President Cummings announces $1 million gift at Fall 2019 Opening Breakfast

USM President Glenn Cummings speaking at a podium in the Costello Sports Complex during the 2019 Opening Breakfast.

University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings announced a new $1 million gift and discussed the university’s commitment to inclusion, equity and justice at USM’s Fall 2019 Opening Breakfast, held August 29th in the Costello Sports Complex on the Gorham Campus.

The University of Southern Maine Foundation received the gift from the Peter and Paula Lunder family through their charitable organization, The Lunder Foundation. The gift will expand the Lunder Scholars program, which provides need-based aid to USM undergraduate and graduate students from Maine.

“We are very pleased to make this gift to the scholarship fund, which will provide greater access for deserving students to the quality education offered at USM and to the career opportunities made possible by a USM degree,” Peter and Paula Lunder said in a prepared statement.

Peter and Paula Lunder

The Lunder Scholars Endowed Fund was established in 2002 with the purpose of supporting Maine residents with demonstrated financial need, with preference given to former employees of Dexter Shoe Company and their children. The Lunders’ recent gift will significantly increase the number of scholarships that can be awarded to USM students through this program.

Since its inception, the Lunder Scholars program has supported hundreds of Maine students with funds to pursue their degree at the University of Southern Maine. During the 2018-19 academic year, 83 outstanding USM students received financial support through the Lunder Scholarship program.

Cummings praised the “great gift” as it enhances the university’s mission to offer an affordable, high quality education.

The announcement came amid the annual breakfast event, which gathers together more than 500 faculty and staff from all three campuses for an update on the state of the university.

Cummings used the event to rededicate the university to its values of equity, responsiveness, respect and integrity.

“As we go forward, we will be moving to do a careful audit of where we are as a university on this whole issue,” he said. “We will be announcing soon a new director of intercultural student engagement, with an expansion of resources in that area. We will be hiring a director of equity, inclusion and social justice.”

Cummings also asked everyone at USM to re-examine their own feelings.

Students and staff seated at tables during the 2019 Opening Breakfast in the Costello Sports Complex.

“I ask you to think of the journey as an internal experience, of getting closer, deeper, more compassionate and more understanding about each other. That is not as easy as it seems.” Cummings said. “It is part of the mission of this great university that every student, every staff member and every faculty member must feel that they matter, they belong and they feel at home.”

Following the event, attendees toured the newly remodeled Brooks Dining Hall on the Gorham Campus.

The $2 million renovation expanded the number of seats in the dining hall and added a number of new amenities:

Some of the new renovations in the Brooks Dining Hall
  1. A health and wellness station provides a full salad bar, a made-to-order deli with local meats and breads and a variety of other other foods including smoothies.
  2. A gas-fired brick oven at the center of a pizza station makes made-to-order pastas.
  3. A new stir-fry kiosk features a giant wok where a chef prepares made-to-order meals, varying in styles from Asian to Mexican.
  4. A You-Cook area allows students to prepare their own meals with help from a Sodexo chef.
  5. There is also be a Simple Servings station with foods catering to students with a variety of food allergies and a pantry, with prepackaged foods available to students with specific requests.

Read more about the event in the Portland Press Herald, and on the WCSH-TV site.