scholarship is to be an entrepreneur, taking a chance on the human spirit, says Robert Daigle, chairman of the board of the University of Maine Foundation. Facilitating that form of entrepreneurship is a goal of the independent, nonprofit foundation, which provides donors with a broad base of funding alternatives to support teaching, research and scholarship programs at the University of Maine.

In recent years, the nation's economic downturn caused some of the greatest stress on the foundation's investment portfolio, notes Daigle. Fund balances declined in some cases to double-digit levels and new donor activity slowed. However, the foundation's commitment to the university remained steadfast, with only a single-digit drop in the overall payout. This was, in part, made possible by the allocation of unrestricted funds and the implementation of a very successful Adopt-a-Student campaign.

Now, with the rebound of the market in recent months, investment portfolio appreciation and improved donor confidence have returned, manifested by an increase in the number and size of gifts.

Foundations like the University of Maine Foundation play an increasingly important role today in supporting higher education by providing the structure and efficiency needed for the partnership between public universities and private constituencies to work. In addition, the foundation can raise money for the University of Maine above what is available through state funding and can be responsive in meeting important university goals.

Looking ahead, the role of the foundation will likely increase as state funding currently one-third of the university's budget continues to shrink. The ability of Maine's land- and sea-grant college to maintain its prominence will no doubt depend on the success of the University of Maine Foundation in compelling those with affection for UMaine, or those with a sense of obligation to help another generation, to include the university in their philanthropy.

"The University of Maine Foundation, through its proven track record and diversity of giving options, is uniquely positioned to facilitate this ideal," says Daigle. "To that end, it is not unreasonable to believe that in the year 2074, the foundation will be overseeing an $800 million endowment, enough to fulfill the entire scholarship needs of the University of Maine."


UMaine Today Magazine
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