UMPI and city tie knot to signify bond, mark campus center 20th anniversary

Posted Nov. 13, 2012, at 1:08 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Campus Center has had a unifying effect since its construction, bringing UMPI and the community together for a wide variety of events over the past 20 years.

To mark the facility’s 20th anniversary, university personnel united with city officials in a unique ceremony last month, tying two ribbons — blue representing UMPI and gold for the Star City — into a knot, signifying the bond between the two.

“We’re here to celebrate this wonderful building and what it does. The Campus Center brings lots of people together for wonderful conversations through an array of events,” said UMPI President Linda Schott.

Schott said the building has served many functions over the past two decades, with “people coming together for some great projects.”

“I love the collaboration and am grateful we have the space to make it possible,” said Schott.

Charles “Charlie” Bonin, UMPI vice president for administration and finance, said the concept for the building originated in 1986 and the name being considered at that time was the Northern Maine Educational Center. Moneys from a state bond and fundraising campaign were used to construct the building, as well as support through a student fee.

“The basement of the library had been used as a gathering spot prior to the creation of the Campus Center. The Board of Trustees worked on a $2.4 million proposal, with the 1988 conceptual design by a Bangor architectural firm,” said Bonin.

Through a bid process, Cyr Construction of Caribou was awarded the bid to build the structure, with Soderberg Construction of Caribou doing the groundwork.

“Because of a ledge running through the UMPI property, the Campus Center location was moved just under two feet south to avoid the ledge,” said Bonin, noting how engineers worked to blend Kelley Commons, built in 1965, with the new section, which was completed in October 1992.

“The center has over 20,000 square feet, with 8,100 square feet on the base floor, 7,500 square feet on the second floor and 5,000 square feet in what is known as the ‘penthouse’ storage area on the third floor,” said Bonin.

“The final cost of the completed project was $1,973,508,” said Bonin, noting that the structure has gained equity over the years. “Today it’s valued for insurance purposes at $4,120,000. It’s appreciated over the years.”

Mary Lawrence, coordinator of conferences and special programs, said the facility has served many groups and organizations, both campus and public.

“It’s a space utilized by many groups over the years. We thank the communities and businesses who’ve utilized it over the years. Feedback has indicated people consider it a first-class space with top-notch service,” said Lawrence.

Theresa Fowler, executive director of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce, said in her short time representing the Chamber, she has “come to call the Campus Center home.”

“There’s always someone here to direct visitors. It’s open to many people and is truly a community center. The facility is wonderful and the staff is great. Be it for education or social events, the Campus Center will continue to be used for many years,” said Fowler.

University and community officials gathered at the end of the event to take part in the ribbon-tying ceremony.

“I think this is the first time this has been done in northern Maine. It’s a great symbol of collaboration between the campus and community,” said Schott, as she and Fowler worked to tie the ends of their respective ribbons together. “We’ll be using the ribbon again — most notably atop a Christmas tree at the end of the semester.”

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