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February 3, 2017

UNE receives two strong bond ratings

Photo / Tim Greenway University of New England President Danielle Ripich received notice this week that the university received a financial rating of A3 by Moody's Investors Service and an A-rating from Fitch Ratings.

The University of New England said it received a financial rating of A3 by Moody’s Investors Service, its first financial ranking by the debt-rating service, and an A-rating from Fitch Ratings.

UNE President Danielle Ripich and Vice President of Finance and Administration Nicole Trufant received notice of the ratings while attending the recent meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers in New York City.

The ratings were released Feb. 1.

Five Maine colleges are rated by Moody’s. All are within Moody’s top tier, ranging from “prime” to “upper medium grade.” Moody’s has ratings for the following Maine colleges, according to its website:

  • Bowdoin College, Aa2 rating (January 2016)

  • Colby College: Aa2 rating (June 2015)

  • Bates College: A1 rating (May 2016)

  • University of New England A3 rating (Feb. 1)

  • University of Maine System A3 rating (May 2014)

  • Overall, Moody’s ratings range from Aaa at the high end to C, which would mean in default.

    Of UNE, Moody’s wrote in its report: “The A3 is anchored by UNE’s growing market presence as a health sciences focused university with strong student demand, favorable operating performance and increasing flexible reserves. The rating also incorporates management’s thoughtful planning and careful execution, which has resulted in a significant strengthening of the university credit quality over the last decade.”

    The Fitch Ratings report points to several key ratings drivers, including sound financial management, moderate debt burden and enrollment growth.

    UNE has spendable cash and investments that have nearly tripled to $118 million in the last five years, it said. A study by Planning Decisions Inc. showed the school has an economic impact of $1 billion.

    “Moody's has confirmed what we know about the University of New England,” Ripich said. “We have financial depth, which will secure the future for our students and the longevity of the university. The institution’s financial leadership is reflected in this ranking.”

    Ripich announced last year that she will retire after the current academic year. A search for her successor is underway. Ripich was a Mainebiz 2016 Business Leader of the Year in the nonprofit category.

    UNE, which has campuses in Biddeford, Portland and Morocco, is Maine’s largest private university, with enrollment  of 12,245. It has Maine’s only medical and dental schools.

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