President's remarks groundbreaking Nov 2013

KVCC President Richard Hopper

Remarks November 20 2013/Alfond Campus

 

Ground breaking for the new KVCC

 

Good afternoon. What a perfect, crisp, clear day for this wonderful event. In my family we call these sorts of days “Maine days.”

Today is indeed a Maine Day.

It is my pleasure to welcome here today a room of supporters and friends of Kennebec Valley Community College.

  • Speaking with me today is Greg Powell, President of the Harold Alfond Foundation. Welcome Greg.
  • I see a few other members of the Foundation here today, Bill Alfond and Travis Cummings. Welcome.
  • Also speaking today is Trustee Carol Epstein, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Maine Community College System. Welcome.

Carol has kindly offered to serve in the stead of Board Chairman Robert Clark who had an unforeseen emergency at his home in Fort Fairfield today and will unfortunately not be able to join us. We sincerely hope that Bob’s situation is nothing grave. I hope to get an update later on.

I would also like to offer a warm welcome to:

  • The members of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees;
  • Dr. John Fitzsimmons, President of the Maine Community College System and his staff;
  • Representatives from the national legislature – here we have with us representatives from the offices of Senator Collins, Senator King, Congressman Michaud, and Congresswoman Pingree;
  • State Senator from Somerset, Rodney Whittemore;
  • State Representatives Craig Hickman, Stanley Short, Karen Kusiak, and Dick Campbell;
  • Structural architects from SMRT;
  • Sign architect from Building Envelope Specialist;
  • Representatives from Benchmark Construction;
  • Members of the KVCC Foundation;
  • Members of the KVCC Building Committee comprised of over 15 staff, faculty, and students who have provided essential inputs;
  • Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, represented by our very good next-door neighbor, Dr. Glenn Cummings, Executive Director of Maine’s first charter school;
  • Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Kim Lindlof;
  • And Dr. Steve Mulkey, the President of another good neighbor Unity College;
  • Also here is my predecessor Dr. Barbara Woodlee who I am very happy to see back with us today.

Welcome everyone.

Today, we have been given the opportunity to create an extraordinary place: a special place

that will carry a special name.

This creation is being embodied in a sign.

Today we unveil the sign of the new Kennebec Valley Community College campus, heretofore

known as the Harold Alfond Campus of KVCC.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for mid-Maine to establish a second campus for KVCC that

will allow the college to develop new academic programs, grow student activities, expand

community engagement, and eventually serve a greater number of education seekers in the

region who lack convenient, affordable access to high-quality education.

With the acquisition of nearly 600 acres of the former Good Will-Hinkley School – including a

120-acre organic farm - this is also an extraordinary opportunity to leverage the natural and

human endowments of mid-Maine: agriculture, timber, the outdoors, and ingenuity.

This new 600-acre Harold Alfond Campus is a forward-looking academic facility, which will carry

the name of a man who clearly shared the values of our state, the values our region, the values

of the college, and the values of our entire community: Education, Health, and Human Development.

Thanks to this new campus KVCC will be better positioned to offer a wider range of opportunities to a broader cross section of our population.

These opportunities will be available to our friends, family, neighbors, and to those who love this region, its warmth and its bounty.

Harold Alfond was a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist – which is shorthand for “an incredibly generous guy.”

The Harold Alfond Campus will be a truly remarkable place.

Here students, faculty, staff, and the community will be able to unleash and achieve the most remarkable changes in their lives.

Maine ranks 37th out of 50 states in family income.

Somerset County is ranked as the poorest county in Maine - with about one quarter of the population living below the poverty line and many others living just above it.

KVCC now enrolls around 2300 students in over 40 academic programs, but the college also provides a wide range of non-credit learning programs to help people in our community acquire skills, develop themselves, and serve as an engine for the local economy.

The average age of a KVCC student is about 29 years.

Many of our dual enrollment students are just 15 and 16 years old.

With the KVCC program in Early Childhood Development, the College is also able to touch the lives of the youngest members of our community.

This institution has the capacity through education and engagement to touch the lives of anyone who needs a lift, an extra edge, or a helping hand.

Many people engage with KVCC simply to add richness to their lives and be connected to our vibrant, high-quality programs and activities.

KVCC graduates find jobs – good jobs – in the local economy.

Approximately 95% of KVCC graduates find work in Maine, and 60% to 70% of them find work right here in Somerset, Knox, and Kennebec Counties.

There is also the shared value of tradition.

George Hinckley founded the Good Will-Hinckley School in 1889.

This structure – the Moody Chapel - was built about a decade later.

It had fallen into disrepair.

The investment in this new campus has allowed us to re-invest in tradition and restore the bell tower, fortifying this building to last another 100 years.

Last week KVCC and the Harold Alfond Foundation received the Maine Preservation Honor Award for that restoration – a well-deserved acknowledgement of the shared values between Harold Alfond and the KVCC Community.

Here today we are not only officially naming the Harold Alfond Campus of KVCC but we are breaking ground on a new building financed by the Harold Alfond Foundation.

Currently known as the Sustainable Agriculture Building, this structure will actually house a cluster of academic programs, infrastructure and co-curricular activities that focus not only on the vocation of farming, but also on the science and business practices that lead to value-added production of wholesome agricultural products.

The will become the core of KVCC’s Center for Farm-to-Table Innovation.

KVCC will offer Maine’s first two-year degrees and certificate programs in related disciplines: sustainable agriculture, food science, and culinary arts.

This new building will serve as a statewide hub focused on developing a key segment of the local workforce and supporting the backbone of the mid-Maine economy.

Kennebec Valley, the breadbasket of Maine, is one of the few regions in the country with a rapidly growing number of small farms.

The close proximity to the state’s key transportation artery means that local farm products move readily into the regional and national supply chain infrastructure.

Maine is also home to a vibrant and expanding local food movement that relies on fresh agricultural products from the Kennebec Valley.

The College will be crucial to strengthening Maine’s food-based economy and in reasserting the Kennebec Valley as a major food producer.

This new building will serve as a showplace and working laboratory for Maine.

It will house programs and services not only for enrolled students, but also for Maine farmers, farm-related business owners, primary and secondary school students, and home gardeners.

By supporting the construction of this new academic building the Harold Alfond Foundation has invested in opportunity, in skills, in community, and in regional economic development.

But this investment is much more than that. It will have a catalytic effect by bringing visibility to the important work that KVCC does, bringing recognition to the hard-working people of our region, and drawing in further investment to help KVCC move forward with this and many other new programs.

This investment also has a multiplier effect that will ripple outward over generations as people learn, enter the labor market and transmit the shared values of KVCC and the Harold Alfond Foundation to generations of Mainers and would-be Mainers who will be attracted to this tremendous region and to the top-quality programs of this college.

I am humbled by and profoundly grateful to the Harold Alfond Foundation for these gifts.

On behalf of Kennebec Valley Community College, thank you.