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January 21, 2021

UMaine System plans joint-campus engineering school with $75M gift

A newly planned, $75 million state university for future engineers and computer scientists won’t have a single campus.

The Maine College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science is expected to draw on resources across the University of Maine System and its physical locations.

Participants include faculty and staff at the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine as well as most other campuses in the public university system. Industry advisory boards, K-12 educators, nonprofits and fundraising organizations will also be taking part.

Planning for MCECIS got underway Thursday with a “virtual vision session” involving 180 participants, according to a news release.

The initiative will also include renovations to UMaine’s engineering education infrastructure in addition to the new Fernald Engineering Education and Design Center in Orono, slated for completion in the summer of 2022.

The $75 million in initial support comes from a $240 million donation from the Harold Alfond Foundation to the UMaine System, announced last fall.

The goals are to unify and expand undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Maine and University of Southern Maine, expand UMaine graduate engineering programs to Portland, streamline pathways into the statewide college from all UMS universities, and create new opportunities for shared programs, interdisciplinary structures and partnerships.

A recently approved  joint accreditation for the University of Maine System makes it possible for Maine’s universities to address workforce needs through multi-campus collaboration, statewide planning, and resource sharing, according to the release.

“Today is about thinking big and planning for greatness,” UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in the release. “The Harold Alfond Foundation’s commitment to Maine has provided us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to imagine a statewide college with multi-university integration, resources, world-class programs, faculty, students, and facilities to shape the future for decades to come.”  

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