The University of Maine at Fort Kent campus community was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Richard J. Spath, UMFK’s fifth president. Dr. Spath led the University from 1971 until 1986.
Spath passed away at the age of 89 in Portland, Maine on Tuesday, November 6 with his family at his side.
During his tenure he 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.
“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.
Richard Spath was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 30, 1923. He received a Bachelor of Arts from John Carroll University in 1948. In 1949, he received a Master of Arts and in 1955, he received a Ph.D.; both from St. Louis University.
Dr. Spath was appointed president of UMFK in July, 1971. During his tenure, significant academic additions were made.
In 1971, a two-year transfer agreement was made with the University of Maine at Orono for a pre-engineering program. A transfer agreement also was made with the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham for a social work program. Two programs were approved in 1972 — a Canadian-American Studies minor and a Study Abroad program. The Bachelor of University Studies, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, and Bachelor of Arts programs were approved in 1974. 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 for 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.
During Dr. Spath’s tenure, the University established an honors program, UMFK was reaccredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Education program was reaccredited by the Maine State Department of Education.
Following his retirement in 1986, Spath accepted a position as a University System Professor of Language and Literature at the Bath-Brunswick Center.