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April 5, 2022

UNE's plan to move med school to Portland gets $5M boost

Photo / Jim Neuger James Herbert, president of University of New England, cited "unwavering support" from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who helped secure $5 million for UNE's plan to move the med school from Biddeford to Portland.

The University of New England has received $5 million in federal funding to support construction of a new medical school on the university's existing Portland campus.

The $5 million in funding comes from the recently signed federal omnibus spending bill, and will help bolster Maine’s health care workforce amid a critical nationwide shortage of nurses and physicians. 

This new funding follows of a $30 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation to support construction the new College of Osteopathic Medicine facility, establishment of a new Institute for Interprofessional Education and Practice and the acceleration of high-growth undergraduate and graduate programs on the Biddeford campus, the university said Tuesday. 

The Biddeford-based university plans to build the Harold and Bibby Alfond Center for Health Sciences on the campus, a pivotal step in relocating the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine to Portland and establishing a comprehensive health sciences campus in Portland. 

Moving the med school from Biddeford to Portland will allow the school to expand the student body and will also consolidate UNE's health professions programs onto a single, interprofessional campus.

UNE operates the state's only med school and dental schools. Its physician assistant program will collaborate directly with their peers in nursing, social work, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, dental hygiene and nurse anesthesia. 

Meanwhile, the move will free up space at the Biddeford campus, allowing extra room for programs that address critical workforce needs, such as marine sciences, business and criminology. 

Federal dollars

Last May, at the request of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., UNE President James Herbert testified to a congressional committee about Maine’s workforce shortages and offered his solutions for the future. Since that time, UNE has worked with Collins to secure federal funding for the med school relocation project. 

“As the nation’s oldest state, Maine cannot afford to lose valuable health care workers like we are seeing nationally,” Herbert said. “Merging all of UNE’s health professions programs on one, integrated campus will support Maine’s health care infrastructure for years to come, and I am beyond grateful for Sen. Collins’ unwavering support of UNE and its role in making Maine a healthier place."

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April 7, 2022

Great news for UNE and Portland.

April 6, 2022

Good on the congressional teams for directing a share of federal funds to the state, it will absolutely help.

It's a shame that the only organization providing this service is private, actively underpays staff, has reduced compensation for 4 years running (between no COLA, and under-inflation COLA), Firing of dozens of lower wage staff instead of James Herbert or executive staff taking reductions in compensation.

To be clear, this is a man who makes $700,000 a year plus, who chose to fire $40k/year employees instead. They eventually extended some offers back, but it's not like tuition or grants were reimbursed.

Their Maternity policy is straight out of 1985, and benefits are broadly uncompetitive.

tl;dr - UNE sucks as an organization. Anyone who is considering an offer should consider other opportunities.

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