Historic lodge donated to Unity College

Published: Mar. 16, 2018 at 5:13 PM EDT
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Unity College is an institution already known for experiential environmental education.

Now, thanks to a multi-million dollar gift, the college is realizing it can continue to make the entire state its classroom.

"I as President am really excited to receive a gift like this. Every time I come here, I just fall in love with it a little bit more," explained Unity College President, Dr. Melik Peter Khoury.

It's an institution known for its environmental education and making the state of Maine its classroom.

Now, thanks to a multi-million dollar gift, Unity College is expanding their programs to Somerset County.

"This is probably one of the most impactful things to happen to Unity College over the last 10-15 years," said Khoury.

The Couri Foundation of the Moose River Valley has generously donated Sky Lodge.

The historic hunting lodge and campus was built in 1929 with sixteen buildings and over 150 acres of land.

"Every person that comes here is just so relaxed and calm. They really don't want to leave. They get in front of our fire, sit down, and have a wonderful time," said Sky Lodge Manager, Michelle Morrison.

Over the last twenty years the Couri Foundation has utilized sky lodge programs to help children get connected to nature.

The Couri's hope that this gift will allow the college to continue their traditions.

"The fact that the Couri Foundation is partnering with us gives us that kind of time so we are not rushing but at the same time absorb what is wonderful about just this location," Khoury explained.

"It's really nice to have an organization that understands the lodge and understands the history about it and really wants to make sure that we can preserve it the way it is, maintain it as we have over the last 30 years of bringing it back to its glory," said Morrison.

Students from all seventeen of unity college's undergraduate majors will use sky lodge for educational retreats, and some may even get some hands on training in running a business.

"My hope is that they get to see what it's like to run a destination vacation space," said Khoury. "They get to see the beauty of living in some of these small communities. i would love to see the opportunity where our students are getting internships locally, they're getting summer jobs locally, and they're getting some of their community based learning by working with a different part of the community, and how cool would it be if some of those start their own enterprises as part of being part of this community?"

Unity College has received many gifts in its history, but officials say this one will have a lasting impact on students and faculty for many years to come.

"I'm looking forward to the meetings over the next few months and engaging with the local schools, the local selectmen, the local businesses, and how is it going to look like with the college like unity college being a part of their community, and how can we enhance the economic development in the area."

The lodge and campus will continue to be available for retreats, weddings, and conferences from outside organizations.

Academic experiences will likely start in the fall of 2018.