As USM Goes, So Goes Maine
As USM Goes, So Goes Maine
Bob Blackwood '78 '82 believes a lot is riding on the success of the University of Southern Maine. A South Portland native who received his BA from Bowdoin and then served in the US Army before returning home, Bob looked to USM to further his education. He views the university as nothing short of critical to the future of Maine.
"The Southern Maine region is the engine of Maine's economy," explains Bob. "Our state can't be successful unless our region is successful and for that we need a thriving university." Bob and his wife Jill '83 have both done their part to help realize this goal.
According to Bob, one reason USM is so important to the business community is accessibility. "The school's campuses are within reach of a large percentage of Maine's population," he says. "This makes it easier for people to get the credentials they need to move ahead." Bob and Jill Blackwood are a case in point. Both attended USM as nontraditional, part-time students. Bob earned his MBA from the School of Business in 1978 and a BS in Accounting in 1982; Jill earned her MSED in Literacy Education in 1983.
"We both feel our programs were excellent," says Bob, who spent his professional life in the banking field. He retired in 2009 as an SVP at Norway Savings Bank. Jill's career has been in teaching and school administration, including serving as Principal of Riverton School in Portland and later Assistant Superintendent of Portland Public Schools.
Both Bob and Jill wished to give back to USM in a significant and meaningful way, so in 2000 they established the Blackwood Family Endowed Scholarship Fund. Income from the fund is used to assist graduates of South Portland High School who have been accepted for admission or are enrolled at USM. "It was a way to show support for both USM and my high school alma mater," explains Bob, whose children are the third generation of Blackwoods to graduate from South Portland High.
Recently, Bob and Jill went a step further and included a bequest for USM as part of their estate plans. Their bequest will benefit the Blackwood Family Scholarship.
The Blackwood's bequest is the latest in a long history of support for USM. A past and current president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Bob has worked on numerous USM fund-raising campaigns. He served as the founding chair and is still a member of the Advocacy Steering Committee; he is also a past chair and current member of the Board of Visitors. His tireless commitment to USM earned him the Distinguished Achievement Award at Commencement in 2011. Previously, Bob was a recipient of the Hilltop Award, one of the Alumni Association's top honors. Jill also supports USM as a member of the External Advisory Council of the School of Education and Human Development.
Over the years, Bob and Jill Blackwood's active involvement as USM alums has provided insight into the challenges facing the institution. It has also deepened their conviction that the university's success is vital to the region. As Bob says, "USM is an important resource for the growth and development of our region. It deserves the support of alumni and the whole community because USM's future is critical to the future of Maine."
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