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UMaine Announces $1 Million Naming Gift for the Emera Astronomy Center

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Emera Astronomy Center at the University of Maine will be held April 29 at 2 p.m.

The $5.2 million astronomy center is made possible with a $1 million naming gift from Emera Inc., the parent company of Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service.

The Emera Astronomy Center will be the future home of the Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory. Construction will begin by mid-May. The 7,400-square-foot center, with adjacent 618-square-foot observatory, could be open as early as fall 2014.

WBRC has teamed with planetarium specialists Kasian on the design of the facility, and Nickerson & O’Day, a Maine-based construction firm, has been awarded the bid for construction.

The site is at the intersection of Rangeley and Long roads on campus, adjacent to the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden.

“This is truly an opportunity for the UMaine community and the state to celebrate Emera’s investment in the University of Maine, the study and appreciation of Maine’s night sky, and the spirit of philanthropy,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “This facility, with its focus on education and outreach, will be a landmark in Maine, and it would not have happened without Emera’s generous gift.”

Expected to join President Ferguson for the groundbreaking ceremony will be Chris Huskilson, President and CEO, Emera Inc., and Gerry Chasse, President and COO, Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service.

“Emera is proud to invest in the communities where we live and work. We’re also working to make energy cleaner, so the center’s use of geothermal heat pumps is a great example of renewable energy use,” says Chris Huskilson.

The groundbreaking event also celebrates the investment and vision of an anonymous donor who first proposed the astronomy facility to enhance the viewing of the night sky, and who provided $3.2 million in funding to help make the project a reality.

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 electric 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.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

WVII Reports on Ferguson’s Efforts to Make UMaine Green

President Paul Ferguson was mentioned in a WVII (Channel 7) report about the University of Maine being named a “top green school” for the fourth year in a row.

UMaine’s Paint, Plant and Polish Initiative Enters its Second Year

The University of Maine’s Paint, Plant and Polish Program, which began last year as a Presidential Initiative, continues to improve the UMaine campus as part of the Blue Sky Plan Pathway 5, chaired by UMaine alumnus John Rohman and co-chaired by Stewart Harvey, executive director of facilities and capital management services.

To improve campus infrastructure and appearance, UMaine President Paul Ferguson initially reallocated approximately $2.5 million. This funding was derived from energy cost-savings realized through improved utility and fuel contracts, increased campuswide efficiencies, as well as overall cost reductions on a one-time basis. Paint, Plant and Polish now will be sustained annually by approximately $320,000 from the newly endowed Hosmer Fund in the University of Maine Foundation.

This first year included more than a dozen campus buildings and academic areas identified as improvement and deferred maintenance priorities by the deans of UMaine’s colleges, including the Honors College, as well as staff of Facilities Management. More than $1.6 million is earmarked for classroom upgrades and improving accessibility, and approximately $800,000 will be directed for painting and minor maintenance to preserve the integrity of campus buildings, including UMaine’s “legacy assets.” Much of the work began last summer and employed numerous local Maine painting and construction companies, as well as elevator, furniture and equipment suppliers.

Paint, Plant and Polish is a four-pronged approach to infrastructure improvement, focusing on classroom upgrades, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades, energy-saving initiatives and painting projects. Many are aimed at addressing deferred maintenance that has resulted from decades of budget cuts. All will improve the quality of life for students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus, according to Janet Waldron, UMaine’s senior vice president for administration and finance.

“How the campus looks really matters,” Waldron says. “We have a beautiful campus with legacy buildings. The benefit of these investments is improved aesthetics, higher quality classrooms, more accessible facilities, and an enhanced impression of campus for visitors and prospective students.

“Proper stewardship of our infrastructure is important, but also because it makes financial sense. Maintenance costs quadruple if not timely executed,” Waldron says. “Facilities Management is pleased to partner in the initiatives of the Blue Sky Project to care for UMaine’s irreplaceable campus assets, such as Fogler Library.”

Among the buildings slated for improvements:

In addition to the projects associated with the Paint, Plant and Polish Program, several other capital projects are under way that will significantly enhance the UMaine campus, including a $5.2 million Astronomy Center in 2013. Other capital improvement projects:

Regular updates on projects in the Paint, Plant and Polish Program, as well as other major projects associated with Pathway 5 to promote our stewardship of place at UMaine can be found on the Blue Sky Implementation website.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Portland Press Herald Reports on $7.9 M Donation to UMaine

The Portland Press Herald reported on a $7.9 million donation received by the University of Maine from the estate of 1958 graduate Thomas Homser.

Princeton Review Names UMaine to Top Green Schools List

The University of Maine has been named one of the top scorers in the annual “Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition,” and was one of only 16 profiled institutions named to its “Green Honor Roll” for receiving energy-efficiency and sustainability ratings of 99 —the highest possible score. (more…)


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UMaine News
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
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