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  • Husson Ledger 1

    VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1

    The H U S S O N C O L L E G EH U S S O N C O L L E G E

    LedgerLedgerS u m m e r 2 0 0 5

    Ross Furman, Class of 1972, is a classic Husson entrepreneur, seeing opportunity where others saw malaise. In Furman’s case it was his decision to invest in Portland’s Bayside and Marginal Way twenty fi ve years ago, when others focused on the Old Port and the waterfront. Today, Portland is discovering Bayside ,and Furman has become a major player and a tribute to his alma mater. Th is young man from Eastport, who worked his way through Husson, is today a case study of how success comes when an entrepreneur thinks and does things outside the box.

    During the 50s, 60s and early 70s the 100-acre area between Interstate 295 and Congress Street known as Bayside became an area of industrial and urban decay. Portland’s urban renewal was between Congress Street and the waterfront. Newly graduated from Husson and seeing low cost real estate and rapid interstate access along Marginal Way, Furman began to concentrate his video and amusement game business ventures into a deserted warehouse. Today his 6,000 square foot Skillful Vending showroom is the largest north of Boston. It is one of his twelve properties and fi ve parking lots.

    Furman Rebuilds Portland’s Bayside 1972 Alum’s Vision Leads to Business Success

    Excitement Builds as Th e O’Donnell Commons Nears Completion

    “Th e O’Donnell Commons,” a new $7 million, 40,000 square foot building, is steadily nearing completion on the Husson College Campus. Th e construction is generating excitement and anticipation on campus. College administrators, faculty and students alike are looking forward to exploring the fi nished product during the Fall 2005 semester.

    Karl Ward, the project manager for the construction fi rm Nickerson & O’Day, Inc., expressed the importance of this new building in a recent interview. “Th is is a very important project for Husson. It gives the School of Education its own home. It gives the School of Health upgraded laboratories, and it gives Student Services a one-stop shopping environment for students. On top of all that, it provides Husson College with a new gateway and a new lecture hall. We’re trying to accomplish a lot of things – a lot like Husson College itself actually – within a very tight time frame and budget.”

    Designed by WBRC Architects of Bangor, the O’Donnell Commons will beautifully enhance the campus landscape. Th e modern large glass doors and glass atrium that will extend to the third fl oor will serve to welcome visitors and make a positive statement about Husson’s commitment to quality and growth.

    Th e three-way collaboration between Nickerson & O’Day, Inc., WBRC and Husson has resulted in continuous progress towards the completion of the project, even through a cold and windy Maine winter. “We were handed a mission by Husson College to take what really should be done in about two years and get it done in about 11 months,” Ward explained. “We knew that the only way we were going to fi nish this job on time was if construction started immediately. WBRC obtained environmental permitting in record time. It allowed us to break ground in October.”

    (continued inside)

    (continued inside)

    In Th is Issue... Ross Furman ‘72 ........................................................................ O’Donnell Commons ................................................................ NESCom ..................................................................................... Letter from the President ......................................................... Graduation 2005 ........................................................................ O’Donnell & James Honorary Doctorates ............................. Campus News ............................................................................ Sports News ................................................................................ Homecoming 2004 .................................................................... Alumni Hall of Fame 2004 ....................................................... Homecoming 2005 Schedule ................................................... Fall Sports Schedule .................................................................. Around the Circle ...................................................................... Class Notes ................................................................................. In Memoriam ............................................................................. Lost Alumni ............................................................................... Alumni Trip 2006 ......................................................................

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  • 2 Husson Ledger

    As construction has been completed phase by phase, visitors to the Husson campus have watched the progress with great interest. Ward had this to say concerning the “fast-track” construction process. “We asked WBRC to give us the foundational and structural steel design fi rst, two months later give us the shell design of the building (which included the masonry, the exterior wall framing and the roof) and fi nally, two or three months later, deliver to us all of the interior design. Th at includes the walls, furnishings, the colors, basically what the fi nal building will look like. Th en, lastly, before spring thaw, deliver to us the site work design.”

    With compliments to WBRC, Ward added, “Th ey’ve pulled it off . Th ey’ve met every deadline so far.”

    Husson is looking forward to utilizing this building to give its students a competitive edge as they pursue their professional goals.

    Th anks to a very generous gift from Alumnus and Trustee Robert D. O’Donnell ‘72/’82 we are able to have this cutting edge resource for our students who will eventually become the leaders of tomorrow.

    (Furman continued)

    (Th e Commons continued)

    Even as he expanded his business, Furman made a determination that the surest way to improve the value of his property was to purchase the land around him, then to lease it to entrepreneurial tenants. In short, he has become a dominant player. “I have never been a developer, I am a rebuilder. Portland real estate is going out-of-sight. I have countered with rebuilding

    the low rent district. Th e $360/month studios have attracted as many as 500 entrepreneur/artisans of the new creative economy to Bayside with a backlog of inquiries. It’s a break-even situation at best but it is changing the image of the area from backwater to gateway and business success follows,” says Furman. Th e gateway concept is now attracting the likes of Gorham Savings Bank, which has a major new facility under construction right in the heart of Furman’s Unique Properties. He raised a sign that reads “Welcome to Bayside.” Furman’s next unorthodox step has been as a commercial investor, to join the Bayside (Homeowners) Neighborhood Association. “Th ese homeowners operate family businesses. It all fi ts together,” said Furman.

    Ross lives in Falmouth Foreside with his wife Jennifer, son Yates, and daughters Victoria and Morgan. With his business success he has also returned much to the community. His rebuilding endeavors have enriched his love of local history, and he has become actively involved in the Falmouth Historical Society. He remains fi ercely loyal to Eastport and Downeast Maine. He has become involved at Husson and has recently pledged a lead gift for a much needed student lounge and recreation center on the Bangor Campus, to be called Th e Furman Center. “I want to return something to the college because it got me on my way. I cannot think of a better place to help out than seed money for a student lounge and recreation center. Recreation is my fi eld of work,” he said.

    (Photo courtesy of Jeff Gonzales)

    Todd Nadeau, Vice President for Development and Ross Furman ‘72 by the Bayside sign.

    Ben Haskell Assumes Leadership Role at NESCom With the retirement of long time NESCom president George Wildey ‘83 MSB, Ben Haskell ‘81 MSB has been named Executive Vice President and Dean of the New England School of Communications. Haskell has been with NESCom since its inception in 1988.

    “In the beginning there was George Wildey, Donna Th ornton, our Administrative Assistant, and me,” said Haskell. “George was the President and I was the Director of the School (then known as the New England School of Broadcasting). Th e three of us did everything; admissions, teaching, college fairs and we swept up at the end of the day! I had 17 years in radio broadcasting when George asked me to give that up and help him start the school. George taught me everything I know about being in the fi eld of education. I was lucky to have such a wonderful mentor,” said Haskell.

    Haskell, who holds a BS in Speech from the University of Maine and a Master of Science in Business from Husson, said, “I am comfortable with this new position and I am enthusiastic about the challenge. I will do things a little diff erently from the way George did them, but I know I learned from the best.”

    With the advent of technology the broadcasting business has changed dramatically. “Most of our students today are majoring in television or audio production, with web design quickly becoming our third most popular program,” said Haskell. “We still have 50-60 students in the radio program, with most of them interested in being on-air people either as a d.j.