A $1 million gift to the University of Southern Maine will help provide need-based assistance for Maine residents by expanding an endowed scholarship program, the university announced Thursday.

Peter and Paula Lunder. University of Southern Maine.

The gift was made by Peter and Paula Lunder through their charitable organization, The Lunder Foundation, according to USM.

It will be used to expand the Lunder Scholars Endowed Fund, which was established in 2002 to support Maine residents who have a demonstrated financial need, with a preference given to former employees of the Dexter Shoe Company and their children.

“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,” the Lunders said in a statement.

Over the years the scholarship fund has supported hundreds of Maine students at USM. In 2018-19, a total of 83 students received financial support through the Lunder Scholarship program.

USM President Glenn Cummings praised the gift Thursday and said it will help enhance the university’s mission of offering an affordable, high-quality education.


The announcement came as part of a breakfast event opening the start of the school year, during which Cummings also spoke about the university’s commitment to equity, diversity and respect.

He said the university plans to announce soon a new director of intercultural student engagement and will be hiring a director of equity, inclusion and social justice.

“I ask you to think of the journey as an internal experience, of getting closer, deeper, more compassionate and more understanding about each other,” Cummings said. “That is not as easy as it seems. 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.”


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