THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE in Orono will be the largest beneficiary of the Harold Alfond Foundation’s historic investment in Maine’s public universities.
In October, the foundation, established by its namesake in 1950, announced it would be providing more than $500 million in grants to Maine people and institutions. The grants are intended to grow Maine’s workforce and economy and to support quality healthcare. The Alfond grants include a commitment to the University of Maine System (UMS) of $240 million, the largest gift ever made to a public higher education institution in New England and the eighth-largest gift ever made in the U.S. to a public higher education institution.
The Alfond commitment to UMS will cover a 12-year period, targeting faculty development, student support, innovative collaborative degree programs, and economic and workforce partnerships that engage the public and private sectors.
“Our investment in the University System is the largest single gift in the history of the foundation and deservedly so,” said Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation. “The System and its universities have a terrific leadership team and that leadership is setting an exciting strategic direction that commits our state’s largest education and workforce development asset to student success, partnership, and greater prosperity for the people of Maine.”
UMS leaders said they will leverage the Harold Alfond Foundation’s transformative gift to secure an additional $170 million in matching funds over the next 10 years from private, state, and federal sources, resulting in $410 million total investment in Maine’s public university system.
“Maine is receiving a transformative, unprecedented investment in its people and its future from the Harold Alfond Foundation,” said UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “We are extremely grateful for the Harold Alfond Foundation’s commitment to Maine’s public universities.”
Elements of the Harold Alfond Foundation’s UMS commitment include:
- $90 million for UMaine athletic facilities, providing support to maintain excellence in the state’s only Division I athletics program, advance gender equity, and provide a preferred destination for high school sports championships, large academic fairs and competitions, and community events. The foundation emphasized that all of the university’s students and people from throughout Maine will be able to use the state-of-the-art athletic and convening venues on the Orono campus.
- $55 million for the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center in Portland, which is home to UMaine’s Master’s in Business Administration program. These Alfond funds will support scholarships; integrated program development across business, law, public policy, and graduate engineering; and a state-of-the-art building on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus to house the Maine Center programs and Maine Law and to serve as a center for collaboration and engagement to help attract and strengthen the Maine economy.
- $75 million for a multi-university Maine College of Engineering, Computing, and Information Science. Cooperatively led by UMaine, the initiative will extend the availability of UMaine graduate engineering programs offered in Portland; provide additional undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Southern Maine; expand pathways into the statewide college from all UMS universities; provide new opportunities for shared programs, interdisciplinary structures and partnerships; and fund further renovations to UMaine’s engineering education infrastructure in Orono alongside the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center currently under construction.
- $20 million for student success and retention, including three programs to be piloted at UMaine and expanded across the University of Maine System that include research learning opportunities for first- and second-year undergraduate students; a gateways to success initiative to expand learning assistance and curricular redesign to reduce failure rates and improve retention in “gateway” STEM courses; and a pathways-to-careers program to expand access to credit-bearing internships and other experiential learning opportunities Systemwide.
“This investment will have a far-reaching impact throughout Maine and well beyond,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “It will enable the development of talent that will serve Maine for decades to come, grow the environments that foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and renew infrastructure for research and education.”
“This gift to the University of Maine System and to Black Bear Athletics once again shows how the Board of the Harold Alfond Foundation continues to honor Mr. Alfond’s passion for excellence in education and athletics,” added Ken Ralph, UMaine’s director of Athletics. “We will work hard every day to live up to the expectations Harold Alfond had for the university and its athletic department.” M
More information about the Harold Alfond Foundation and its $500 million initiative may be found at its website: haroldalfondfoundation.org/.