$1 Million Pledge by Harold Alfond Adds Momentum to UMass Amherst Building Project

AMHERST, Mass. - The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts has received a commitment of $1 million from Harold Alfond, chairman and founder of the Dexter Shoe Company, Dexter, Maine.

The gift is earmarked for the Isenberg school’s $12 million high-technology building addition, which will offer students state-of-the art classrooms, a real-time trading room, and long-distance learning facilities.

Alfond pledged the gift during the University’s homecoming weekend (Oct. 23-24), where his long-time friend, UMass alumnus Eugene M. Isenberg ’50, was honored for his $6 million gift to the School of Management. During the weekend, the School of Management was named for Isenberg, a gala banquet was held to honor him, and he received a Chancellor’s Medal, the highest honor that is bestowed by the campus. Isenberg’s $6 million gift in 1997 is the largest gift in UMass history.

Alfond’s gift will go toward funding the new wing of the building and towards meeting a challenge issued by Isenberg. In the challenge, Isenberg said he would give $4 million for the new wing, if it was matched by companion $4 million gifts from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and from University alumni and friends. The new wing will be named in Alfond’s honor.

"With the Alfond gift in hand, we’ve now raised $10 million toward our $12 million target," said Thomas O’Brien, dean of the Isenberg School of Management. "We’re on track for the building’s opening in May of 2002."

Born in 1914 in Swampscott, Alfond has long distinguished himself as one of Maine’s leading philanthropists. His multimillion dollar challenge gifts to the University of Maine in Orono have gone toward funding the Alfond Arena, for basketball and hockey, and the Harold Alfond Sports Stadium. Alfond has also given Colby College $3 million for new construction at the Harold Alfond Athletic Center. And he has pledged $3.5 million toward an $8 million public recreation center now under construction in Waterville, Maine. Outside of athletics, Alfond has contributed $1 million toward social services and college scholarships for Maine shoe industry workers. He is the leading supporter of the Harold Alfond Center for Health Sciences at the University of New England in Biddeford.

"In their philosophy of giving, Harold Alfond and Gene Isenberg both emphasize support for young people and challenge gifts," notes Gregory W. Powell, president of Dexter Enterprises. "Harold firmly believes that by creating fund-raising partnerships with communities, challenge grants make both giving and receiving more meaningful."