The University of Maine at Augusta and the Maine Department of Corrections recently held a virtual celebration for the opening of the Doris Buffett Higher Education Center at the Maine State Prison. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the end of the renovation project at MSP, celebrating a 15-year partnership between UMA, Maine DOC and the Sunshine Lady Foundation, which provided grant funding for half a million dollars in improvements. This substantial grant from the Sunshine Lady Foundation extends the legacy of the late Doris Buffett, who passed away in August 2020 in her home in Rockport.
UMA began providing educational opportunities at the MSP in 2006, in collaboration with Doris who was the moving force behind the initiation of the degree program. Since the program began, 130 degrees have been awarded, fully funded by the Sunshine Lady Foundation until Pell funding again became available in 2016.
“We are honored to receive this support from the Sunshine Lady Foundation,” stated Deborah Meehan, executive director of UMA Centers. “This funding is an acknowledgement of the long-standing partnership with the Maine Department of Corrections and our mutual goals of improving the lives of Maine’s DOC residents.”
“What’s happening here, the education, the partnership, the investment in an individual’s future should never be in short supply,” said Liberty. “Through the commitment of Mitty Beal and the Sunshine Lady Foundation, along with the dedication of the UMA faculty and staff, it will never have to be.”
“UMA’s Prison Education Program furthers our university’s mission of making a college education accessible to all,” said Wyke. “These educational experiences are invaluable to the prison residents, reducing their recidivism rates and improving their employment opportunities upon release.”