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YES on Question # 6 --News Release

Higher Education and Lifelong Learning Vital Investments for Maine's Future, Say Question 6 Proponents

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

CONTACTS: Alice Kirkpatrick (MCCS)
(207) 767-0116 x 3;
Bob Caswell (USM)
(207) 780-4200;

AUGUSTA , Me. – With a record 48,000 students enrolled in Maine’s public Community Colleges and Universities, and thousands of seniors staying active and engaged in learning later in life, a bond issue to upgrade campus facilities couldn’t come at a better time, say higher education leaders. Learn about Question #6.

The heads of the University of Maine System and Community College System joined forces to kick off a statewide campaign today (10/4) to raise awareness of Bond Issue Question 6 at events held at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, and Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

UMS Chancellor Joseph Westphal and MCCS President John Fitzsimmons spoke at the Bangor and South Portland events. The presidents of the area Community Colleges and Universities also participated.

Question 6 seeks $9 million for higher education: $5 million for repairs and upgrades at Maine’s seven Community Colleges; $2 million for repairs at Maine’s public Universities in Augusta, Machais, Farmington, Fort Kent and Presque Isle; and $2 million for a new center for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. The bond would leverage another $4 million in private funds for OLLI.

"Passage of Question 6 is vital to Maine's ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities at both the community college and university levels," Westphal explained. "With passage of this bond proposal, we will be able to make much-needed improvements to public universities and colleges across the state."

MCCS President John Fitzsimmons said, “While relatively small in relation to the other bond issues, Question 6 would have a substantial impact, touching nearly every region of Maine, and benefiting students of all ages — from those just entering college to seniors taking courses to stay active and engaged,” he said.

Since the creation of the Community Colleges from the former technical colleges three years ago, enrollment has jumped 44 percent, said Fitzsimmons. “Over 3,300 more students are attending our Community Colleges — which is great news for Maine and vitally important for our economy,” he said. “Passage of Question 6 will help ensure a quality learning environment for these and future Community College students.”

The higher education group has formed a political action committee called Citizens for Higher Education to fund an educational campaign to raise awareness of the bond issue. Students and community supporters are distributing flyers and lawn signs, and radio ads are expected to air later this month.

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 Northern Maine Contacts: You also can call campaign coordinator Pat Sutherland at 764-1490, or Karen Gonya , NMCC, 768-2809,