FAIRFIELD — A health-care simulation laboratory under construction at Kennebec Valley Community College will benefit from an infusion of $11.3 million in donations to the Maine Community College System.

The laboratory will provide students experience handling medical situations in a simulated crisis management environment. It is funded, in part, by a $100,000 gift from TD Bank.

The laboratory will serve nursing, respiratory therapy, emergency medical technician and other allied health programs, said Barbara Woodlee, president of Kennebec Valley Community College.

Former Gov. John McKernan, chairman of The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, said the contributions are intended to boost enrollment at the state’s community colleges during the next five years from 18,500 to 25,000 students.

The campaign was launched in 2010 to try to ensure that Maine will have highly skilled workers to meet workforce demands.

The gifts will be put toward additional programming, facility improvements, new equipment and student financial aid, according to The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges’ website.

Woodlee said another project at Kennebec Valley Community College would also benefit greatly from the gifts.

“We are also preparing to launch a new Early Childhood Education associate degree program in January that is designed to expand the geographic reach of our current program by handling the majority of classwork in online classes and reducing the travel requirements for students in other ways,” she said.

A five-year $250,000 grant from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation will fund that program, she said.

Beth Shorr, president of The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, said the Fairfield college will also receive $50,000 for the development of agricultural sciences coursework and be considered for some of $5 million in unrestricted donations made to the foundation.

Kennebec Valley Community College is negotiating with Good Will-Hinckley to buy about 680 acres of its 2,450-acre campus along U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield. The purchase is expected to include cottages, the Alfond Recreation Center, farm, Averill School, president’s residence and chapel of the 121-year-old residential school, which closed its core operations in 2009 because of financial problems, but re-opened this fall as the state’s second magnet high school — the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences.

McKernan said that this fall 4,000 qualified students were not accepted at that Maine’s community colleges because of lack of program space.

Of the 300 programs systemwide, nearly 100 are at capacity, according to the foundation’s annual report.

Since the transition from technical to community colleges, the seven institutions of the Maine Community College System have grown 83 percent in combined enrollment, from 10,127 in 2003 to 18,548 this fall. From 2010 to 2011, enrollment grew 4.3 percent, or an increase of 769 students systemwide.

This fall’s preliminary enrollment figures show Kennebec Valley Community College had the largest enrollment jump, at 6.5 percent, among the state’s community colleges. At the beginning of October, 2,606 students were attending classes at the school on Western Avenue.

Shorr said while there is not a specified time frame for colleges to get money, the gifts were given “to address immediate capacity needs so it will be relatively soon, probably between one and five years.”

The other schools in the system are Central Maine Community College in Auburn, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, Washington County Community College in Calais and York County Community College in Wells.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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