Branches, Roots and Blossoms: All One TreeRon Cantor | President, Southern Maine Community College
In the five years since Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) opened its Midcoast Campus in the town of Brunswick, enrollment has grown from fewer than 80 students to nearly 600. Course offerings have grown many times over. And last fall the campus added a residence hall and a state-of-the-art learning commons/campus hub.
Thirty-five miles of picturesque Maine coastline separate the Midcoast Campus from the college’s larger campus in the city of South Portland. While each campus enjoys its own organically grown culture of student success and community engagement, both campuses are part of the same academic tree.
Whether a student studies in Brunswick, South Portland or online, the common roots include comprehensive support and diverse opportunities to develop skills and insights for tomorrow’s economy. Students choose from more than 40 degree options and take courses wherever and whenever their busy lives allow.
SMCC was founded in 1946 as the Maine Vocational Technical Institute to serve returning World War II veterans who needed to learn new skills for the peacetime economy. The South Portland campus was once historic Fort Preble, commissioned by Thomas Jefferson in 1808.
Two centuries later the college cut the ribbon on its Midcoast campus at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. Both the South Portland and Brunswick campuses were built on former military bases, but for two different purposes—one to educate and employ those returning from war, the other to help revive a regional economy in the wake of an economic recession and a base closure.
The two campuses had different challenges, but the same belief that investment in human capital was the solution.
The campuses offer two distinct community experiences that meet the different preferences and needs of our students. One is a bustling urban campus with nearly 6,000 students; the other is a close-knit community where everybody knows your name.
The Midcoast Campus offers a comprehensive, full-college experience—a local variation on the South Portland theme. The student-centered Learning Commons includes tech-infused spaces for learning and gathering, a library, advising offices and a café, along with modern laboratories and classrooms. The residence hall is comprised of spacious suites once occupied by bachelor officers when Brunswick Naval Air Station was operational. The Learning Commons and the residence hall, which opened last fall, are complimentary additions to the campus’s refurbished academic building and the Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering.
In and around all buildings are many signs of robust student-faculty-staff communities. And everything is designed to be as flexible and convenient as possible because today’s students juggle jobs, families and other responsibilities along with their schooling. Above all, our campuses and online offerings are built, and constantly updated, to advance student success in a changing world.
With two full-service campuses, a beach and a lighthouse, SMCC has much to offer. Our mission is to transform lives and communities through education and training. By expanding educational options, our Midcoast Campus and online offerings help us do just that.
Leaves are blossoming on every branch.