University of Southern Maine Receives $1.2 Million Gift from Avangrid Foundation
From left: University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy, USM Foundation President and CEO Ainsley Wallace, Muskie School of Public Service Associate Dean Dr. Firooza Pavri, USM President Dr. Jacqueline Edmondson, AVANGRID CEO Pedro Azagra, Eva Shepherd ’19
Portland, Maine – The University of Southern Maine Foundation has received a generous $1.2 million gift from Avangrid Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Central Maine Power’s parent company, AVANGRID. The gift honors the legacy of Maine business icon and 12th president of USM, David Flanagan, who died in October 2021, and is an investment in sustainability education.
Best known for his leadership at Maine’s largest utility during the 1990s, Flanagan was widely respected throughout his career as a go-to problem solver whose dynamic leadership brought new life to some of Maine’s most steadfast institutions such as Central Maine Power and USM. Many remember him as the face of CMP during the massive 1998 ice storm, which caused power outages across the region for nearly a month. A passionate conservationist, Flanagan was dedicated to environmental sustainability in his native state and served as chair of the Maine chapter of The Nature Conservancy, among other diverse areas of public service.
Avangrid Foundation’s investment will create the AVANGRID David Flanagan Endowed Professorship at USM’s Muskie School of Public Service. The endowed professorship will help USM attract and retain top faculty with public policy expertise to facilitate teaching and research in sustainability, energy, and climate transition with significance in Maine and beyond.
The gift will also establish the AVANGRID David Flanagan Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Sustainability at the Muskie School, which is celebrating 25 years as Maine’s preeminent public policy school. The scholarship will be available for exceptional graduate students who are enrolled in either the Master of Policy, Planning, and Management (MPPM) or Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs and who have shown an interest in and commitment to sustainability and Maine’s green future.
“We are honored to make this important investment in Maine’s future in the name of a transformative leader who made a profound and lasting contribution to the state he loved,” said AVANGRID CEO Pedro Azagra. “Through this partnership between AVANGRID, USM, and the Muskie School, we can help elevate sustainability as a field of study and research, a critical focus for Maine. Together we can collaborate on research and programs that tie into future careers at AVANGRID, and the energy needs of our communities.”
Named president of the University of Southern Maine in 2014, Flanagan committed himself to making the difficult decisions that brought financial stability to the University during a challenging time. He sought to strengthen the University’s position as an essential partner in the economic, cultural, and civic life of southern Maine and the state’s largest economic and urban centers. Beyond his tremendous impact as president, Flanagan also spent several years as Chair of the Board of Visitors at the Muskie School of Public Service. Between 1986 and 1995, Flanagan also served as a member of the UMaine System’s Board of Trustees including a term as chairman.
Acknowledging the gift, USM President Jacqueline Edmondson said, “We are so honored to receive the Avangrid Foundation’s gift, which will help to open new career pathways for our students. Creating an endowed faculty position through this gift will serve to elevate the Muskie School’s reputation as a leader in sustainability policy, analytics, and practice. This will forward our goals, inspired by Senator Muskie, to be responsible stewards of our environment and our future.”
Former Governor John Baldacci commented, “David was a friend, and I had the distinct privilege of working closely with him over many years. He was one of Maine’s finest, and through his deep dedication to our state and its people, left behind a lasting legacy. This gift pays tribute to the communities he loved and the future generations he always sought to serve.”
The Avangrid Foundation gift will benefit USM’s distinguished Muskie School of Public Service, a center of academic and research excellence at the University. Environmental stewardship and sustainability are at the heart of the legacy of Maine’s esteemed Senator Edmund S. Muskie. Fifty years ago, Senator Muskie, as chairman of the Air and Water Pollution Subcommittee, ushered in landmark environmental legislation that became the Clean Water Act. His legacy continues today with exceptional graduate programs that enable students to explore careers that help our planet move toward a healthier and more sustainable future.
The Muskie School is nationally recognized for its signature master’s programs in Policy, Planning, and Management (MPPM) and Public Health (MPH). The Muskie School combines extensive applied research and a technical assistance portfolio with rigorous academic programs, including undergraduate degrees in geography-anthropology and tourism & hospitality. The school’s research arm is the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy, which annually represents nearly $20 million in grants and contracts focused on the critical issues of our society, including economic development and sustainability.
Avangrid Foundation’s investment will also help leverage matching funds from the Harold Alfond Foundation, where Flanagan served as a trustee from 2014 – 2021. The matching funds would support the continued development of the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center (The Maine Center), which includes the Muskie School, as well as University of Maine School of Law and Graduate School of Business.