Linda Abromson strolls into the Cumberland Club, a classic reception hall on State Street in Portland. She greets people with a smile and open arms as she waltzes in, searching for her friends, who happen to be dining with USM President Pattenaude.
The president begins explaining a proposed building plan. He laughs and says, “We are not looking for money, and we would like to name the building after Joel and you.”
The education community center on the Portland campus will be named The Joel and Linda Abromson Community Education Center.
It will honor the late senator and his wife’s commitment to public service and educational opportunities for the community.
“I cried. It’s not very often I feel truly unworthy but I did this time,” Abromson said.
Joel Abromson was a Cumberland County republican sen. from 1994 to 2002. He was popular
with both parties, establishing relationships with many Maine communities.
“I am both proud and very humbled by this extraordinary tribute to Joel and to me. The complex has long been needed by both the University and the community and the fact that it will serve such a diverse population in so many stimulating ways truly excites my family and me,” Abromson said.
For years the Abromsons have been proactive members of the Portland community.
“If you sleep in Portland, you will get shelter, food and an education. I see this building as being able to reach that population that may not be ready for an academic career,” Abromson said.
USM’s Center for Continuing Education, offering courses to meet the professional and personal development needs of Maine people, will be based in the classroom building.
“I see this as a welcoming place for everybody.”
A $3.1 million campaign is underway to help finance the Center chaired by business leaders Dick and Adele Aronson.
USM also received a $250,000 gift from Peoples Heritage Bank. Half of this gift will fund a computer classroom called the Peoples Heritage Bank Room in the Joel and Linda Abromson Community Education Center.
The building will also include a 500-seat lecture hall donated by the Hannaford Company, which made a $500,000 gift last June.