UMaine Announces $6 Million Gift; Landmark Facility to Become Collins Center for the Arts

Contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO, Me. — Two of the University of Maine’s most generous benefactors have provided a major new gift to support the university. UMaine President Robert Kennedy announced the details this afternoon before an audience of 175 alumni and friends at the UMaine President’s House.

Richard R. and Anne A. Collins of Key Largo, Fla. have pledged a total of $6 million to support UMaine initiatives in the arts and athletics. The bulk of the gift, $5 million, will go toward renovations at the Maine Center for the Arts, to be renamed the Richard R. and Anne A. Collins Center for the Arts. The balance is dedicated to renovations at UMaine’s Memorial Gym.

Calling today “the beginning of a new era in the life of (UMaine),” President Robert Kennedy thanked the Collinses and praised them for their long history of generous giving to their alma mater.

“Dick and Anne Collins are among the University of Maine’s most generous and faithful donors,” Kennedy said. “What makes the Collins’ philanthropy so special is their incredible support for many aspects of the university, especially its performing arts and athletics programs.”

Dick Collins, who graduated from UMaine in 1959, grew up on a potato farm in St. Agatha. Anne Collins, a member of UMaine’s Class of 1961, was born in Belfast and raised in Farmington. They met as UMaine undergraduate students and have provided decades of loyal alumni service to UMaine. Dick Collins retired in 1992 after a successful career in the insurance industry, serving from 1980 to 1992 as President and Chief Executive Officer of American Life Insurance Company (ALICO), a subsidiary of American International Group. Under Collins’ leadership, ALICO prospered, increasing annual revenue from $200 million to $2.4 billion.

Speaking at today’s event, attended by daughters Jennifer and Pamela, Dick Collins described his family’s “deep roots” in Maine and at UMaine. He described his abiding affection for his home state, and the powerful allure of Maine summer vacations when the family lived in such places as Iran, Lebanon, Japan and Bermuda. Retirement, he said, brought the opportunity for “Anne and I….to re-establish our ties here in Maine and to become more involved in supporting the university we both love.”

Of particular interest, he said, was the possibility of helping establish “a nationally recognized facility for the performing arts” at UMaine.

“As part of an educational curriculum…the arts have always provided the foundation for young people to nurture their creativity, cultural understanding and self-expression,” Collins said. “The opportunity for us to help us expose young minds to the works of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart and the art of Picasso was just to compelling to pass up.

“And the added benefit in our minds,” he said, “is that the new center will not only be a draw for students and the university but that it can also be shared with all citizens of Maine and will allow them to enjoy a wider range of high-quality performing arts.”

Construction is underway on the arts center renovation, which will feature a spectacular new glass entrance, a renovated lobby, a new Hudson Museum on the second floor, an expanded Bodwell Lounge and a significant facelift in the Hutchins Concert Hall. The Collins gift brings total contributions and pledges to $10 million. Anne Collins will spearhead the effort to raise the remaining $1 million balance necessary to complete the project. The current projected completion date is January 2009.

The $1 million gift will support UMaine’s efforts to upgrade athletic facilities, including a planned $12.5 million Memorial Gym renovation. A renovated gym will create a new home facility for Black Bear basketball, while providing much-needed office and support space for the UMaine Dept. of Athletics.

Dick Collins, himself a former Black Bear basketball player, has also agreed to serve as chair of UMaine’s athletic facilities fundraising campaign, part of Campaign Maine, the university’s current $150 million, six-year comprehensive campaign.

“It is our sincere hope that (this gift) will inspire other alumni and friends of the university and those that love the great state of Maine to contribute to Campaign Maine and help secure the future of the University of generations to come,” Collins said.

Kennedy announced during today’s event that the Collins’ donation brings the campaign total to $70 million, approaching half the campaign goal in just over two years.

In welcoming the audience, UMaine Vice President for Development Barbara Beers heralded “a very important day in the history of the University of Maine….a day that marks the beginning of a new era of philanthropy supporting the state’s pre-eminent public university.”

Beers introduced H. Allen and Sally Carroll Fernald of Camden, the Campaign Maine co-chairs and longtime friends of the Collinses who spoke about their role in the campaign and the importance of that fundraising initiative. Prof. Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, shared his perspectives on the importance of philanthropy to UMaine’s academic mission. Sophomore civil engineering major Clarissa Livingston also spoke about her goals and her studies, providing those in attendance with a vivid example of the kind of outstanding UMaine student whose opportunities are enhanced through private giving.