Photo by Olivia Shanack

During a virtual homecoming event hosted by the University of Maine Foundation, a big announcement was made that will benefit the University of Maine. Dan Churchill, a UMaine alumni from the class of 1963 and his wife Betty Churchill announced that they will be donating $6.5 million to UMaine.

The money will be distributed to different school programs chosen by the Churchills, with $1.5 million set to benefit professorships for the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA), and another $1.5 million going towards post doctoral internships and fellowships in the Climate Change Institution (CCI). The rest of the money will become a CCI student and faculty travel fund. Dan and Betty Churchill stated in a press release that they want UMaine students to be at the front of the climate change issue, as this is deeply important to them. They are strong advocates of higher education and have been involved with helping UMaine students for a long time. 

“Dan [Churchill] chairs the SPIA Board of Advisors. In this role, he is a spokesperson for the value of international education and a strong and effective advocate for students. He even stays in touch with them after they graduate and continues to mentor SPIA alumni and students,” the University of Maine Foundation’s website stated after the donation was announced. In addition, Dan Churchill has taken an immense interest in international affairs, as he and his wife are very well traveled.

“I had the pleasure of working with the Churchills most closely on this gift. Long story short it will be the fifth largest that the university has ever received. It will cement the longevity of what they’ve done for the university, and it will ensure that UMaine is on the forefront of climate change research for years to come,” Philanthropy Officer at the UMaine Foundation Matt Mullen said in a statement on Nov. 12.

The School of Policy and International Affairs was created in 2007, and offers a Master of Arts in global policy. SPIA offers many hands on experiences around the world. The Climate Change Institute has research sites all across the globe dedicated to researching climate change.

“This gift is a game changer in that it will allow SPIA to recruit multiple faculty members for a long time. It will also provide funding for SPIA and CCI students to get out in the world and it will ensure the longevity of both programs,” Mullen said about the benefits of the donation.

Dan Churchill attended UMaine and graduated in 1963, receiving a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics, and went on to Boston University to get his Master of Science in 1971 and an MBA in 1972. While at UMaine, Dan was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. The Churchills’ donation is appreciated by many in the UMaine community.