SMCC receives a $500,000 donation from Joe VanWhy to benefit Hospitality students and transform the program

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – Joe VanWhy, owner and developer of several Maine hospitality properties, is donating $500,000 to the SMCC Foundation to benefit Hospitality Management students and bolster the program’s infrastructure for years to come.

“This incredibly generous gift from Joe VanWhy will immediately impact the Hospitality Management program and its students,” SMCC President Joe Cassidy said. “This program has a proven track record of positively affecting the lives of Mainers and the hospitality industry in general. This donation will enable the program to update its offerings, expand, and produce even more high-quality, top-performing employees who can fill the industry’s need for a highly-skilled workforce.

“I came to Maine in 1992 when I purchased the Eastland Hotel and immediately fell in love with the way of life and the people,” VanWhy said. “I’ve developed many properties in Maine over the last thirty years. The places and the people of this great state have helped me build a remarkable life. I felt I owed it to the people of Maine to give back.”

VanWhy chose this donation path for a very personal reason.

“I never had the opportunity to go to college. I’ve always felt that I’ve been missing that piece in my development,” VanWhy said. “This gift allows me to fill that hole a little while giving students who might not otherwise go to college the chance to attend SMCC and learn about the best industry around.”

President Cassidy said this gift deserved unique recognition.

“Joe’s commitment to SMCC and our students is special,” Cassidy said. “We are proud to announce that we are naming a program after an individual for the first time in the College’s history—the Hospitality Management program will become the Southern Maine Community College L. Joe VanWhy School of Hospitality. We can’t thank Joe enough for this transformational gift.”

Hospitality Management student John Chilton was eager to see what new opportunities this gift would bring to SMCC.

“SMCC is so affordable already so more of this gift can go to creating experiences for students in the program,” Chilton said. “The program does a fantastic job of bringing students into the field to see the industry firsthand and in real-time. Those outreach opportunities are valuable to help us see what is beyond what we think we can accomplish. Knowing this gift can give Hospitality Management students more opportunities for bigger goals is truly exciting.”

“I’m hoping this gift shows other donors and companies that SMCC is a great partner to find and develop the next workforce generation,” VanWhy said. “SMCC offers students educational pathways that allow them to go to work now or go on and find a path to more educational growth. I want others to see how they can help make SMCC, their lives, and the state of Maine an even better place.”

The SMCC Foundation raises money from businesses, civic groups, community leaders and individuals for academic programs, classrooms and equipment, and scholarships for deserving students. People can support the Foundation by calling (207) 741-5559 or visiting