Faculty Five

UM foundation honors five professors
Friday, October 07, 2005 – Bangor Daily News

Bangor – Five University of Maine professors who helped the state understand that university research could improve the economy were honored Thursday by the University of Maine Foundation.

Dubbed the “Faculty Five,” George Jacobson, Stephen Norton, George Markowsky, Malcolm Hunter and David Smith undertook a grass-roots campaign, beginning in 1995, to travel across Maine spreading the word about the need for greater state investment in university research.

The professors received the first President Abram W. Harris Award during the University of Maine Foundation’s annual meeting at Wells Commons.

They will share a $5,000 prize for making an impact on UM which reflects the transformational change made by President Harris, who served the university from 1893 to 1901.

Efforts by the five professors helped encourage the Legislature to create the Maine Economic Improvement Fund, which allowed UM to hire world-class faculty and graduate assistants and provided seed money for research projects focused on areas that could have the greatest impact on the Maine economy.

In all, between 1998 and 2003, Maine voters approved bonds totaling $204 million directed toward higher education, particularly research and development.

External research and development funding has increased dramatically at UM from $20.3 million to more than $50 million – creating research jobs and fledgling companies that may fuel Maine’s economic growth into the future.

“We would be a very different institution today if it were not for the work of the Faculty Five,” UM President Robert Kennedy said in a written statement. “Like President Harris in his time, their efforts really were transformational. We have more patent activity, more license activity, more economic development than all the other research institutions in the state combined.”

The $5,000 prize, which will be awarded annually, was established in memory of Abram Winegardner Harris with an endowed gift to the University of Maine Foundation from his grandson, A.W. “Pete” Harris III, 50, and family friends.