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UMFK to unveil history book looking back at campus's first 125 years

September 3, 2004


A publication, 125 years in the making, that details the story of the people and events that have shaped the University of Maine at Fort Kent will be officially unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday, September 18 at 2:00 p.m. in the Blake Library on the UMFK campus.

A Century and a Quarter of Progress, an aptly titled 160-page book that explores the 125-year history of UMFK through the administrations of each of the university's nine presidents, will be introduced to the public during the annual "Come to Campus Days" alumni and friends homecoming weekend.

The publication includes the original "collection of historical vignettes" compiled by late University of Maine at Fort Kent Professor of History Roger Grindle in his 1978 centennial-year publication A Century of Progress, and brings that book forward to include the 25 years of history which followed the 100th anniversary of the campus.

Grindle served the institution with distinction from 1962 through his untimely death in January of 1981.

"This dedicated faculty member authored the original and definitive publication chronicling the story of our campus, the text of which comprises the first five and a half chapters of the new book. Roger Grindle's work has been instrumental in the effort to both document and preserve the rich story that is UMFK," said Burnette Bowker, president of the UMFK Alumni Association. "We are forever indebted to Professor Grindle for his outstanding contributions to our institution."

In addition to Grindle's original writing, the book features four and a half original chapters of text researched by St. John Valley historian Guy Dubay and authored by writer Fran Bouchard. A Century and a Quarter of Progress also features photos not found in the original 1978 publication and a new, attractive layout and design.

Also included is a prologue authored by the University's ninth President Richard W. Cost, on the life of Major William Dickey, "The Duke of Fort Kent", and the man referred to as the "founding father" of what is present-day UMFK.

"Major Dickey's efforts to establish and fund the Madawaska Training School were truly crowned with success. If we fast-forward to today, we would say that his hopes and dreams for the institution fully justified the enormous personal efforts he expended to initiate this university," writes Cost in a section of the prologue.

Other features of the publication are a complete listing of all graduates of UMFK and its forerunners since the first graduation in 1882, a timeline of major developments on campus since 1878, and a complete listing of past alumni association award recipients.

The planned publication unveiling will include a book signing by President Cost of the prologue he authored.

The ceremony will also feature a presentation of complementary copies of the book to St. John Valley area public and school district librarians on behalf of the UMFK Alumni Association.

A limited number of copies of the publication have been printed and will be sold for $15 each at the unveiling. Advance sales of the book are currently being handled by the university relations and alumni affairs office.

A Century and a Quarter of Progress is the final project of UMFK's 125th anniversary celebration, a year-long program of events designed to commemorate the educational institution's contribution to the St. John Valley and State of Maine since its founding in 1878.

In addition to Cost's prologue and the research and writing by Guy Dubay and Fran Bouchard, a committee comprised of twelve members served on the manuscript editorial committee.

The team was comprised of Jason Parent, committee chair, Gerry Robinson, assistant to the chair, Alaina Pethick, editorial assistant, and members Lucille Pelletier, Pat Dow (class of 1960 and 1963), Tracie Hobbs (class of 2002), Don Raymond (class of 1975), Joan Sylvain, Burnette Bowker (class of 1960), Venette King (class of 1956), Sandra Dubois (class of 1962 and 1972), and Lloyd Soucie (class of 1966).