Foundation system

Husson University Receives $2.2 Million Harold Alfond Foundation Grant

Grant will support programs and outreach at Husson’s new School of Technology and Innovation

Brave Williams in the iEX Center Control Room

The $2.2 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation will help support Husson’s programs in Embedded Technology and the University’s new degree in Extended Reality (XR). “Husson University’s XR Degree Program and iEX Center focus on interactive and immersive media that combine real and virtual elements,” said Brave Williams, iEX Center Director and Associate Professor at the School of Technology and Innovation. “Students work alongside peers, faculty, and innovative outside partners to find solutions to real-world business problems using emerging XR technology.”

Harold Alfond Room – Night Exterior

Implementation of programs and outreach associated with Husson University's new School of Technology and Innovation will be accelerated by the Harold Alfond Foundation's $2.2 million grant.  The School of Technology and Innovation is one of six schools that make up the College of Business at Husson University, Maine's largest collegiate business school.  Programs that will benefit from this grant include College of Business programs in Extended Reality (XR), Computer Information Systems, Software Development, Web Design and Development, and Business Analytics.

Implementation of programs and outreach associated with Husson University’s new School of Technology and Innovation will be accelerated by the Harold Alfond Foundation’s $2.2 million grant. The School of Technology and Innovation is one of six schools that make up the College of Business at Husson University, Maine’s largest collegiate business school. Programs that will benefit from this grant include College of Business programs in Extended Reality (XR), Computer Information Systems, Software Development, Web Design and Development, and Business Analytics.

BANGOR, MAINE, June 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Husson University announced today that it was recently awarded a generous $2.2 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The grant will accelerate the implementation of programs and outreach associated with the new School of Technology and Innovation. This school is part of the Husson University College of Business, the largest collegiate business educator in the state. As an active regional economic development partner, the College of Business continuously works to enhance the growth and success of for-profit and non-profit organizations in Maine.

“The Foundation is pleased to support Husson University’s efforts to grow Maine’s economy,” said Gregory W. Powell, president of the Harold Alfond Foundation. “When the University’s forward-thinking and entrepreneurial educational initiatives are combined with its commitment to improving the economic future of Maine residents, the result is an unbeatable combination of an ideal community partner.”

“This support from the Harold Alfond Foundation will help the University address some pressing workforce issues identified in the 2018 “Measures for Growth,” released by the Maine Development Foundation. According to the report, multiple challenges are holding back Maine’s economic growth,” said Husson University President Robert A. Clark, PhD, CFA. “Two of them were the lack of innovation and the shrinking workforce.”

Clark continued, “This grant will allow Husson University to solve both of these problems. Through education, we can develop a workforce with expertise in various technologies, including extended reality. Approximately 75% of recent Husson graduates reside in Maine. Creating a high-tech workforce has the potential to transform Maine’s economic landscape and attract well-paying high-tech businesses and jobs to the region.

College graduates with knowledge of information technology (IT) and expertise in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are in demand. According to Statista, “more than 23 million jobs are expected to be enhanced by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies worldwide by 2030, an increase from the 800,000 jobs that were enhanced by VR and AR in 2019.”[1]

“Having a solid understanding of technology is becoming an essential skill for all students,” said Dr. Marie Hansen, Dean of the College of Business at Husson University. “This knowledge can make graduates more attractive to potential employers. Companies are looking for people who can help them solve business problems using the latest technology. »

Beyond problem solving, augmented reality and virtual reality have the potential to become a thriving industry. A report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) indicates that virtual reality and augmented reality have the potential to add $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030.[2] While Maine’s IT sector job growth for software and application developers is expected to increase 15% from 2018 to 2028,[3] growth will be hampered if there are not enough educated people to fill vacancies.

The $2.2 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation will help support Husson’s programs in Embedded Technology and the University’s new degree in Extended Reality (XR). With the help of these programs, Maine will have the skilled professionals it needs to fill future job vacancies. The funding is also designed to support research and development projects as well as business partnerships that will help drive job growth and economic development in Maine.

“Husson University’s XR Degree Program and iEX Center focus on interactive and immersive media that combine real and virtual elements,” said Brave Williams, iEX Center Director and Associate Professor at the School of Technology and Innovation. “Students work alongside peers, faculty and innovative outside partners to find solutions to real business problems using emerging XR technology. The vision is to develop a place that creates a seamless extended reality for our communities and the world.

A key Husson University facility that is integral to this educational process is the School of Technology and Innovation’s iEX Center. This state-of-the-art interactive space is housed in Harold Alfond Hall, home of Husson University’s College of Business. The Center is an integrated workspace that includes a virtual production system, motion capture, and dozens of kits used for virtual and augmented reality exploration. It is dedicated to teaching and creating immersive interactive experiences. In this place, many kinds of virtual reality and augmented reality combinations are studied in order to improve daily life and solve real business problems.

“This is not the first time the Harold Alfond Foundation has supported projects at Husson,” said Sarah Robinson, vice president for advancement at the University. “On August 26, 2021, Husson University officially opened Harold Alfond Hall in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. This 2021 Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) award-winning building was made possible, in large part, by a $4 million matching gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation. When the donation was announced in 2017, it was the largest outright donation ever made to Husson University.

Founded in 1950, the Harold Alfond Foundation reinforces the philanthropic legacy of Harold Alfond, the founder of Dexter Shoe Company and a longtime supporter of the Maine communities in which he and his family worked and resided. He has ensured the sustainability of his philanthropy by dedicating nearly all of his fortune to the Foundation, which continues to support charitable causes in the state of Maine. In keeping with the giving model and philanthropic principles of Harold Alfond, the Foundation promotes education, health, youth development and other select charitable causes. For more information, visit HaroldAlfondFoundation.org.

For more than 120 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to meet the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to providing affordable classroom, online, and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has become a top value in higher education. The characteristics of a Husson education include advanced knowledge provided through quality educational programs. According to an analysis of tuition and fees by US news and world report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information on educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit Husson.edu.

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[1] Statista, “Number of jobs enhanced by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) worldwide from 2019 to 2030”, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1121601/number-of-jobs -enhanced-globally- by-vr-and-ar/, accessed 06/01/22

[2] PriceWaterhouseCoopers, “Seeing is believing”, https://www.pwc.com/seeingisbelieving, accessed 06/01/22

[3] Maine.Gov, Center for Workforce Research and Information, “Workforce Outlook: Statewide Employment Projections to 2028,” https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/outlook.html, accessed 6/1/22

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CONTACT: Eric B. Gordon Husson University 207.649.4647 [email protected]