Report: University of New England among fastest-growing colleges in US

Student athletes and dignitaries in attendance at a ceremony celebrating University of New England's new sports complex sign a banner commemorating the event in this 2011 file photo.
Student athletes and dignitaries in attendance at a ceremony celebrating University of New England's new sports complex sign a banner commemorating the event in this 2011 file photo. Buy Photo
Posted Aug. 27, 2013, at 3:19 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 27, 2013, at 4:55 p.m.
Robin Spielmann, left, and Krystal Lacombe, right, extract RNA as part of their research at the University of New England's Genomics, Analytics and Proteomics core facility in Portland on May 15, 2012.
Matt Wickenheiser
Robin Spielmann, left, and Krystal Lacombe, right, extract RNA as part of their research at the University of New England's Genomics, Analytics and Proteomics core facility in Portland on May 15, 2012.

PORTLAND, Maine — University of New England, which has campuses in Portland and Biddeford, is one of the fastest-growing colleges of its kind in America, according to a top industry publication.

The university announced on Tuesday that The Chronicle of Higher Education listed UNE as No. 9 among the fastest-growing private nonprofit universities in the country offering master’s programs.

“UNE’s tremendous growth over the past 10 years reflects our intentional focus on providing students with an outstanding academic experience together with a stellar return on investment,” UNE President Danielle Ripich said in a statement. “Our growth in quality programs, faculty, facilities and research has attracted students and positioned the University of New England as a premier institution of higher learning in the U.S.”

The university nearly doubled its student population between 2001 and 2011 — growing from 2,837 to 5,587 during that time — and added 19 new undergraduate, graduate and professional program offerings.

The No. 1 school on the Chronicle’s list of rapidly expanding private nonprofit universities with master’s programs is Liberty University, a Virginia-based Christian school famously founded by the late conservative pastor Jerry Falwell.

Also on the list, in the fifth spot, is Southern New Hampshire University, which grew from a student population of 5,584 in 2001 to 11,851 in 2011. Southern New Hampshire has a strong Maine presence as well, offering classes at Brunswick Naval Air Station for decades, before establishing academic space in a Cook’s Corner-area facility in that town during the early 2000s.

When compared to all other colleges and universities of any kind in the Chronicle report, UNE is ranked as the 17th fastest-growing school and SNHU is ninth.

Within the last four years, UNE has launched both its College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Dental Medicine. The university’s master of public health program has seen an enrollment increase from 100 students in 2011 to 190 this year.

The school also is constructing a third, international, campus in Tangier, Morocco, slated to open in 2014.

UNE has also received plaudits in recent years from Forbes Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and Affordable Colleges Online, according to Tuesday’s university announcement. As many as 90 percent of the school’s 2012 graduates are employed or pursuing additional education, the UNE announcement stated, in part.

“Our graduates are extraordinarily qualified and highly sought after,” said Ripich in the statement. “By continuing to innovate, UNE has responded to both student needs and demand in the fields they’re entering. UNE’s growth is a natural outcome of that success.”

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