The University of Maine’s new Engineering Education and Design Center will be named in honor of Skowhegan, Maine natives E. James “Jim” Ferland and Eileen P. Ferland, who donated $10 million to the project.
The announcement of the previously anonymous donors was made Sept. 12 during the UMaine Alumni Association 2019 Reunion, where Jim Ferland was celebrating his 55th class reunion.
The E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (EEDC) will house the Biomedical Engineering Program and Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as teaching laboratories for mechanical engineering technology, and provide space for all UMaine engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects.
The Ferlands’ gift in March 2018 helped the University of Maine Foundation set a record for giving totals — $17.4 million in private support from more than 350 individuals, corporations and foundations. They include the Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation, which made a $1.5 million donation.
More than $66 million of the $75 million to $77 million project total now has been raised. Groundbreaking for the center is planned in early 2020, with anticipated completion in 2022.
Jim Ferland received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at UMaine in 1964 and began his career as an engineer with the Hartford Electric Light Co., a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities in Connecticut. He became president of Northeast Utilities in 1983.
In 1986, Jim Ferland was recruited by Public Service Enterprise Group, where he served as chairman, president and CEO. He retired in 2007, making him the longest-serving CEO in the industry.
The EEDC project is part of UMaine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign, which has raised over $182 million, led by the UMaine Foundation.