BIDDEFORD, Maine — University of New England announces that Gregory W. Powell, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dexter Enterprises, Inc. and Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in Maine, will be the 2014 Commencement speaker.
UNE’s 2014 Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 17 at 10:00 a.m. at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. Powell will also be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony.
Since childhood, Powell had personally known Harold Alfond, the founder of Dexter Shoe Company, as a family friend and philanthropist. Working together, Powell and Alfond created Dexter Enterprises, Inc. in 1996 to manage the Alfond family’s investments, philanthropy, and business affairs and to administer the Foundation’s charitable projects in Maine and other states. For over a decade, Alfond and Powell worked closely to build the wealth management business of Dexter Enterprises, Inc. and to design and award charitable grants for education, health care and youth development in Maine and elsewhere. Alfond and Powell deployed Alfond’s business philosophy and acumen to develop a model of philanthropic grantmaking, emphasizing entrepreneurial solutions, creativity, community engagement and partnership.
Before Alfond’s passing in 2007, the Foundation applied that model to build the only combined YMCA and Boys and Girls Club in the nation, four athletic centers, an academic center, a football stadium, a baseball stadium, a fund for nursing education, an outpatient oncology center, a business school, multiple scholarship funds, and other projects. In 2005, Alfond selected Powell to succeed him as Chairman of the Foundation. At his death in 2007, Alfond ensured that his philanthropy would live on by donating all of his wealth to the Foundation.
Today, the Foundation has $727 million in assets. Under Powell’s leadership as Chairman of the Board, the Foundation has continued to fund many projects to benefit Maine citizens, including a $10 million challenge grant awarded to UNE in 2010 to construct the Harold Alfond Forum, a 105,000 square foot athletic complex featuring an ice hockey rink, a basketball court, classroom space, a fitness center, and multi-purpose indoor practice courts that can also be used for performances and other events, with a combined seating capacity of 3,000. Upon matching the Foundation’s grant of $7 million, UNE qualified for a $3 million bonus grant from the Foundation to enhance inter-professional health workforce education.
Before founding Dexter Enterprises, Inc. in 1996, Powell practiced law in Maine for 15 years, concentrating his practice on trial law with a special interest in health care, pharmaceutical and medical device litigation. Prior to private practice, he served as a clerk to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. He is a 1977 magna cum laude graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and a 1980 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law, where he served on the Law Review.
Powell currently serves as a trustee and officer of two other Alfond family foundations. He is a director of Maine Hardware; a director of Count and Crush, LLC; and a member of the BNY Mellon CEO Advisory Board. In 1992, he joined the University of New England Board of Advisors, and in 1994, was elected to the University of New England Board of Trustees. He served as a UNE trustee for five years, and was elected Vice Chairman of the Board in 1999. Powell was responsible for introducing Harold Alfond to UNE and sparking Alfond’s interest in supporting the construction of the Center for Health Sciences, which opened in 1996. Powell is a former director of Spinnaker Trust, and an incorporator and a founding director of Maine Youth Leadership Seminars. For more information on the Harold Alfond Foundation, visit www.haroldalfondfoundation.org
The University of New England will award an estimated 1,319 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the event, representing the College of Arts and Sciences, Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Osteopathic Medicine, and College of Pharmacy. Each college will recognize its own student achievements at pinning and hooding ceremonies throughout the week.