A $1.5 million, three-year award from the Harold Alfond Foundation has established the Alfond Fund in the University of Maine Foundation, focused on creating a centralized fundraising structure for UMaine Athletics and continuing support of the football program.
“Through the years, Harold Alfond and the Harold Alfond Foundation have helped the University of Maine achieve excellence in Division I athletics for Maine, and for our fan base on campus, statewide and beyond,” says UMaine President Susan J. Hunter. “This newest award further underscores the leadership role of UMaine Athletics, and will be a game changer for fundraising and friendraising going forward.”
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People donate to the Foundation for various reasons and most are recognized publicly for their generosity. However, donors sometimes choose to remain in the background and watch their legacy at work from afar. Anonymity is very possible when working with the University of Maine Foundation. In fact, this is the case of the anonymous donors for the new Emera Astronomy Center at UMaine, the donors decided to step aside from the opportunity to name the center. It is somewhat fitting that the largest donor for the new UMaine astronomy center remains a very important, yet unknown entity somewhere in the shining stars.
The new Emera Astronomy Center will feature a planetarium dome 33 feet in diameter — the largest in the state — equipped with a state-of-the-art Definiti projection system. The new observatory’s 20-inch digital PlaneWave CDK20 telescope also will be the largest in Maine.
The center will include innovative exterior lighting designed to help preserve the dark-sky critical to enhanced stargazing. The center will be heated with geothermal heat pumps — the first building at UMaine to benefit from this energy efficient technology.
The Emera Astronomy Center will enhance UMaine’s role in outreach to K–12 students and promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The planetarium and observatory will complement the many other efforts at UMaine to attract students to scientific disciplines by inspiring children — and all those who are children at heart — about the science of astronomy.
The state-of-the art facility is expected to open in fall 2014.