Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and its Foundation Board announced on Friday that through gifts and the estate of the late Caroline D. Gentile, the University’s longest serving faculty member, UMPI has received a legacy gift of more than $1 million – making it the largest gift that has been given to an educational institution in the County’s history.
Gentile, known to many as Miss Gentile, dedicated herself in many ways to the institution over the course of her 56-year teaching career and gave more than $500,000 several years ago to help build the wellness center that now bears her name. Including the legacy gift that she bequeathed to the campus, her gift to the University totals approximately $1.1 million.
UMPI President Don Zillman and Larry Shaw, President of the University’s Foundation Board, announced the details of the legacy gift during a morning press conference held in the Caroline D. Gentile Health and Physical Education Building.
“We take immense pleasure in announcing this legacy gift and what it means to the institution,” President Don Zillman said. “The remarkable aspect of this gift is that – in addition to the human legacy that Caroline Gentile left over 58 years of teaching, mentoring and program building of Physical Education and Recreation throughout the state – she has also left this remarkable financial legacy.”
During the press conference, Shaw discussed the possibilities the Foundation Board is considering in how to utilize Miss Gentile’s gift, including scholarships, distinguished lecturers, recreation and physical education-related activities, and improvements to Gentile Hall.
“The income generated from this gift is going to allow the University to spend more than $25,000 per year on items that will continue to promote the work that Caroline Gentile spent her whole life doing,” Shaw said. “It’s inspiring to see her legacy continue and to think that 20 to 30 years from now, these initiatives will still be moving forward and her name is still going to be tied so closely to the principles in which she so strongly believed.”
Charles Bonin, Vice President for Administration and Finance, and Dick Gardiner, Director of Gentile Hall, provided details on green initiatives and other immediate changes that will be able to happen because of the legacy gift, how it will help to preserve Miss Gentile’s building, and what the gift means in terms of promoting health and physical education in the County. Bonin mentioned that one item officials anticipate purchasing is a pool cover for the Gentile Hall pool that could save up to $16,000 annually in energy costs. He said officials also hope to conduct a study to find out how to make Gentile Hall more energy efficient. Following their presentations, a video tribute to Miss Gentile was shown that describes what an important force she has been throughout the University’s history.
Miss Gentile served the University for 59 years. She was hired in 1946 by Dr. Clifford O.T. Wieden to teach at the then Aroostook State Normal School, and build its Health, Physical Education and Recreation program (HPER). Through her extraordinary long range planning abilities and her more than a half-century as a classroom teacher, she created a physical education program that has served the County, the State, and the regions beyond. Over the years, the program has gained a reputation for excellence around New England. For more than 50 years, she orchestrated commencement every year, paying strict attention to protocol and tradition. She taught thousands of students, served on hundreds of committees, and influenced many a faculty member.
In March of 2000, Miss Gentile was inducted into the Eleventh Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2003, she was inducted into the Maine Sports Legends Hall of Honors. In November of 2006, MAHPERD [Maine Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance] honored Miss Gentile with its top distinction: the Highest Praise Award.