Harold Alfond keeps on giving

Harold S. Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Co., and one of Maine's most generous benefactors to a wide range of educational and charitable causes, will give Saint Joseph's College $1 million toward completion of a four-story, 50,000-square-foot Academic Center that will open in August at the lakeside campus in Standish.

The gift is the second major donation to the college from the Harold Alfond Foundation, which gave $1.65 million toward construction of an athletic and recreation facility in 1998. As with the first gift, this matching challenge grant is contingent on the college raising $1 million from other donors.

A $10-million Academic Center, the largest construction project in the college's history, will offer sweeping views of Sebago Lake and the White Mountains from the highest point on the 330-acre campus. To be named the Harold Alfond Academic Hall, or Alfond Hall, the building will add 31 new classrooms and three computer labs.

"We are proud to have the name of Harold Alfond associated with the greatest era of new building and change on this campus since the College moved here from Portland in 1954," said President David House.

In the last several years, the college has built two new residence halls, renovated an academic wing and expanded the dining hall. Since 1990, the college has added 76% more faculty and 43% more academic majors. Its distance education division for adult learners has grown as well, and now serves 4,400 students worldwide, including 565 who live in Maine.

From 1990 to 2002, enrollment at the four-year liberal arts school, the only Catholic college in Maine, grew 54 percent to 950 students. Though academic space has been expanded, adapted and renovated, the Academic Center represents the first new academic construction in almost 50 years.

Saint Joseph's, with the largest group of Maine students of any private liberal arts campus in the state, has carried out a strategic plan to improve facilities and programs over the last several years.

"Mr. Alfond's original investment in this College helped begin a series of developments that strengthened Saint Joseph's. Our students have outstanding facilities for living and recreation, and now we are providing them with the classrooms and labs that match their academic determination," Dr. House said.

Before the announcement of the new gift, the college had raised $1.8 million toward its goal of raising $4 million toward financing the project.

Alfond, 89, formed the first private foundation in Maine, contributing more than $100 million dollars to charitable causes since 1950. He invented the factory outlet store as owner of Dexter Shoe and retains a minority ownership interest in the Boston Red Sox.

December 5, 2003 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu