News & Events

Local couple presents major gift to support auditorium, cultural arts

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to announce that a local couple has stepped forward with a major gift to assist the campus in its efforts to promote the cultural arts in Aroostook County and to serve as a cultural hub for the region.

Ray and Sandy Gauvin of Mapleton, well-known for their many County endeavors including the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative, have gifted the University a 75-acre woodlot and building located at 640 State Road in Mapleton. The couple also is donating all of its maple syrup production equipment to the University.

The proceeds from this donation may serve as a lead gift toward UMPI’s Auditorium Renovation Project or the land and “Sugar Lodge” may be utilized as an outdoor living laboratory in the University’s academic endeavors. The University is considering the best use of this generous gift that will support the long term goals of the campus. In honor of the Gauvins’ significant contribution, the Wieden Hall facility will be known as the Raynold and Sandra Gauvin Family Center for Cultural Arts.

“We are so pleased to receive such a generous gift from Ray and Sandy, who have supported the County in so many ways over the years, and are delighted that this gift will help us to support our cultural arts efforts and academic programming for northern Maine,” UMPI President Linda Schott said. “Ray and Sandy are long-time supporters of higher education and patrons of the arts, so this is such a fitting gift. Together, we hope this will help us to leverage even more community support for our Auditorium Renovation Project, cultural arts endeavors, and other academic programs.”

The Gauvins explained that they wanted to give this gift in particular to help ensure that the University receives the support it needs to renovate its auditorium and continue providing quality cultural arts experiences for the region.

“We are aware that for the current UMPI student body, as well as visiting students from Northern Maine Community College, it is important to have a utilitarian and versatile place in which students can learn and be entertained,” Sandy Gauvin said. “It is also an attraction for recruiting new students. Having an attractive performance and lecture hall would make a positive impression on prospective students and their families when considering attending UMPI.”

“Since we live in a rural part of the state, it is important for us to be able to attract events that will enrich the lives of our residents,” Ray Gauvin said. “Central Aroostook is a beautiful part of the state with a great deal to offer to outdoor enthusiasts, but the cultural life of our residents is equally important. With a renovated and revitalized auditorium, we can offer events that will offer comprehensive opportunities to our entire community. We are excited about the project and all of its possibilities and look forward to revitalizing this historic venue, making it once again a robust cultural venue for both the university and our greater community.”

A graduate of the University of Maine at Portland, Ray Gauvin has owned franchises of Advantage Payroll Service in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. This business became the largest payroll processing firm, not only in Aroostook County, but in the State of Maine as well, having at one time a staff of 35 people. Payrolls were processed all over the New England area, even though the home office was located in Presque Isle, Maine. He is a Vietnam veteran, a renowned businessman (recently retired), and a well-respected philanthropist in Aroostook County.

Sandy Gauvin graduated from the University of Maine System and has a Master’s degree from the University of New England. She is a 25-year veteran of the education profession, teaching in both SAD #20 and SAD #1, and is also a fellow of the Maine National Writing Project. She has served on several local, regional and state non-profit boards such as The Learning Disability Association of Maine, Homeless Services of Aroostook, the Northern Maine Community College Foundation Board, and the Aroostook County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, among others.

UMPI has a long tradition of promoting the cultural arts, thanks in large part to its Auditorium, which serves as a cultural arts center, an academic training ground, and a public forum for the exchange of ideas. The 400-seat facility is more than 50 years old. It traditionally has been used an average of 2,300 hours per year and attracted a total yearly attendance of well over 50,000. Because of its deteriorating condition and outdated technology, though, its demand and occupancy have significantly declined.

Renovations for the project are slated to include new seating, stage floor, ceiling, stage curtains, and dressing room; the addition of a remote, in-house control station; LED theatrical lighting; state-of-the-art sound system; heating system; new wiring; ADA accessibility improvements; and an electronic security system.

As University officials continue fundraising and making renovation plans, cultural programming will be offered in the auditorium facility, when possible, and at other venues on campus when more modern spaces and technology are required.

“We are currently in the process of a feasibility study to determine what might be possible for this Auditorium in the future and the related costs for such an endeavor,” Marty Parsons, Vice President for Administration and Finance, said. “We have several needs on our campus, and this gift will allow us the flexibility to address two significant issues currently facing us—a much needed auditorium renovation and an outdoor living laboratory.”

For more information about the Auditorium Renovation Project or to make a donation, please visit www.umpi.edu/theater.