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USM Considers Name Change That Could Play Up Portland Appeal


The University of Southern Maine is considering a name change. President Glenn Cummings says it could be a way to continue what he sees as a "major turnaround in enrollment, revenue and reputation.”

While no new name has been proposed, Cummings said that there are good reasons to consider the University of Maine-Portland, given the city's rising reputation.

"We're looking at ways we can leverage our assets here in the greater Portland area, ways we can improve our geographical reach and enhance that reputation, and also generate greater interest among prospective students."

Cummings also notes that the state faces a shrinking number of 18-year-olds, and recruiting students from out-of-state will be more important in the years ahead. Portland's increasing popularity, Cummings says, could help with such recruitment.

“That downward trend will expand into the mid-2020’s and, as a result, we have to be stronger, marketing-wise, throughout New England and across the country,” he says. “And, in order to do that, playing on the real strength and attractiveness of the Portland market, and the Portland assets, will be a major question we'll be asking in this possible name change.”.

The school will spend about $60,000 for a firm to survey the USM community about the possible change. In addition to current faculty, staff and students, on Wednesday the school sent an email to 52,000 alumni to gauge their response to a possible name change.

The University of Southern Maine name was adopted in 1978, replacing the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham. The school continues to have campuses in both communities, as well as in Lewiston.