Letter: USM deserves more of the UMaine pie

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Orlando Delogu’s piece about how to improve our UMaine system is spot on. We 1.3 million Mainers, in the age of distance learning, don’t need seven campuses. Moderate tuition increases, for instance 2 percent per year for 10 years, could raise millions in needed revenue. I got my MBA at USM in 2011 and was surrounded by young executives from Maine’s best companies, like L.L. Bean, WEX, IDEXX, etc. I loved it and realized that Portland is sitting on a goldmine.

USM, with 518,000 people in the metro area, offers 38 masters degrees and just four doctorate-level degrees. Orono/Bangor, with a metro population of 154,000 offers 85 masters degrees and 36 doctoral degrees – nine times more doctorates for a population almost four times smaller. I’ve met numerous people around Portland who want one of Orono’s advanced degrees, but aren’t willing to sacrifice their job, home, kids’ schools, and community for it. And so goes the Maine economy.

So here’s my advice for our next governor (Michaud) to grow Maine’s economy: investing in the UMaine system is your No. 1 priority. Portland is a vibrant city that attracts creative and ambitious young people, and it’s begging for a world-class research institution to spur growth. Balance the historically skewed funding ratio between USM and Orono, consolidate resources and campuses, boldly move high-demand programs from Orono to USM and enrollment may triple; unfreeze tuition for those that can pay, and prioritize fundraising for scholarships, so that tuition is even more affordable for those that cannot pay full price.

David Holman, member
USM Business School Alumni Board
North Yarmouth