The University of Maine System board of trustees formally accepted a gift of $2 million Monday from Alston D. “Pete” Correll, the former president and CEO of Georgia-Pacific Corp. and a former Old Town resident who earned two master’s degrees from the University of Maine.
The gift from Correll and his wife, Ada Lee Correll, who now live in Atlanta, will be used in the areas of energy research, ecology, environmental science, education and for a fund directed by UMaine President Robert Kennedy.
Pete Correll received two master’s degrees in engineering from UMaine, one in 1966 and another in 1967. He is now the chairman of Atlanta Equity, a private equity firm that invests in growth companies in sectors including business services, health care, specialty manufacturing, technology and retail.
The Corrells’ gift will be used to create a new Presidential Chair in Energy for which UMaine will recruit a national expert in offshore wind and tidal energy.
The gift also will support the creation of the Correll Professorship in Early Literacy, the first named professorship in the College of Education and Human Development. Ada Lee Correll taught in the Old Town school system while the couple was living in the area. She is chairwoman of Emory University School of Medicine’s $500 million fundraising campaign.
The donation will also be used for new graduate fellowships for each of UMaine’s five colleges and scholarship funds in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science. The graduate fellowships will be funded for five years rather than the typical three and come with a higher-than-average stipend.
The other use of the gift will be for the Kennedy-directed fund to address immediate priorities and enhance programs not covered by state funding, tuition or endowments.
“[The gift] will help us to enhance our teaching and research activities in areas of critical importance to our state and its future,” Kennedy said in a statement. “This gift represents a landmark moment for UMaine and we look forward to using it to reinforce the institution’s unique and vital role as the state’s research and graduate education university.”
Pete Correll led pulp and paper giant Georgia-Pacific for 14 years. In September 2008 he was the inaugural speaker of UMaine’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which was created to provide a forum for accomplished individuals with ties to Maine to share their personal stories and perspective on societal issues.
The Corrells were named “Philanthropists of the Year” last week by the Atlanta chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals for their work in health care, culture and education.
“It’s so much more fun to give money away than it is to earn it,” Pete Correll said in a release. “It makes us feel really good if we can have an impact on a certain number of people and give them a chance they wouldn’t have had otherwise. That’s as good a feeling as you can have in life.”