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CONTACT: John Diamond 207-973-3224 or Rita Sullivan 207-973-3245

Legislative Committee to Review Merger Plans

BANGOR - The University of Maine System announced on Friday it is postponing its plan to merge the Augusta campus of the University of Maine at Augusta with the University of Southern Maine.

Instead, that plan - part of the UMS Board of Trustees' long-term Strategic Planning Initiative - will be presented to the Maine Legislature's Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs “so that we can work collaboratively to address the issues surrounding the future of public higher education in the Augusta region,” according to University System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal.

“Board Chairman Wick Johnson and I have had extensive discussions with several legislators about our plan to align UMA's Augusta campus with USM,” Westphal explained. “We have agreed to hold off on the implementation of this element of our strategic plan until the committee has had ample opportunity to explore the issue.”

According to State Sen. Elizabeth H. Mitchell of Kennebec County, the Senate chair of the committee, she and her committee colleagues will “examine all options related to the quality and accessibility of university education in central Maine.” Mitchell said the process will be completed no later than February, 2006.

Westphal said that the remaining elements of the strategic plan will proceed toward implementation.

“I look forward to working with Sen. Mitchell and her committee toward a positive outcome for higher education in central Maine,” Westphal added.