Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Location of New Graduate School still up for debate

Krysteana Scribner | The Free Press

Posted on November 03, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Julie Pike, Free Press staff

In the next few years a new graduate school will be added to the city of Portland, bringing together the University of Maine System’s graduate programs from different schools under one roof. However, the exact location of the school is still up for debate.

The plan for the new Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies (MCGPS) is currently in its final stages of drafting.

The school combines the University of Maine School of Law, the University of Maine and the USM MBA programs and the Muskie School of Public Service.

Eliot Cutler, the former Independent gubernatorial candidate, is at the head of the plan for the new graduate school, working with his own team, as well as faculty from each school. Businesses in the Portland area are also included in the plans for the MCGPS.

“We have an advisory board of 109 members, from businesses of legal and public service committees that are very active and supportive,” Cutler stated.

As explained on the MCCPS’ official website:

“The Center will feature highly integrated curricula, close engagement with the Maine legal, business and entrepreneurial communities and new degree and certificate offerings.”

“The school will give graduate students the opportunity to take a wider range of courses,” Cutler also stated.

While the MCGPS will be located in Portland, Cutler and USM’s President Cummings have differing opinions on exactly where in Portland. Cummings is in support of having the graduate school be located on the USM Portland campus. He believes there would be several benefits to having the graduate school on campus, such as being close to Interstate 295, having access to campus parking and other resources the USM Portland campus offers.

“Everything would be centrally located, which would be good for the success of the students in the graduate programs,” Cummings said.

Cutler proposed the idea of having the center located in the Old Port or along the peninsula in Portland.

“Locations on the peninsula have certain advantages, being closer to City Hall and businesses in downtown Portland, to name a few,” Cutler stated.

Cummings believes that it would create excessive costs to house MCGPS in downtown Portland. He proposes that having the building on USM’s Portland campus would eliminate the need to buy or rent property downtown.

“The land on the USM’s campus would essentially be free to build the school on, but there’s a limit to what you can do to generate revenues on this location,” Cutler added.

Cummings also pointed out that eighty percent of graduate studies students come from the UMS system, and having the graduate school on campus would provide an easy transition for them.

“Having the Maine Center on campus would allow a natural flow from undergraduate to graduate studies for students,” Cummings said. “Students would continue to be close to all the academic and social resources the university offers.”

The debate over the location of MCGPS is ongoing. Cummings stated that

everything was still at the committee levels of discussion.

Cutler added that it is too early to decide on a final location for the school.

“Getting into a discussion now about the location is premature, and doesn’t include the opinion of those who are going to pay for the center,” Cutler stated.

Among those  who will fund the center is  the Alfond Foundation, which has already contributed two million dollars to the planning of the school.

In late October, Cutler and his team will be meeting with the Alfond Foundation. They will present the plan that he, the committee for the MCGPS, including President Cummings, and other USM faculty have created.

At the meeting Cutler will ask the Alfond Foundation for a substantial financial commitment to creating the center. If the Alfond Foundation agrees, Cutler and his team will continue to reach out to other investors, both in state and nationally, to raise the rest of the funds for the school.

Cutler states that the input of these investors will have a big impact on the decision of the location of the MCGPS.

“When you set out to raise millions of dollars from investors, you’ve got to give your investors a say in where the building goes,” Cutler said. “They have a voice, and to deny them that voice in this decision would be a big mistake.”

The exact location of the MCGPS will not be decided on until the plans for the school have become more definite and have reached funding goals. 

“We have to show that the school can be financially self-supported and sustainable,” Cutler added, “and that’s what we’ve set out to do.”

Regardless of its location, the MCPGS will be important for the state of Maine and University of Maine System.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.