On Tuesday, the Harold Alfond Foundation announced more than $500 million dollars of new grant investments in Maine institutions to help grow the state’s workforce and economy and support quality health care.
Included in that grant money is $240 million to the University of Maine System (UMS). According to the UMS, this is the largest ever to a public institution of higher education in New England and the 8th largest gift ever made to a U.S. institution of public higher education.
“Maine is receiving a transformative, unprecedented investment in its people and its future from the Harold Alfond Foundation,” Chancellor Dannel Malloy said. “And it comes at a time when we need optimism and an affirmation that we work best when we work together. Through the work to achieve unified accreditation for our universities and, more recently, to bring our students back to Maine in one of the safest fall reopenings in the country, we have remained focused on both the success, and public health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and the Maine communities where they learn, teach and engage in research.”
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The foundation’s investment in the UMS will be focused in four areas:
- $55 million for the Maine Graduate and Professional Center — Supporting 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 to be cooperatively led by the University of Maine — Providing additional undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Southern Maine, UMaine graduate engineering programs offered in Portland, expanded pathways into the statewide college from all UMS universities, new opportunities for shared programs, interdisciplinary structures and partnerships, and further renovations to UMaine’s engineering education infrastructure alongside the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center currently under construction.
- $20 million for student success and retention — Funding for 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 System-wide.
- $90 million for athletic facilities at the University of Maine and the well-being of Maine people — 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. 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 at the state’s flagship university in Orono.
“Yesterday, I spoke with UMaine President Ferrini-Mundy about how these grants will allow the university system to continue to build on the world-class education they provide to students, Senator Susan Collins said in a statement. “I applaud the Alfond Foundation for this exciting investment in Maine’s institutions of higher education, our young people, and our state’s future.”
According to the UMS, it 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.
“Our investment in the University System is the largest single gift in the history of the Foundation and deservedly so,” Harold Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell said. “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.”