Former UMFK president Richard Spath dies at 89

Posted Nov. 13, 2012, at 4:32 p.m.
Dr. Richard Spath, president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, 1971-1986.
Courtesy of the University of Maine at Fort Kent
Dr. Richard Spath, president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, 1971-1986.

FORT KENT, Maine — Dr. Richard J. Spath, the fifth president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, died at the age of 89 on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in Portland with his family at his side, according to a press release from UMFK.

During his tenure, from 1971 to 1986, Spath presided over the UMFK centennial celebration, the construction of the Sports Center, the addition of the Cyr Hall greenhouse and biology labs and the founding of the nursing program, according to the release.

“I had the pleasure of working with Dick Spath on the Maine Higher Education Council in the 1980s. A professor of literature and classics, Dick was a stern and passionate advocate for academic quality,” said Wilson G. Hess, UMFK’s current president.

Spath was born in Cleveland on Jan. 30, 1923. He received a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University in 1948, and master’s and doctoral degrees from St. Louis University in 1949 and 1955, respectively.

Spath was appointed president of UMFK in July 1971. During his tenure, significant academic additions were made, including a two-year transfer agreement with the University of Maine at Orono for a pre-engineering program; a transfer agreement with the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham for a social work program; a Canadian-American studies minor and a study abroad program; and bachelor of university studies, bachelor of science in environmental studies and bachelor of arts degree programs were approved.

The addition of behavioral science and social science minors occurred in 1975. That same year, 15 transfer programs to the college of life science and agriculture on the Orono campus were approved.

In 1980, a forest management transfer program was approved with the Orono campus’ college of life sciences and agriculture. Approval of the University of Southern Maine’s nursing program to be offered at UMFK and a computer science minor was granted in 1981, along with a business management concentration within the bachelor of science degree. In 1984, the behavioral science major, the multi-disciplinary major and the environmental science minor were approved.

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