College of the Atlantic gets anonymous $2M gift

Posted Dec. 06, 2010, at 9:19 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:54 a.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Christmas has come a little early this year for College of the Atlantic as an anonymous donor has given $2 million to the small liberal arts college’s endowment, college officials announced Monday.

The gift puts the college on “more robust financial” footing, COA officials wrote in a statement released Monday.

The statement indicated that the donor, who prefers to remain anonymous, is familiar with the school and is “delighted” with the quality of its students and its reputation. The monetary gift is among the largest the 41-year-old school has ever received.

“It is extraordinary to receive this endorsement for our special form of higher education at this time, despite the financial difficulties being experienced throughout the world,” outgoing COA President David Hales said in the statement. “We are also grateful that this donor chose to contribute to our endowment, helping to ensure that the college will continue to attract and support strong, caring students — no matter what their income level — for generations to come.”

COA, founded in 1969, has developed an international reputation for being environmentally conscious and for emphasizing sustainable living through its curriculum and programs.

The school has pursued carbon neutrality since 2007, has held zero-waste commencement ceremonies since 2005, and for several years has pursued environmentally friendly designs and construction projects as it has expanded its on-campus student housing options. This month, 12 COA students from nine countries traveled to Cancun, Mexico, to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

For years, the college has assisted towns and institutions on Mount Desert Island and elsewhere in Hancock County in planning, conservation and sustainability endeavors, COA officials wrote in the release.

COA offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in one discipline, human ecology. This fall it began classes with 360 students, its largest enrollment ever.

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