Brunswick senior college lands at Seeds Center

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BRUNSWICK — Students at Mid Coast Senior College will experience more than just new classes next week.

Theywill also enjoy learning in a new location.

When classes resume Sept. 10, many will be taught at Brunswick Landing’s Seeds Center at 29 Burbank Ave.

Courses were formerly taught at Southern New Hampshire University’s regional center at 10 Tibbetts Drive. Donna Marshall, executive director of Mid Coast Senior College, said her institution had been leasing space from SNHU for the past five years.

Marshall said she received word last winter, however, that the university’s physical presence in Maine would be ending this month. It will still offer online courses to Maine students.

The senior college’s executive committee then went to work to find an alternative space to use in Brunswick, which Marshall said proved to be a “challenge.”

Many people who take classes at Mid Coast come from the Brunswick or Bath area, she added, but some come from as far as Portland.

The college was ultimately able to secure the space at the Seeds Center, which has three classrooms, as well as a classroom to use Fridays at University College at Bath/Brunswick, also at Brunswick Landing. A ribbon-cutting was held at the Seeds Center in July. 

Marshall said her college also holds classes in nontraditional settings for the convenience of its students, such as Thorton Oaks Retirement Living Community on Thorton Way.

“(We) like to hold classes at retirement communities because a lot of the residents there are more able to take a class if it’s going to be right in their home area,” she said. 

Mid Coast Senior College also offers a free lecture series at Curtis Memorial Library on varying topics. Marshall said holding courses at retirement communities and libraries is “a big part” of the college’s offerings, because it allows people with mobility issues to participate.

Offering continuing education to seniors is important in general, she said, because “the desire to keep learning doesn’t end” as people age. 

The school does not offer credits or include tests or papers as part of its curriculum, Marshall added, which is part of what attracts people to take courses there. The senior college was launched in the spring of 2000, after its founders were inspired by a similar initiative in Portland.

“For seniors, who often can be isolated in life as they get older and their circumstances change, it’s really great for them to be with other seniors,” Marshall said. “They really do bring so much to a class, and I think every one of our faculty (would) say it’s so enriching to have the presence of the seniors.”

Marshall also said Mid Coast Senior College differs from adult education programs in the area, as it focuses on more “in-depth” college-level humanities courses in subjects such as literature, science and history.

“(The classes) are not so much vocational but more scholastic,” she said. 

Those wishing to view a fall course list or register can do so on the Mid Coast Senior College website. Marshall said spaces are still available in several classes.

Some courses listed include “How Science Has Improved Our Health,” “The Era of Putin and Trump” and “Women in the Civil War Era.”

Marshall said classes are often taught by retired college professors, and several classes are already filled, including one on American justice, which she called “a real hot topic right now.”

Ultimately, she said, the desire to want to return to college is common for many people as they age.

“Keeping the opportunities out there for seniors to keep learning and stretching their mind and participating is part of our mission,” she said. 

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente

Seeds Center owner Tom Wright, left, shakes hands with Mid Coast Senior College President James Wilkes during a lease signing at the Seeds Center at Brunswick Landing. They are joined by Vice President Doug Bates, head of the table, and Treasurer Erv Snyder.