UNE announces island donation, provides students first of its kind learning laboratory on Maine’s coast

L-R: Barry Costa-Pierce, Emily Vollmer, Michael Galloway, Alicia Brown, Art Girard, Fran Girard, Hanna Sihler, Dylan Turner, and
L-R: Barry Costa-Pierce, Emily Vollmer, Michael Galloway, Alicia Brown, Art Girard, Fran Girard, Hanna Sihler, Dylan Turner, and President Danielle Ripich

December 01, 2015

President Danielle Ripich (left) with Art and Fran Girard
President Danielle Ripich (left) with Art and Fran Girard

A myriad of media outlets reported on UNE's acquisition of Ram Island in Saco Bay, which was announced at a press conference on December 1, 2015. WCSH, WGME, the Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, Mainebiz, Daily Journal, the Daily Reporter and MPBN all related news of  the university's new island posession. Gifted to the UNE by the Art Girard family of Portland, the island will be used by UNE’s Department of Marine Sciences and Marine Science Center for a variety of research purposes and to expand experiential education opportunities to students.

Located two miles off-shore, Ram Island comprises one-acre of pristine land which the Girard family sought to preserve. “Its location and relatively unspoiled environment teeming with marine wildlife was the perfect match for the studies supported by the Marine Sciences Department,” said Art Girard. “UNE stood out to me for [its] progressive curriculum and extraordinary management team. I have no doubt it will be an excellent custodian of Ram Island.”

According to UNE President Danielle Ripich, Ph.D., the generous gifting of Ram Island to the university enables UNE to provide innovative learning experiences that no other college or university in the country can offer. “Our students have a very unique opportunity to study aspects of marine science and ecology both in fully equipped classrooms and laboratories on campus and, with a quick boat ride, in a university-owned, living, learning laboratory. The hands-on opportunities this presents to our students are tremendous,” she stated.

Barry Costa-Pierce, Ph.D., Henry L. & Grace Doherty Professor and chair of the Department of Marine Sciences and director of the Marine Science Center, said that the gift of Ram Island “places UNE at the forefront of marine programs, not only in the Northeast but in this nation.” The donation, he said, “allows students to be involved in all of the ocean, coastal, marine, and environmental issues of the 21st century.”

With new majors in Marine Entrepreneurship and Ocean Studies and Marine Affairs and several new double major and minor options, the acquisition of Ram Island complements the Marine Sciences Department’s new academic offerings and expanded research programs. Specifically, students, faculty and staff will use the island to conduct research on everything from marine ecology, geology and invasive species to mammals, fisheries and aquaculture.

Learn more about Ram Island

Experience the News



     Portland Press Herald 

     Bangor Daily News


     Daily Journal

     Daily Reporter


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