ELLSWORTH University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal and Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons symbolically knocked down the wall between their two adjacent Ellsworth facilities today to celebrate the establishment of The Hancock County Higher Education Center in Ellsworth.
This collaboration represents a new era of higher education in Maine, said Westphal. By working together, the University System and Community College System have made a commitment to advancing educational opportunities in Maine through the most effective and efficient means. Access to higher education opens new doors for Maine citizens and fuels economic development in our State.
Todays announcement reflects our commitment to make college more accessible -- financially and geographically -- to the people of Maine, said Fitzsimmons. This partnership builds off a long history of our two systems working collaboratively to improve access and efficiency, through co-located outreach centers and transfer agreements that help students move easily from two-year to four-year programs.
The occasion marks the shared commitment of the University System and Community College System to strengthen public higher education in Maine. Both leaders voiced their support for Question 5 on the Nov. 4 ballot, a $19 million bond proposal for upgrades to the Maine Community College System, the University of Maine System, Maine Maritime Academy, and Maines public libraries.
The Hancock County Higher Education Center, a union of University College at Ellsworth and the Eastern Maine Community College Center in Ellsworth, is a joint facility that optimizes programs and services available to Hancock County residents. It is the sixth center in Maine in which Community College and University College centers are jointly located. Other co-located centers are operating in Bath, South Paris, Dover-Foxcroft, East Millinocket, and Houlton.
The mission of the Hancock County Center is to provide a full range of University of Maine System and EMCC credit and non-credit programs. The facility opened on Sept. 2 and currently serves 410 students, with 375 enrolled in for-credit courses. Bonnie Sparks, who served as Director of University College at Ellsworth, oversees the expanded facility.
Charles M. Lyons, University of Maine System Vice Chancellor for University College Outreach, and Joyce B. Hedlund, President of EMCC, also took part in todays ceremony.
University College at Ellsworth has functioned as a full-service outreach center of the University of Maine System since 1989. EMCC has offered college courses in the Ellsworth area for more than 15 years, working primarily with Ellsworth Adult Education. In 1998, EMCC established a physical presence in the Mill Mall, where the University College at Ellsworth and a Department of Labor Career Center were established.
Established in 1968, the University of Maine System is the states largest educational institution, with more than 34,700 students enrolled. It features seven distinct universities located across the state, as well as 10 University College outreach centers and more than 100 interactive distance education sites.
The Maine Community College System is Maine's public, comprehensive two-year college system. The System is comprised of seven colleges and eight off-campus centers, and serves more than 11,000 credit students and 10,000 students in non-credit courses and contract training each year.