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Alfond Foundation Awards $7.5 Million to New UMS Graduate Program

Irwin Gratz
Maine Public
Left to right, James Irwin, chairman of University of Maine System Board of Trustees; Gregory Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation; and the Maine Center's Chief Executive Elliot Cutler at a news conference in Portland Tuesday.

The University of Maine System's effort to establish a new graduate program took a big step forward Tuesday. The Harold Alfond Foundation has awarded the Maine Center for Graduate and Professional Studies a $7.5 million challenge grant.

That money will help the center expand its course offerings.  The idea is to create graduate degree programs that cross the lines between law, business and public policy courses.

Alfond Foundation Chairman Gregory Powell said the effort represented the kind of teamwork Harold Alfond he learned through sports.

"It will ally employers with academia and academia with employers," Powell said at a Portland news conference. "It will attract and educate students to move to Maine and stay here."

The Maine Center's chief executive, Elliot Cutler, says he believes a better educated workforce will lift Maine out of the "regional economic cellar." 

For now, the expanded course offerings will be conducted at the University of Southern Maine's Portland campus.  In years to come, the center might move to its own building somewhere in Portland.