Come any time of year to Wentworth Point on the Damariscotta River and
you'll find many of Maine's leading marine scientists at work. In the
summer, their research ranks double with visiting scientists and
students from throughout the country and the world.
The 170-acre Ira C. Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, is part of
the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture at the
University of Maine. Tucked into its forested waterfront are the most
modern marine science laboratories and classrooms in northern New
England. In addition, built to the contour of Wentworth Point is the
Darling Conference Center.
While scientists are dispersed widely throughout the state-of-the-art
research facilities, it's at the conference center that they regularly
The $1.6 million Darling Conference Center, completed in 1999, was made
possible by funding from the National Science Foundation and the Ira C.
Darling funds that are held at the University of Maine Foundation. The
center's features include a large dining room and meeting area, and
housing for almost 70 researchers and students. "The conference center
has allowed us to significantly expand our educational and
research-related activities, and it has opened the Darling Marine Center
to the world at large by attracting leading international marine
scientists to our scientific meetings," notes Kevin Eckelbarger,
director of the Darling Marine Center.
The Ira C. Darling property was donated to UMaine in 1965. In addition
to the property, the University of Maine Foundation holds the operating
funds for the facility, which ultimately allowed UMaine to leverage
other sources of funding, including the National Science Foundation, to
benefit the facility.
"This was the ultimate gift," according to Amos Orcutt, president/CEO of
the University of Maine Foundation.
Ira C. Darling, a retired Chicago insurance executive, also established
two endowment funds at the University of Maine Foundation, the Agatha
and Clare Darling professorships in oceanography.
UMaine Today Magazine
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