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UMFK begins plans for its 125th Anniversary Celebration

January 24, 2003


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will begin preparations for the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1878 when it was established as the Madawaska Training School.

A committee of University and community members has been formed to plan events that will begin with the inauguration of the University's ninth president, Richard Cost during UMFK's Come to Campus Days in September.

The group will be holding its first planning session on Tuesday, January 28, at 3:00 p.m. in the Nadeau Hall Alumni Conference Room.

President Cost, will address the members of the committee at their first meeting. In addition to brainstorming of events and projects, the committee will choose a revised UMFK logo which will signify the 125 years of commitment the university has had to quality education, and will also form working subcommittees for various events.

Members of the committee are Jason Parent, director of university relations; Gerry Robinson, university relations administrative assistant; Donald Raymond, registrar; Dave Hobbins, Charles "Chuck" Closser, and Lisa Theriault, representing UMFK faculty; Stephanie Cote, assistant director of residence life and student activities; Allison Lutz, student senate representative; Pat Dow, secretary of the alumni association; Paul Bouchard, Lucille Pelletier, Joan Sylvain, and Peter Sirois, representing the Fort Kent community.

The University's beginnings came about by a legislative act in1878, when trustees of the State Normal Schools were authorized "to establish and maintain for a term of not less than six months in each year, two schools in the Madawaska territory, so called, for the purpose of training persons to teach in the common schools of the territory."

Vetal Cyr was appointed principal of the institution. At that time, the first half year of classes were offered in Fort Kent and the second term at Van Buren. The same teachers were in charge of both schools.

At Fort Kent, the school was held in the village school building, and at Van Buren, in a partially finished building furnished with rough seats and study tables. Such were the humble beginnings of an institution the work and influence of which has exceeded the fondest hopes of those who were instrumental in its founding.

In 1887, the school was permanently located at Fort Kent, where a two-story school building and a two-story dormitory were erected. In 1927, the first year of Normal School Curriculum was added, followed by the second year of curriculum in 1934 and the third year of curriculum in 1948.

The name was changed to the Fort Kent State Teacher's college in 1961. A year later the fourth year of college work was added, and in 1963 the first bachelor's degree was awarded. In 1966 it was named the Fort Kent State College.

Again, in 1968, the name was changed to Fort Kent State College of the University of Maine during the merger of state colleges with the University of Maine. In 1970, when the institution became the University of Maine at Fort Kent, it earned accreditation and membership in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

The institution has undergone many name changes since its beginnings; however the commitment to quality education has always been at the forefront of faculty, staff and administrators at UMFK.

It is that 125 year history that UMFK and the community are looking forward to celebrating beginning in the fall of this year.