2017-08-24 / Editorial

Welcome back, University of New England

Legislative Lowdown
by Rep. Martin Grohman

Move-in day for students enrolled in the fall semester at the University of New England is next week. It has been remarkable to see the growth of the school, which now has more than 10,000 students enrolled across its three campuses.

The UNE Biddeford Campus was founded in 1939 when College Séraphique opened as a high school and junior college for boys. In 1952, that institution became a fouryear liberal arts college named St. Francis College. In 1978, St. Francis College merged with the New England Foundation for Osteopathic Medicine to become the University of New England. Since then, the school has continued to grow, and UNE is now the largest private university in the state of Maine. It’s also the largest educator of health care professionals in the state.

UNE offers degrees in the marine sciences, environmental science, business, education, the humanities and many other subjects in addition to health professions. The university added a pharmacy program in 2008, which was the first in Maine and is a particular point of pride. UNE also added a dental school in 2013, the only one in the state.

Many towns that have prestigious colleges suffer from a “town and gown” phenomenon, where the students view themselves as separate and above the locals. I have never had that impression of UNE. In fact, one of the things that has always impressed me about the school is how students become part of the local Biddeford community. They volunteer in our schools and help out local nonprofits. On Volunteer Day last fall more than 500 students fanned out across the city to do park cleanups and gardening projects. It’s common to see UNE students at our local coffee shops and participating in productions at City Theater. Many students rent apartments and live in our neighborhoods. In a nod to our proud heritage, freshman orientation includes a Biddeford Mills Museum tour.

The athletic programs at the University of New England are also strong and growing. The Nor’Easters compete in the NCAA’s Commonwealth Coast Conference. With the new Alfond Center and several new fields and tracks, the facilities are top-notch and the athletic staff are generous in hosting Biddeford High School athletic events on campus

We are fortunate to have this world class university as part of our heritage and our community. Please join me in welcoming the students of the University of New England to Biddeford for the upcoming school year.

Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature and is a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Outside the legislature, he is chair of the Biddeford Solid Waste Commission (note that Biddeford’s Household Hazardous Waste Day is Saturday, Sept. 9). Marty also hosts a podcast for Maine entrepreneurs called The Grow Maine Show, available on Apple Podcasts. Sign up for legislative updates at www.growmaine.com or facebook.com/repgrohman.

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