Harold Alfond Foundation Investing $240 Million to Bring Transformative Change to the University of Maine System

8th largest gift ever to an institution of public higher education follows the University of Maine System’s first-in-the-nation transition to a unified accreditation 

The Harold Alfond Foundation’s historic investment in Maine and its people includes 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 Alfond investment in the University of Maine System 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.

This commitment is a display of tremendous confidence in the faculty, staff and students of the University of Maine System. Collaboratively, UMS will build on strong foundations already in place 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. “Our investment in the University System is the largest single gift in the history of the Foundation and deservedly so. 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 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 Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “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.

“We are extremely grateful for the Harold Alfond Foundation’s commitment to Maine’s public universities,” Malloy said. “We’re ready to use these generous investments and the matching dollars they leverage to transform our academic collaborations and facilities, provide resources to faculty for development and innovation, support student success and provide scholarships, and work with state and global partners to accelerate workforce and economic opportunities for Maine. All of this honors the Harold Alfond Foundation’s 70-year legacy of service and generosity.”

“The Board of Trustees is incredibly appreciative of the Harold Alfond Foundation’s support for and confidence in the steps we have taken to provide Maine’s public universities with the leadership and strategic direction necessary for them to become an accessible, affordable, and responsive 21st-century leaders in education, research and workforce development,” said James Erwin, Chair of the UMS Board of Trustees.

“Given the right educational and experiential learning opportunities, Maine students and workers can compete with anyone in the world,” Erwin said. “With the Alfond Foundation’s historic partnership, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to become the high-performing statewide institution of public higher education Maine families, employers and community leaders need to overcome the state’s demographic and skills-gap challenges, and to participate fully in the rapidly changing knowledge economy.”

Harold Alfond Foundation $240 Million Investment

The Harold Alfond Foundation’s investment in the University of Maine System 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.

University of Maine System universities will be sharing additional details on these initiatives, including facility renderings and master plan updates, program expansions, new partnerships, faculty hires and other innovations in future announcements, and through engagements with university, community and industry stakeholders.


With the Harold Alfond Foundation’s historic commitment to transformative change in public higher education, the University of Maine System will shortly announce how the initiatives will be developed, beginning with discussions about the opportunities with interested faculty, staff and students. In the initial stages of this work, termed UMS TRANSFORMS, university and System leaders will be convening information sessions and open forums, identifying individuals interested in participating and establishing an implementation structure. University community input, continued conversation with the Harold Alfond Foundation, and engagement with other grantees and state partners will help to define outcomes and measures of success for the initial stages of the initiatives.

University Leaders Respond to the Harold Alfond Foundation’s Investment

University of Maine School of Law Dean Leigh Saufley

On behalf of the students – current and future – of Maine Law and the Graduate and Professional Center, we send our deepest gratitude to the Harold Alfond Foundation, not just for the extraordinary generosity demonstrated through this transformative grant, but also for the vision and support for collaborative and cross-disciplinary education.  The interplay of business, law, science, engineering, and policy has never been more important in Maine and this country.  The work already made possible through prior generosity of the Foundation has demonstrated the critical importance of educating the next generation of Maine’s business leaders, lawyers, policy makers, scientists and engineers across multiple disciplines, and this extraordinary gift will advance the reframing of graduate education in a way that will add immense value to Maine for generations to come.  

University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy

We are deeply grateful to the Harold Alfond Foundation for providing this extraordinary opportunity for transformation at the University of Maine and across the University of Maine System. This investment will have a far-reaching impact throughout Maine and well beyond. The UMS and other initiatives announced today 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.  

The investments in Black Bear athletics are an investment in Maine. They will strengthen and solidify the state’s only Division I athletics program and ensure gender equity. UMaine will have the facilities to be able to welcome schools and organizations from across Maine for athletic competitions and championships, and other statewide initiatives ranging from STEM to the arts.

The Alfond Foundation’s vision and leadership give us opportunities unlike any we have ever had to emphasize student success and retention; expand engineering, computing and information science education statewide at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in partnerships with K-12, higher education, and the public and private sectors; and help drive economic recovery and growth in Maine through the integration of business, law and public policy. I thank the Alfond Foundation for its confidence in our capabilities and potential to use this gift of unprecedented magnitude to transform our institutions and our state.  

University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings

The Harold Alfond Foundation has our community’s deepest gratitude for this historic gift to Maine’s flagship university, to the entire University of Maine System and to the University of Southern Maine.

The Foundation’s commitment will have a transformative and lasting impact on Maine students. The gift will allow our universities to add even greater value to our state’s workforce and will strengthen our graduates’ contributions to their communities. It’s especially wonderful to see the Foundation’s commitment to build new facilities for the Maine Graduate and Professional Center on USM’s Portland Campus and provide USM students with expanded scholarships. The Foundation’s investment will strengthen the Center’s ability to marshal programs in law, business, policy and public health to grow Maine’s economy. We will all gain from the Center’s ongoing service to Maine’s businesses and civic, legal and nonprofit organizations.

On behalf of the USM community, I thank the Harold Alfond Foundation for their confidence in our ability to realize the full potential of their investment and the magnitude of their generosity.

University of Maine Athletic Director Ken Ralph

Words cannot adequately convey our appreciation for the generosity of the Harold Alfond Foundation. 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. This grant will allow us to upgrade our facilities to improve the competitiveness of our Division I teams, advance our stated commitment to gender equity in our athletics programs, as well as create a destination for youth club programs and high school championship level events, cementing Orono as the premier destination in Maine for sports while drawing countless youth to our campus to enjoy the thrill of competing.

This grant will allow us to build out some new facilities and upgrade existing facilities. The full execution of our plan will positively impact all 17 of our varsity programs while also providing better facilities for our on-campus recreational sports. The spectator experience will also be enhanced so people can more easily make the decision to come to campus to cheer on their Black Bears.

Since the mid-’70s when Harold Alfond made a gift which would become Alfond Arena, the Alfond family has positively impacted generations of athletes in Orono. This new grant will allow us to enhance the Alfond legacy with the University of Maine and the Black Bears. We are humbled by the generosity shown by the Harold Alfond Foundation and will work hard every day to live up to the expectations Harold Alfond had for the university and its athletic department.