FAIRFIELD — Monday was a day for Kennebec Valley Community College students and staff to celebrate.

At a crowded news conference at the Blaine House, the Harold Alfond Foundation announced a $10.85 million gift, a portion of which enabled the Maine Community College System to purchase 600 acres and 13 buildings from Good Will-Hinckley so that Kennebec Valley Community College can expand its enrollment, presence and course offerings.

Now it’s time to get to work, as there’s a lot to plan.

Kennebec Valley Community College is in the process of selecting a firm to prepare a master plan for the campus, said Jonathan Humphrey, the college’s marketing specialist.

Once the firm is selected, he said, it could take five months to craft the design.

Barbara Woodlee, president of the college, said Monday she was excited and honored to accept the responsibility of being a steward of such a bold project at such a special place.

The special place is the middle 600 acres of Hinckley’s 2,450-acre campus. It includes Averill/Alfond School, an organic farm, Alfond Recreation Center, Nutter Field House, Moody Memorial Chapel, six residential houses, a garage, and a maple sap structure alongside U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield.

With a $2.5 million contribution from the Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges and $2 million from Maine’s Community College system, a total of $9.85 million will be spent on upgrades and construction at the new campus.

Part of the money will be spent this spring on improvements to technology, sewer and water systems, and for repairs to buildings, Humphrey said.

A dormitory is expected to be built later. Woodlee said a dormitory would be vital to attracting students from outside Somerset and Kennebec counties. About 80 percent of the current student population resides in one county or the other.

Electrical lineworker technology, pulp and paper technology and business administration are three programs that may move to the new campus, Humphrey said. When the new agriculture sciences program is added to the curriculum, those courses also will be taught there.

Humphrey said there are no plans for college administrators to move their offices to the site.

With the expansion, it is expected that KVCC will increase its enrollment gradually by 2,000 students, to nearly 5,000. No enrollment increase is expected for 2012-13, though, Humphrey said, as it will take time for renovation to be completed and for programs to be established.

Corresponding increases in faculty and staff members are likely to result, Humphrey said.

The demand is there. Last fall, Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons said the system lacks the capacity to serve many more students and that a year ago more than 4,000 qualified applicants could not accommodated in their chosen programs of study.

At that time, Maine’s seven community colleges reported their combined enrollment had burgeoned 83 percent since 2003, from 10,127 to 18,500.

From 2010 to 2011, enrollment at the seven campuses swelled 4.3 percent — an increase of 769 students systemwide.

Last fall’s preliminary figures indicated Kennebec Valley Community College had the largest leap — 6.5 percent — among the seven colleges. At the beginning of October 2011, 2,606 students were attending classes at the commuter college on Western Avenue.

The college has come a long way, Woodlee said. The lone institution of higher learning in Somerset County began in 1970 with 35 full-time and 131 part-time students taking classes during a second shift at Waterville Senior High School.

Many details are yet to be decided, Humphrey said, including a name for the new campus and whether varsity intercollegiate athletic squads might be added.

“To have 600 acres to develop and grow is beyond incredible,” Woodlee said Monday.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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