Educational Leadership

Michael Boyd named an inaugural Shaw Innovation Fellow

Four University of Southern Maine graduate students have been named Shaw Innovation Fellows and will fulfill their passion projects, from analyzing vegetation in southern Greenland to creating a model studio apartment for Maine middle schoolers learning functional life skills.

A photo composite of the four inaugural Shaw Innovation Fellows

This is the first class of Fellows to be named since the program was launched in March with support from entrepreneur and USM alum David Evans Shaw ’76G, ’15H. 

“This first cohort of Fellows will have the opportunity for extensive mentoring as they work on their projects throughout the year. They will present their results/findings and recommendations in April at the Shaw Fellows Symposium, and we are excited to see how the outcomes of this program can make a demonstrable impact in the community,” said Jo Williams, Dean of the College of Management & Human Service. 

The Fellows will each receive a $5,000 stipend for their projects, as well as mentorship opportunities. Fellows will also serve as mentors themselves when they are matched with Promise Scholars who will provide research assistance

Fellowships last for one year. They are awarded to students whose projects demonstrate bold and innovative approaches to solving human, environmental, economic, and societal problems.

The inaugural Fellows are: 

Joanna Benoit, a Freeport resident earning her Certificate of Graduate Study in Geographic Information Systems through the Muskie School of Public Service. Using community engagement, GIS, and other tools, she will examine the long standing recreational use of private land and its economic impact.


Michael Boyd, a Falmouth resident earning his Certificate of Graduate Study in USM’s Assistant Principal Program through the School of Education and Human Development. Boyd is a Lewiston Middle School Functional Life Skills teacher, who will create an "in real life" environment, transforming a classroom into a model studio apartment where his students can learn food preparation, community interaction, and other living skills.


Izaak Onos, a South Portland resident in the Muskie School's Policy, Planning, and Management graduate program. Onos will use GIS and Remote Sensing software to complete a 20-year vegetation analysis of the Kujaata region of Greenland.


Caroline Paras, a Portland resident who is studying Tourism and Hospitality in the College of Management and Human Service. She will try to expand the “local” market for Maine food to New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, through the development of transformational agritourism and aquatourism experiences.  

Twenty students applied to be Fellows. Eight were selected as semifinalists and interviewed by the Advisory Board, which includes Shaw, members of the Shaw family, and University and community leaders. The final Fellows were chosen by USM faculty and staff.

New Shaw Innovation Fellows will be chosen every year at USM. 

The Fellowship launched with a $500,000 gift from David Shaw and members of the Shaw family. Shaw earned his MBA from USM in 1976 and received an honorary degree in 2015. He founded IDEXX Laboratories and is currently CEO of Black Point Group, a private investment partnership based in Portland. 

“My decision to pursue an MBA at USM several years into my working career reflected a recognition that the framework of business practices would be important in seeking the kind of innovative, value-creating, purpose-driven work that I envisioned,” Shaw said when the Fellowship was announced this spring. “I have found that attitude, persistence, adventurousness and courage are often the most important qualities for producing great outcomes and a fulfilling life. With this new program, we will help USM students better harness the power of these success factors.”