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“A lot of things hanging in the air for years are coming to fruition,” said Chairman Robert J. Peacock II, left, at the February 22 Maine Maritime Academy Board of Trustees meeting. At right is Vice-Chair Robert Somerville.
Jennifer DeJoy, the new Director of College Relations, was introduced to the Maine Maritime Academy Board of Trustees at its February 22 meeting.
Sarah Hudson, professor of ship’s medicine, was recognized for her service by Chairman Robert J. Peacock II of the Maine Maritime Academy Board of Trustees at its February 22 meeting. From left, President Bill Brennan, Peacock, Hudson and Vice Chairman Robert Somerville.
by Anne Berleant
Breaking ground on the proposed ABS Applied Science and Engineering Building was the focus of the Maine Maritime Academy trustees on February 21 and 22.
“A lot of things hanging in the air for years are coming to fruition,” said Chairman Robert J. Peacock II.
Reports by the Advancement, Facilities and Property, and Finance standing committees on February 21 outlined the fundraising and construction schedules, and financing options, of the $14.5 million project, a proposed three-story building to be built on the parking lot above the Bath Iron Works building.
“Our goal here, relative to the ABS project…is to give you a good, solid sense that we are on track,” said MMA President Bill Brennan.
Vice President for Advancement Ellie Willmann reported $1.6 million in new commitments, for a total of $5.4 million raised toward the ABS building.
“How much would I have to borrow today to do this project?” asked Finance Committee Chairman John “Dugan” Shipway.
With $1.5 million already spent, mainly on architectural and construction designs, and $3.3 million available, the answer, Willmann said, was $8.6 million.
“We’ve got some hard lifting yet,” said Shipway, “before we can build this building this year.”
The academy has $8 million invested in low-risk funds at Camden National Bank, which includes ABS funds, and plant and renewal and operating costs for next year, Shipway said. (The bulk of the academy’s investments are merged with the Maine University System funds.)
“When we get closer [to the $8.6 million needed], within one or two million, we can self fund, not borrow,” he said.
Committee members have met with bank officials to discuss options for a short-term “bridge” loan, as many donations are spread over a five-year period.
“We’ll have a hard schedule to put before you” at the August trustee meeting, Brennan said, when “the board will take a vote to go to the bank.”
State institutions must demonstrate they can pay 100 percent of a project’s cost, before a project can go out for bid.
Trustee Earle Cianchette of the Facilites and Property Committee described a construction schedule that would see the foundation poured in January 2014, the building shell constructed from mid-March to mid-April and a January 2015 move-in date.
From a fundraising perspective, Brennan proposed a “ceremonial groundbreaking” during Homecoming Weekend this September.
Trustee Rodney Rodrigue asked whether Maine contractors could be given extra consideration during the bid process “since Maine taxpayers” help pay for the academy.
“We are governed by the Bureau of General Services in Augusta,” said Brennan, though he didn’t rule out “aspects in the bid process specifications that address this.”
Shipway asked for specifics, which Brennan said he would provide, “but whatever the answer is, we have to go by it.”
In other business, Chief Financial Officer Jim Soucie reported a budget gap of $660,000 between anticipated revenue and costs for 2013-14, from increases in energy and cruise costs and a decrease in state support and federal grants. Trustees unanimously voted to increase tuition and fees not more than 3.5 percent.
“Important questions have to be asked in terms of strategic planning,” said Brennan. “How do we develop revenue centers as opposed to cost centers?”
Vice President of Operations Jeff Loustaunau introduced Jennifer DeJoy, newly appointed Director of College Relations (formerly Public Affairs). He also reported that new director of Human Resources, Ginny Altemus, will begin in March, and “there’s a lot going on in facilities as a result of Adam [Potter]’s work.” Potter, who filled the Director of Facilities position last fall, had updated the Facilities Committee on new department guidelines and progress on “deferred maintenance issues.” To trustees who complained the day before that Leavitt Hall was too hot, Potter explained exactly what the problem was—and that it was fixed.
“A wonderful report,” said Loustaunau.
The board also recognized the years of service by Professor of Ship’s Medicine Sarah Hudson, who will retire at the end of the school year, and of Assistant Director of Security Art Stone, who is also retiring.
Peacock noted the addition of new board trustee Douglas Wellington, a Castine resident attending his second meeting.
“If anyone in Castine has a problem, go see Mr. Wellington,” Peacock said.
Finally, Peacock announced that Governor Paul LePage will deliver the commencement address at MMA graduation on May 4.