ORONO, Maine — After 22 years at the helm of the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono, John Patches, executive director of the arts center since 1992, will retire effective Friday, Jan. 31.
Patches, 70, announced Wednesday in a news release that he is retiring so that he can spend more time with his family. He will split his time between Maine and California.
Neither Patches nor any other member of the Collins Center staff or board of directors was available to comment as of late Wednesday afternoon. Requests for comments were referred to a University of Maine spokesperson.
Patches has been a member of the UMaine community since 1992, first as director of the Maine Center for the Arts, as the Collins Center was known until 2008. In 1999, he also was named UMaine’s associate dean of cultural affairs and, in 2002 was named executive director of the arts center. He is one of only two executive directors the center has had since it opened in 1986.
Patches came to UMaine from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he spent more than a decade as associate director of the Fine Arts Center. He has served on the boards of the Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators, and of the Atlantic Presenters Association. His awards include the 2009 Vincent Hartgen Award and the 2006 Wilma Award at UMaine, and the 2003 Professional Presenters Award from the Atlantic Presenters Association.
Under his guidance, the CCA has seen major changes, most prominently the $11 million renovation in 2007 and 2008, in which the facility was closed for 18 months while a glass atrium, a redesigned Bodwell Lounge, a cafe, a dedicated space for the Hudson Museum and new technology was installed, among other additions. Patches retained the center’s commitment to classical and chamber music, while still programming popular fare such as touring Broadway shows, dance troupes, children’s shows and concerts from rock and pop artists.
“Under John’s direction, the Collins Center has become a cultural focal point in the state and region,” said Janet Waldron, senior vice president for administration and finance. “We appreciate his passion for the arts and his service to UMaine. He will be missed.”