The University of Maine at Presque Isle held a press conference on Nov. 7 to announce the establishment of the first professorship created especially for UMPI faculty members. The Donald and Linda G. Zillman Family Professorship, established with annual proceeds from a designated fund at the Maine Community Foundation, will be awarded every two years beginning this year to an UMPI faculty member to assist in research and faculty development.
Joining UMPI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Sonntag for the Nov. 7 announcement was Don Zillman, former UMPI President and Edward S. Godfrey Professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law, and Dr. Chunzeng Wang, UMPI Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, who is the first recipient of the Zillman Professorship. The event was held in UMPI’s GIS Lab, where Dr. Wang conducts a significant portion of his research.
“Many times when he was president here, Don Zillman stressed that our faculty are what distinguishes us as a university and sets us apart from other institutions. Faculty work in the classroom, the community, and the lab, field, or studio demonstrates our commitment to the public good, our students, and the public trust,” Sonntag said. “With that in mind, we worked hard over the last six years to increase support for faculty scholarship and faculty work in our community. Don and Linda’s generosity and commitment to public higher education now allow us to advance this commitment into the future and beyond what current budget allows. I fully expect this gift will pay dividends in faculty contributions well into the future. Dr. Wang—an exemplar of an UMPI faculty member—is the perfect choice to be the inaugural recipient of this award.”
This is the University’s first rotating professorship, and Zillman explained that the choice to endow it came directly from his and his wife Linda’s admiration of the best of the UMPI faculty.
“The expectations of the excellent faculty member at a campus like UMPI are high and diverse,” Don Zillman said. “As teachers and mentors, the faculty members need to be wise and creative in the classroom and also assist outside the classroom on topics ranging from curricular planning to career choices. As scholars, they write and create for a world-wide academic and professional audience. As community leaders, they bring their disciplinary expertise to everything from community events to consultation with local businesses, governments, and non-profits. And they do this all at salaries that are modest at best. Our hope is that others will step forward to recognize the dedicated UMPI faculty with the establishment of future professorships.”
Two other reasons also motivated the Zillmans’ gift; first, the gratitude the Zillmans and so many members of their families owe to public higher education over the last century. Don and Linda Zillman hold a total of five degrees from public universities. Both of their fathers, Ted Zillman and Bob Goforth, also are public university graduates. So are both of their brothers, Dick Zillman and Tom Goforth. In addition, Dick’s wife Mary Revell Zillman is a public university graduate, Dick and Mary’s children Chandler and Hallie are public higher education graduates, and both Ted and Helen Zillman served the University of Wisconsin in numerous ways for 40 years. All of the extended Zillman family have benefitted enormously in their careers and lives from their access to high quality and low cost public higher education and Don and Linda Zillman saw this as a fitting way to give back.
The second motivation for establishing the professorship, cited by Linda Zillman, was the great fondness she and Don have for UMPI.
“The University exemplifies what good public higher education should be,” she said. “With ready access to first-generation-to-college students, low costs of education, high quality educational programs, superb faculty and close community involvement, UMPI is a marvelous asset for the State of Maine and for Aroostook County. It was our pleasure to be a part of the campus for six wonderful years. We hope we were able to enhance those public education virtues and are pleased to be able to do so in the coming years through this professorship.”
So far, the professorship has allowed Dr. Wang to conduct field geologic mapping around the Norumbega Fault Zone in the Horseback and Chemo Pond area of central Maine. Among a number of new findings, he and his student assistant Jared Dickinson found the “Eddington granite stock” (named after the town of Eddington by Wang), and he and his students have also mapped more independent granite dikes within the Norumbega Fault Zone. The new discoveries will change the current Maine state geological map.
“Being the first Zillman Family Professor is the greatest honor I’ve received since coming to UMPI,” Dr. Wang said. “The professorship provides excellent funds for doing high-quality research, fostering scholarship, and helping my program grow. With the professorship, I am sure I will be a better scientist and teacher and all of that is good for the University.”
In addition to his fieldwork, the professorship is allowing for several other opportunities, from conference presentations to publications to the establishment of a seminar series. Wang presented his new research results at the Geological Society of America annual conference held in Denver, Colo., in late October. Wang is working on a manuscript about the Norumbega Fault Zone for publication, and a research paper co-authored by Wang on one of his Chinese projects funded by the China National Natural Science Foundation was recently accepted for publication in the international journal Ore Geology Reviews. His Zillman Professorship has also founded a new “Lunchtime Science Seminar Series” at the University.
“The selection of Professor Chunzeng Wang as the first Zillman Family Professor delights us and honors the Professorship,” Don Zillman said. “Chunzeng truly does it all. He is a fine teacher and mentor. His scholarly work and service to the community range from funded research in geology in his native China to publications in international journals to projects all around Aroostook County. And, Chunzeng would be the first to tell us that many of his UMPI colleagues do just as much. We look forward to seeing them honored in subsequent Zillman Professorship appointments.”