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Unity College to Voice Concerns Over Proposed Bill, Hearing Slated for April 1 in Augusta

Posted March 31, 2014, at 4:51 p.m.
Last modified March 31, 2014, at 5:15 p.m.

Unity, Maine – Officials at Unity College and Maine College of Art are voicing profound concern over a letter dated March 20 from Nina A. Fisher, Legislative Liaison at the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT). This letter indicates that MDOT and the Maine Turnpike Authority crafted a sign policy for the Maine Interstate. This proposed policy, LD 1831, An Act to Allow Signs for Areas of Local, Regional and Statewide Interest on the Interstate System, would remove many signs on the Maine Interstate, including signs for institutions (non-profit and for-profit alike) of secondary and higher learning that are under 1,000 students.

“At a time when Unity College is gaining national exposure for the state of Maine as a leader in sustainability science, our framework for teaching and learning, this bill undermines precisely the type of innovation in rural areas that Maine needs,” noted Dr. Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College. “That Unity College is under 1,000 full-time students should not frame this issue. We are focused on quality, not quantity and that should determine whether or not we have a sign on the Maine Interstate.”

Dr. Don Tuski, President of Maine College of Art, voiced his concern.

“From an economic development standpoint, this newly proposed legislation is counter-intuitive,” he said. “Smaller institutions of higher education in the State of Maine play a significant role in the health of our communities and this proposed law fails to acknowledge this important fact. On behalf of Maine College of Art, we strongly oppose this bill and encourage our State law-makers to go back to the drawing board.”

Officials at Unity College are calling upon designated representatives of Maine colleges and institutions of secondary education with enrollment of under 1,000 students to join with a contingent from Unity College on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 1 p.m. in the state Capital in Room 126, to voice opposition to this bill during a public hearing of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, Unity College Executive Vice President, CFO and Liaison to the Board of Trustees will be delivering testimony against the bill. The full text of his testimony is available at unity.edu.

Unity College was founded in 1965 by area townspeople in part as a response to the MDOT’s decision to bypass the town completely when constructing the Maine Interstate. The founding of a college was seen by its founders as a means of creating economic opportunity and sparking innovation in the region. Unity College has grown into a borderless entity that issues graduates forth to pursue environmental careers across the United States and the globe. It is one of the largest revenue generating employers from Waterville to Belfast. In addition to receiving a $10 million donation in 2010, Unity College’s capital improvement and building projects surpassed that sum.

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