The Harold Alfond Foundation has made an historic commitment of $240 million to the University of Maine System, the eighth-largest gift ever made to a U.S institution of higher education and the largest ever to a public institution of higher education in New England.
The foundation’s 12-year pledge will be focused on four areas, with significant funding allocated for USM.
- $20 million for Student Success and Retention — For System-wide programs that include research and 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.
- $55 million for the Maine Graduate and Professional Center — For constructing a state-of-the-art building on USM’s Portland campus to house the Maine Graduate and Professional Center programs, to serve as a center for collaboration and engagement, and to help grow and strengthen Maine’s economy. The gift will also support scholarships and integrated program development across business, law, public policy, and graduate engineering programs
- $75 million for a multi-university partnership in Engineering, Computing and Information Science — For providing additional undergraduate engineering programs at USM, UMaine graduate engineering programs offered in Portland, expanded pathways into the partnership 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. The gift will assist in the launch of a new USM degree program in industrial engineering as a complement to our historically strong programs in electrical and mechanical engineering that many Maine businesses rely upon for skilled employees.
- $90 million for athletic facilities at UMaine and for the well-being of Maine people — For maintaining excellence in Maine’s Division I athletic program, advancing gender equity, and providing a preferred destination for high school sports championships, large academic fairs and competitions, and community events. All UMaine students and people from all over Maine will be able to use the state-of-the-art athletic and convening venues.
The gifts were announced on October 8.
The magnitude of the 12-year funding from the Harold Alfond Foundation is a sign of the university system’s strength, said James Erwin, the chair of the UMS Board of Trustees.
“This is a huge investment in us and a vote of confidence in where we are going,” Erwin said.
USM President Glenn Cummings thanked the foundation and expressed his excitement.
“This is historic in multiple ways: historic for the State of Maine and the UMaine System,” Cummings said. “What you’re seeing in this grant is a statement of commitment to the whole system, not just to one university. The University of Southern Maine is very blessed to be part of this grant.”