The greenhouse under construction at the University of Maine at Presque Isle received its official name on May 20 when the University of Maine System Board of Trustees gave its approval for the state-of-the-art, four-season facility to formally be called the Zillman Family Greenhouse. The decision was made during the trustees’ meeting in Augusta.
UMPI President Ray Rice, who was in attendance at the UMS BOT meeting, expressed his gratitude for the decision and the recognition that it bestows: “We very much appreciate the Board’s approval of this official naming of our teaching and research greenhouse and how the naming will help to mark, for generations to come, the support that Don and Linda Zillman have provided for this facility’s creation and success.”
The greenhouse project—a $935,000, 2,400-square-foot structure to be located in a spot adjacent to Gentile Hall and close to the campus’s year-round composting site—had its groundbreaking ceremony in late April and ground work is now underway at the site.
The facility will include two climate-controlled research labs, a teaching classroom, and a faculty office for the Dr. Robert Vinton Akeley Chair of Agricultural Science and Agribusiness. It will serve as an important teaching and research space in connection with UMPI’s new Agricultural Science and Agribusiness program, with courses on plant biology, soil science, and integrated pest management taught there, as well as trainings on greenhouse crop production and sensor utilization, and professional development workshops for local growers.
Dr. Don Zillman, who served as UMPI President from 2006-2012, and his wife Linda Zillman were the donors who provided the very first gift for the greenhouse.
“Don and Linda have been staunch supporters of this project since the beginning and we are so pleased to be able to honor them in this way,” Debbie Roark, Executive Director for University Advancement and External Affairs, said. “Not only were they the first donors to the project, they were excited about the potential to support the greenhouse by writing letters of support for grant applications and speaking with other potential donors encouraging their support for the project.”
In addition to support from the Zillmans, the greenhouse project has been made possible through several funding sources, including grants from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund and the Maine Community Foundation, as well as gifts from the Maine Potato Board, Farm Credit East, McCain Foods, MMG Insurance, University Credit Union, KeyBank, Katahdin Trust Company, Aroostook County Safety Directors, Mary Akeley Smith, and Helen McConnell.
The greenhouse design was completed by Dirigo Architectural Engineering of Turner, and PNM Construction of Presque Isle is serving as the general contractor on the project. Work is expected to be completed in time for classes this fall and an official dedication to occur during UMPI’s Homecoming Weekend.