News & Events

UMPI announces Educator, Distinguished Alumni awardees

The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Alumni Association will honor two alumni with awards of distinction during Homecoming 2015 activities held during the Sept. 17-20 weekend. The annual alumni award presentations will be made during the Homecoming Alumni and Friends Brunch, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 10:30 a.m. in the Alumni Room, Campus Center.

Alumna Cynthia M. Jones will be honored with the Distinguished Educator Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has received ongoing recognition as an outstanding educator. This recipient may also have shown active or supportive involvement with the Alumni Association, support of the University, a successful career that reflects well on the University, and outstanding leadership qualities.

Alumnus James O. Donnelly will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has made long-term contributions to the Alumni Association or the University, or who has received professional recognition that has reflected positively on the University.

Cynthia M. Jones graduated from UMPI in 1979 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Working toward that degree as a young mother was no easy task, but completing it allowed her to secure a teaching position in the MSAD 20 (Fort Fairfield) school system, where she had a long and successful career. She served in several teaching positions, including Title 1, Grade 4, multi-age K-1, and Kindergarten. In addition to teaching, she served in several leadership positions, including teacher mentor, building leadership team member, and as part of a team of teachers who piloted programs and designed curriculum. She has also mentored many student teachers from UMPI over the years and has been a strong supporter of the University’s Education Program.

“Cynthia is the most committed teacher I know, always putting in extra effort and countless extra hours for the benefit of her students and colleagues,” Rebecca Woodman, MSAD 20 teacher and longtime colleague, said in nominating Jones. “Her passion for education is evident in the many projects, materials, and activities she incorporated into her classroom routine.”

This includes the recycling program she initiated that involved students collecting pop tabs from soda cans so they could see first-hand what ‘a million of something’ looked like, while simultaneously helping the community. It took many years for her classes to collect the first million tabs, and the second million was completed in four years.

Jones has been named the Teacher of the Year for MSAD 20 twice, most recently for the 2011-2012 school year. She has also been the recipient of MSAD 20’s “Apple Award,” which is bestowed upon teachers who regularly go “above and beyond” and serve as a role model to other educators. She retired from teaching in spring 2015, but has returned to the district this fall as a part-time pre-K teacher.

“Fort Fairfield is certainly fortunate to have her continuing to impact a new generation of children,” Woodman said in her nomination letter.

Also being recognized is James O. Donnelly, who graduated from the University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1990. During his time at UMPI, he served as the Student Senate President, President of his fraternity Kappa Delta Phi, and was involved in several other campus activities. He is expected to graduate from Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University with his MBA later this year. He graduated from the Leadership Maine Program (Gamma class) through the Maine Development Foundation. He has graduated from the New England School of Banking at Williams College and the American Community Banker’s National School for Senior Management at Villanova University.

Donnelly serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Retail Delivery at Bangor Savings Bank, where he oversees all retail interaction, including the bank’s extensive branch network, retail operations and Customer Care Center. He previously worked for two other banks in his 24-year career in banking.

He started his banking career in 1991 as a management trainee. He has worked as a teller, new accounts, branch manager, small business relationship manager and a middle market relationship manager before advancing into executive management.

Donnelly has had an important impact on his community, the region and the State. He serves on several boards and charitable groups, including the Board of Eastern Maine Health Systems, and the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. He is the Chairman of Maine Bankers Legislative Committee, and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of America – Mutual Bank Council. He has previously served as chairman of the State Ethics Commission, Chairman of the Loring Development Authority, and Chairman of United Way of Eastern Maine campaign. He has coached youth sports, including little league baseball, and PAL Basketball, in the Brewer area for more than a decade, ending his time coaching in 2012.

He also served in the Maine Legislature from 1991-98, representing Presque Isle and Mapleton in House District 145 and leading his caucus as Minority Leader in the House in the 118th Maine Legislature. He was also the youngest member elected to the 115th Legislature and the Youngest Minority Leader in the Country in the 118th. While in the Legislature, he was a tireless worker in support of higher education.

He lives in Brewer with his wife, Melissa and their three sons.

The Alumni Awards will be presented to Jones and Donnelly at the Sept. 19 Homecoming Brunch. During the event, the classes of 2011, 1991 and 1956 also will be honored. For more information about this event, please contact Rebecca Stepp at rebeccastepp69@gmail.com.