Thomas College President Laurie Lachance fields questions from the media Oct. 14 after it was announced that the school is receiving $13.5 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The college announced several new programs this week that the money has made possible. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

WATERVILLE — Thomas College has announced its new programs and initiatives that will launch next year were made possible by a $13.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation the school received last month.

The grant given to Thomas is part of the foundation’s overall $500 million investment in Maine’s future.

Thomas College was able to match the funds given by the Alfond Foundation, bringing the school’s total investment in the venture to more than $26 million.

In fall 2021, new academic programs in digital media, with concentrations in web development or multimedia design, as well as a program in business analytics will be available for undergraduate students.

A new cybersecurity concentration will also be added to the master’s in business administration program.

“The money is allowing us to add some new programs that are in high demand in the market,” Ed Cervone, executive director of Thomas’ center for innovation in education, said during a phone interview Thursday. “This is allowing us to offer more options … we’re expanding the options for undergrad and graduates, and we’re creating more pathways for them. All thinking about how can we better serve Maine kids, Maine adults and really drive the economy.”

The school will also add a certificate of advanced studies program in cybersecurity, project management or human resource management.

“This is essentially like a mini master’s program,” Cervone said. “They’re really relevant and really attractive for those in the workforce who are looking to scale up to get a promotion, or to become more productive within their career, but doesn’t require them to sit down for a full, traditional degree program.”

Thomas College has also announced a new partnership with the Roux Institute at Northeastern University that is aimed at driving economic growth and innovation in Maine. 

“We’ve been in discussions, because we have such a similar mission which is really to train Maine people for jobs in the future and really raise the economy,” Cervone said.

Other initiatives the school will launch include a new program that will provide industry certificates, credentials and licensing to students, a partnership with MindEDGE that will allow access to online training and skills, and a student professional and career development peer mentorship program.

For Cervone, the new initiatives will allow Thomas to continue its mission of drawing people to Maine.

“This is an array of things that are going to help the college really continue to be a valuable resource for Maine people, young Mainers, seeking a college education that sets them on a career path here in Maine,” Cervone said. “This is a considerable investment for us and for Central Maine … the majority of our students when they graduate, they stay and work in Maine, so any investment like that really becomes an investment into Maine communities.”

College President Laurie Lachance shared similar sentiments.

“The single greatest thing we can do to drive the region and state’s economy is to attract, retain, and graduate more students and provide them with as robust academic and career-preparation experiences as possible,” Lachance said in a prepared statement. “These new programs, initiatives and partnerships will help fuel our dedication to building Maine’s next generation of innovation leaders.” 

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