University of Maine System Mourns the passing of former UMFK president Richard Cost

Members of the University of Maine System community are mourning the passing of Richard Cost, former president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Cost died over the weekend. He was 81.

Cost served the System in many capacities over two decades beginning in 2002, as president of UMFK. Cost spent the next 8 years leading the university until his retirement in July 2010. While serving as president, enrollment at UMFK increased by a third. In 2012, Cost was awarded the title president emeritus by University of Maine System Trustees.

“President Cost loved Maine and played a critical role within the University of Maine System,” said Dannel Malloy, UMS Chancellor. “He was an incredible resource to UMS on many levels. From his leadership and insight to the many visionary projects he took on after his retirement, he was a true leader whose values will be missed.”

“President Emeritus Richard Cost was a strong advocate for the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the people of the St. John Valley. His legacy of celebrating Acadian culture and realizing the importance of higher education in rural communities have had a lingering impact,” said UMFK President Deb Hedeen, “He has left a strong mark on the history of our University and his contributions will not be forgotten.”

President Cost sought to preserve and celebrate the Acadian culture of The St. John Valley. Under his leadership, he expanded Powell Hall, northern Maine’s first LEED-certified building which became the new home to the Acadian Archives. He also took a special interest in meeting the ongoing challenges of rural communities. On his watch, online education also became an

increasingly important method of instructional delivery. Programs such as e-commerce and rural public safety were added to address changing trends and needs of the area.

In 2004, Fort Kent welcomed the world and hosted the first IBU international Biathlon World Cup event on American soil. President Cost was instrumental in forging a partnership among the University, the United States Biathlon Association, and the Maine Winter Sports Center to pave the way for this monumental event.

At the time of his death, Cost was into his 14th year serving as a Trustee at the Davis Educational Foundation, a Maine-based organization which grants proposals to fund programs aimed at improving teaching and learning and to reducing the cost of higher education.

President Cost served on the Council of Presidents of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for 6 years. During his eight years as UMFK president UMFK’s athletic teams gained increased regional and national attention with 15 Conference Championships and frequent National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament appearances which helped to strengthen UMFK’s reputation among high-school seniors. President Cost served on the NAIA Council of Presidents for six years.

“President Cost made enormous contributions to UMFK and the state of Maine throughout his distinguished career,” said Trish Riley, UMS Chair Board of Trustees. “He exemplified an extraordinary sense of working over a lifetime to build stronger communities and serve the common good.”

A 1964 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cost began his career in May, 1962 as a Captain in the Navy Reserve. Captain Cost served five tours in command, was awarded the Navy Meritorious Service Medal and retired in 1994, after serving more than 32 years.

Cost’s civic activities included work with multiple nonprofit and philanthropic organizations plus more than seven years as chairman of the board at Sea Education Association, allowing college students from across the country to do semesters at sea and earn college credits.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 P. M., October 28, 2023at the First Congregational Church of Plympton, 254 Main Street, Plympton, MA 02367.

About the University of Maine System

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites seven Maine’s distinctive public universities, comprising 10 campuses and numerous centers, in the common purpose of providing quality higher education while delivering on its traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research, and public service.

In 2020 UMS became the first and only statewide enterprise of public higher education in the country to transition to a unified accreditation for the system. Much different than a merger or consolidation, unified accreditation is a new operating model for the University of Maine System that removes the primary barrier to inter-institutional collaboration.

A comprehensive public institution of higher education, UMS serves more than 30,000 students annually and is supported by the efforts of more than 2,000 full-time and part-time faculty, more than 3,000 regular full-time and part-time staff, and a complement of part-time temporary (adjunct) faculty.

Reaching more than 500,000 people annually through educational and cultural offerings, the University of Maine System also benefits from more than two-thirds of its alumni population residing within the state; more than 123,000 individuals.

The System consists of seven main campuses: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The System also includes a UMA campus in Bangor, USM campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.