The University of Southern Maine Foundation launched the public phase of its Great University Campaign with a 400-person reception Sept. 21 at the Abromson Center on its Portland campus, followed by a program at Hannaford Hall, across the street from where a new student center is under construction.

Explaining the name of the campaign, USM Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Ainsley Wallace said, “Great cities and great regions are anchored by great public universities. Great universities are marked by both excellence and equity. The $46.5-million Great University Campaign is focused on both.”

The campaign has four priorities: scholarships and student supports, regional “programs of excellence” and two new buildings on the Portland campus – a student center and a center for the arts. More than 4,500 people have already contributed, raising $39.5 million.

“The success of this campaign will transform the student experience,” said Dr. Jacqueline Edmonson, USM’s new president.

A highlight of the event was an official announcement of the name of the McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success. Carolyn and Dick McGoldrick are longtime supporters who launched the Promise Scholarship program five years ago and have committed $2 million toward student scholarships and supports. They emphasized that, even though their name is going on the building, thousands of people have donated.

“It’s incredible how the community has stepped up,” Dick McGoldrick said.


“This is biggest and most ambitious fundraising effort in the university’s history,” said opera singer Megan Marino, a 2005 graduate of the Osher School of Music. “It’s such a momentous occasion.”

Marino, who sang “Pure Imagination” of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” fame, co-hosted the program with Emmanuel Mutshalla, a Promise Scholar in his final semester as a mechanical engineering major.

“USM invested in me when I had nothing,” said Mutshalla, whose family sought asylum from South Africa in 2017. He finished high school, and the expense of a university education seemed insurmountable. His mother considered taking a second job as a janitor to pay the tuition while his father considered being an Uber driver to buy books.

“But then something miraculous happened,” he said. “An initiative was introduced here at USM that truly describes the family here – the Promise Scholarship – propelled by individuals who want to see us succeed. Four years down the road, I am graduating debt-free.”

The campaign launch program included an emotional four-minute film on the theme “Great Takes Grit” that showed the determination of five hard-working students: Nadine Bravo of Gorham (master’s in teaching and learning), Abigail Harris of Falmouth (psychology), Asa Meyer-Waldo of West Bath (jazz), Rona Scott of Beverly, Massachusetts (primary education), and Emmanuel Mutshalla’s younger brother, Joshua Mutshalla (political science and criminology).

For more information on the campaign and the link to the film, go to

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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