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The state’s higher education community bade farewell to a living legend at the University of Maine at Farmington on Friday, August 19. Ron Milliken (pictured above in fall 2018), the longest-serving director of financial aid at a Maine college or university in recent memory, was celebrated for his 47 years of helping UMF students and their families afford a college education. Milliken, a 1975 graduate of Maine’s first public institution of higher education and a UMF parent, will retire in early September 2022.
Jared Cash, President and CEO of the Mitchell Institute, was among the featured speakers at the farewell event that was attended by more than 100 of Milliken’s colleagues, friends, and family members.
Cash, who oversaw UMF’s offices of Admission and Financial Aid during his tenure as Vice President of Enrollment and External Affairs, lauded Milliken for his thorough knowledge of federal financial aid policy and his commitment to staying abreast of the latest legislative developments in the field.
“It didn’t seem like there was a financial aid conversation in this state that didn’t happen where you weren’t at that table,” Cash told Milliken and attendees gathered in UMF’s Mantor Library. “You actually know everything about financial aid. Before (new legislation) is voted on down in D.C., you have an early tip on it. If ever I really needed to know what was happening in the complex world of student financial aid, you would probably have a five- to ten-page email to answer my question.”
Recounting the first time he met Milliken at a regional College Board conference, Cash told attendees that Leigh Campbell, the late longtime director of financial aid at Bates College, said of his UMF counterpart, “There’s the sage of our field. There’s the leader of our profession in Maine.”
In paying his highest compliment, Cash told the crowd that when it comes to colleagues, “You only get a Ron Milliken once in a lifetime.”
Cash and Milliken embrace following Cash’s remarks at the UMF-organized celebration. Recounting the first time he met Milliken at a regional College Board conference, Cash told attendees that Leigh Campbell, the late longtime director of financial aid at Bates College, said of his UMF counterpart, “There’s the sage of our field. There’s the leader of our profession in Maine.”
During the afternoon program, Milliken also received accolades from Christine Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at UMF, Joseph Toner, Assistant Director of Student Financial Aid at UMF, Will O’Shea, Associate Director of Financial Aid at Maine College of Art and Design and President of the Maine Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and Wendy Ault, Executive Director of MELMAC Education Foundation and former member of the University’s Admissions staff.
After UMF’s Merrill Center for Student Services staff closed the celebration by serenading him to “How Sweet It Is to Be Led by You,” a humorous and loving adaptation of the James Taylor classic, Milliken thanked attendees for “the parts you played in making this such a wonderful journey for me.”
“If ever you had to marry yourself to a goal or a cause, the cause of student aid is really part of the educational promise to our students,” he continued. “It is part of trying to make a future for people where their lives can be consequential, where they can do positive things towards the common good. That’s what each of us does. We do it in our own corners, we do it every day, we do it in compelling ways.”
Because of this shared effort, Milliken said, “My faith is unshaken in the power of education.”
Connie Smith (right), Director of Student Financial Aid at the University of Maine, congratulates her UMF counterpart.
Milliken embraces Christine Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at UMF, at the celebration of his 47-year career at the University.