Husson to close Unobskey School in Calais

Posted Dec. 08, 2010, at 9:50 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:20 a.m.
Governor John Baldacci (left) Nancy Unobskey (middle) Sidney Unobskey (right)

Governor Baldacci poses with Sidney and Nancy Unobskey at Husson College.  The Unobskeys presented Husson College with the Unobskey Education Center in Calais - the largest single gift in the college's history. edscan 1/23.
Governor John Baldacci (left) Nancy Unobskey (middle) Sidney Unobskey (right) Governor Baldacci poses with Sidney and Nancy Unobskey at Husson College. The Unobskeys presented Husson College with the Unobskey Education Center in Calais - the largest single gift in the college's history. edscan 1/23.
Governor Baldacci speaks with Sidney Unobskey at Husson College before the press conference announcing the largest gift in the history of Husson College. edscan 1/23.
Governor Baldacci speaks with Sidney Unobskey at Husson College before the press conference announcing the largest gift in the history of Husson College. edscan 1/23.

BANGOR, Maine — Husson University will end its offerings at Unobskey College in Calais on Dec. 21.

The university’s board of trustees made the decision Monday, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

“After taking a long hard look at the situation, the numbers just aren’t there,” Husson President Robert Clark said in a statement. “During this past summer we hosted extensive discussions with our educational partners in the St. Croix Valley, and we are committed to remaining part of the discussion about the educational needs of Washington County. We are confident that the educational offerings in Washington County are outstanding and they serve the students there well.”

Five students, all American, are enrolled at Unobskey College, according to Julie Green, spokeswoman for Husson. Three are in the graduate counseling program and two are in an undergraduate education program.

“One of the undergraduates will go to school on our Bangor campus,” Green said. “The other four are nearing the end of their programs and their classes will be provided” by closed-circuit television at Washington County Community College.

Early in 2007, Sidney and Nancy Unobskey of Robbinston and San Francisco donated the property, valued at $1.25 million, in which the Unobskey School, renamed Unobskey College, was given to Husson. In addition, the couple offered to underwrite the school’s operating costs for the next seven years, a gift valued at $280,000, according to previously published reports.

The building will be returned to the St. Croix River Valley Foundation, which is the name of Unobskey family foundation, according to Green.

“When we signed the agreement we had hoped to provide any variety of programs for the people there, but neither the population [nor] the economy supported that,” she said.

At the time of the transition, the Unobskey School was home to University College at Calais, part of the University of Maine System. The University College, which began holding classes in the building in 1995, finished its semester in the building, then relocated to Washington County Community College in Calais.

Tuition costs for the 2010-11 school year are $84 per credit hour compared with $438 at Husson.

Sidney Unobskey is an international real estate developer who grew up in Calais, according to previous reports. Nancy Unobskey is a licensed clinical social worker and lifelong supporter of women’s health, children and the arts.

In Husson’s press release Wednesday, the couple expressed support for Husson University’s move.

“Over the last 12 years, hundreds of St. Croix Valley residents have taken college courses, and dozens have obtained college degrees at the Unobskey College on Main Street,” they said. “We are proud to have made this facility possible through the St. Croix River Valley Foundation.

“Now, a new chapter in higher education for the area is opening as our partner Husson University is closing Unobskey College and relocating its classrooms to the Washington County Community College,” the Unobskeys said. “We are hopeful that this will continue the process of enhancing higher education collaboration in the area. We intend to continue to promote higher education opportunities in the area. We want the people of the St. Croix Valley to know that our commitment to progress in the area remains firm.”

Lynne Coy-Ogan, Husson’s provost, said in the press release that the small number of students enrolled at the school would be able to earn Husson degrees.

“We do have a small group of students currently enrolled, and we are working individually with each of them on this transition,” she said. “We are committed to and confident that we are providing them every resource they need to complete their degree programs. We are grateful to Dr. Joyce Hedlund, president of Washington County Community College, who has agreed to make space available on that campus for our remaining classes.”

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