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Maine Technical College System

News Release
Technical Colleges to Host July 1 Events to Celebrate Beginning of New Era as Community Colleges

Governor Baldacci to Make Announcement at South Portland, Bangor Events

Wed., June 25, 2003
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

Augusta, ME—Maine's seven Technical Colleges will host special events and community gatherings on Tuesday, July 1—the day they officially adopt their new "community college" names and expanded mission. Local legislators, educators and community leaders will join students, faculty, staff and trustees at the events around the state.

At 10:00 a.m. Governor John Baldacci—who initiated the community college legislation during the recently-concluded session—will join leaders from the Maine Community College System and Southern Maine Community College on the South Portland campus for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The half-hour event will include students who will be part of SMCC's inaugural class this fall.

At 1:30, the Governor will take part in a ceremony at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor. At both events, the Governor will make a special announcement affecting public higher education. University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph Westphal and Maine Maritime Academy President Len Tyler will participate in the event at EMCC.

At the South Portland and Bangor events, MCCS President John Fitzsimmons will give remarks on the vision and goals of the Maine Community College System.

Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle—determined to be the "first community college in Maine"—will hold a sunrise gathering at 4:42 a.m. at the top of Mars Hill Mountain, the first spot in Maine to see the sun. For late-risers, the college will hold a breakfast on campus at 7:30, with a formal ceremony at 8:15.

Central Maine Community College in Auburn, Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, and York County Community College in Wells will all hold breakfast ceremonies (CMCC at 7:30, KVCC at 8:30 and YCCC at 9:00).

Washington County Community College in Calais will wrap up the day with an afternoon of music and dance. Scottish Bagpipers, a traditional Native American dance, and community barbeque are among the events planned. Formal presentations will take place at 4:00 p.m.

The college events mark the transition from technical colleges—which focus primarily on occupational programs—to the more comprehensive mission of community colleges. Community colleges offer career and liberal arts transfer programs, and make college accessible to people from diverse backgrounds by offering low tuition, more accessible admissions, flexible schedules, and academic and other support services. Forty-two percent of U.S. undergraduates are enrolled at public community colleges.

In March, the Maine Legislature passed legislation changing the colleges' names and mission to that of community colleges. The bill was part of Governor Baldacci's legislative agenda and had 117 legislative sponsors.

Maine's Community Colleges began as Vocational Technical Institutes (VTI's). The Maine Vocational Institute (now SMCC) was established in 1946 in Augusta to retrain World War II veterans for civilian jobs. It was later moved to its current site in South Portland. Five VTI's were established in the 1960's. In 1986, the VTI's were separated from the State Department of Education and established as an independent system with a Board of Trustees—similar in structure to the University of Maine System. In 1989, the names of the VTI's were changed to Technical College to reflect their role as postsecondary institutions. In 1994, the last of the seven colleges—York County Technical College—was established.

Together, the seven colleges and their eight off-campus centers enroll 7,500 degree students and about 12,000 credit and noncredit students each year. They offer one and two-year certificate, diploma and associate degree programs, as well as continuing education courses and customized training for business and industry.

The expanded mission will bring greater diversity of programs and courses, particularly in the arts and sciences, as well as more flexible schedules, more accessible admissions policies and developmental programs to help those needing additional preparation for college. The colleges are strengthening relationships with high schools and Adult Education providers to help people transition successfully into college—as well as with Maine's universities and other four-year colleges to facilitate transfer of credits to baccalaureate programs.

For information on community college events:

  • Central Maine Technical College, Auburn — Contact: Annee Tara, 755-5275
  • Eastern Maine Technical College, Bangor — Contact: Terri Adam, 974-4691
  • Kennebec Valley Technical College, Fairfield — Contact: Erica Nardi, 453-5157
  • Northern Maine Technical College, Presque Isle — Contact: Pat Sutherland, 768-2808
  • Southern Maine Technical College, South Portland — Contact: Louise Roy, 767-9574
  • Washington County Technical College, Calais — Contact: John Miller, 853-2518
  • York County Technical College, Wells — Nancy O'Brien, 646-9282