In October, the Harold Alfond Foundation made a historic investment in Maine and its people with a $240 million commitment to the University of Maine System to bring transformative change to the state’s largest educational, research, innovation and talent development asset.
The investment in the University of Maine System is the largest ever to a public institution of higher education in New England and the largest gift in the history of the Harold Alfond Foundation. It was one of the foundation’s new grant investments in Maine people and institutions to help grow the state’s workforce and economy, and support quality health care, totaling more than $500 million.
Collaboratively, UMS will build on strong foundations at its universities and take effectiveness to new levels by implementing creative, innovative ideas and programs to serve the students and people of Maine.
The Harold Alfond Foundation’s $240 million commitment over the next 12 years recognizes how the University of Maine System’s first-in-the-nation unified accreditation, approved in June by the New England Commission on Higher Education, provides new opportunities for faculty development, student support and innovative collaborative degree programs to advance Maine’s economy and workforce in partnership with the public and private sectors.
“The University of Maine System is rising to meet the challenges of our state in a very big way. Through the initiatives we are supporting, it is perfectly poised to set new standards for how public higher education serves students and at the same time partners with employers in the pursuit of economic development and opportunity,” said Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation.
“It needs resources to do that and so we are betting big on its success and urging others to join us,” said Powell. “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.”
The University of Maine System will leverage the 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.
The foundation’s investment focuses on four areas:
- $20 million for student success and retention — funding for three programs to be piloted at the University of Maine and expanded across the 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.
- $55 million for the University of Maine Graduate & 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 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.
- $90 million for UMaine athletic facilities 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.