UM ties volunteerism to business scholarships

Posted March 29, 2009, at 6:52 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The pursuit of a master’s degree requires hard work, diligence and focus. For some prospective University of Maine business school students, a graduate degree will come with an added challenge — volunteerism.

Under a pilot program devised by businessman Ed Keefe and John Mahon, dean of the UM College of Business, Public Policy and Health, students completing their UMaine undergraduate degrees in May 2006 or later would, if accepted, be eligible for scholarships in the university’s Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Accounting programs.

The scholarships amount to a 25 percent tuition discount.

To be eligible, MBA and MSA students must enroll full time and commit to 10 hours a week of service to the Maine Business School or in community outreach programs.

“The idea behind it was for individuals who are receiving a break to give something back to both the community and the college in some way,” Mahon said.

Volunteer opportunities within the college include serving as research and teaching assistants under the leadership of Nory Jones, director of graduate business programs. In the community, students can volunteer with groups such as Habitat for Humanity, the troop greeters at Bangor International Airport, and at homeless shelters.

In-state tuition for the 42-credit program totals nearly $15,000. A 25 percent discount would be almost $3,800. Out-of-state tuition is higher, so those scholarships will be larger.

The maximum number of students to be approved for the tuition discount has yet to be determined. The program will likely phase out when the economy recovers.

Mahon said he and Keefe, a UMaine graduate who is the chief financial officer of MC Venture Partners in Boston, felt recent graduates would be targeted for layoffs first because of the last-hired, first-fired principle.

“One option [after a layoff] is to try to look for a job, but let’s be honest, the economy is not exactly percolating along now,” Mahon said. “Another option is, I’ll go back to school and improve my skills to be more credible in searching for a job.”

Mahon said the graduate school can accommodate an increase in students. There are now 80 students in the program, he added.

For details, call the graduate school at 581-1995 or go to www.umaine.edu/business.

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