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$240 million donation will help build facilities in Univesity of Maine system

Oct. 9, 2020
Much of the gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation will help pay for construction of a new graduate center and law school at the University of Southern Maine.

The University of Maine System has received a $240 million donation that will be used for systemwide investments in facilities, academics and athletics.

The Kennebec Journal reports that much of the gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation will be spent on the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland.

University of Southern Maine (USM) President Glenn Cummings says the gift will help with the construction of a new graduate center and law school and expand the school's engineering program as part of the development of a multi-university College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science.

The Maine Center building on the USM campus has an estimated cost of $70 million, up to $40 million of which will come from the Alfond gift.

Tentative plans call for it to be built in the vicinity of Glickman Family Library and the Wishcamper Center and across the street from where USM is planning to break ground this spring on a $100 million residence hall and student center.

Maine Law Dean Leigh Saufley said the combined graduate and law building will give students better access to a cross-disciplinary education. It would replace the existing Maine Law building, which in 2017 was named one of the eight ugliest university buildings in the country by Architectural Digest magazine.

In addition to the engineering program and graduate center investments, the Alfond gift also includes $20 million for student success and retention programs across the system and $90 million for athletic facilities in Orono.

As a requirement of the gift, the system must secure $170 million in matching funds, which will be raised through private, state and federal sources. The result will be at least a $410 million total investment.

"We consider ourselves extremely lucky to have an organization like the Harold Alfond Foundation here in Maine," says James Erwin, chair of the UMaine System Board of Trustees. "Their generosity is strategic, but amazing, and we are just incredibly grateful and look forward to working with them."

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