January 20, 2019
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106-member board to shape UMaine System business, law center

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Former gubernatorial candidate, Eliot Cutler (left) and University of Maine System Chancellor James Page.

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Maine System this week identified more than 100 Maine business, legal and public service leaders to help create a graduate learning center that brings together business and law programs under one roof.

The system released on Thursday a list of 106 professionals who will form the advisory board of the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies. The center aims to unite the graduate business programs at the system’s campuses in Orono and Portland, the University of Maine School of Law, and potentially the Muskie School of Public Service.

Part of the goal of the center is to build closer ties with the business community and meet the needs of Maine employers and create a program that is more attractive to potential students, system officials have said.

A few notable names on the list include: Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, Maine Chamber of Commerce CEO Dana Connors, Maine Turnpike Authority Director Peter Mills, Bangor Savings Bank CEO Robert Montgomery Rice, and Edmund Muskie Jr.

Most members reside in the Portland area, where the center will be located, but others come from Bangor, Augusta, Washington, D.C., New York City and beyond.

“I am pleased to be invited to the table at the launch of this exciting educational initiative for Maine students,” Saufley said in a news release. “The opportunities created by a Professional Graduate Center at the University of Maine will enhance career options at the intersection of law and business.”

In April, UMS Chancellor James Page announced the system’s hiring of former Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler to oversee the launch of the center. The Harold Alfond Center has contributed $1.75 million for the planning process.

“The center will be profoundly important for Maine,” Cutler said Wednesday. “It will strengthen and transform graduate and professional education in our state. It will broaden professional opportunities for Maine citizens, attract entrepreneurs and businesses to Maine, and help drive statewide economic growth.”

The center is one of the early initiatives to sprout from Page’s One University push, an effort to streamline the system, making it more fiscally sound by reducing program duplication across its seven campuses focusing each school on its specialties. Business education is one of the first programs to be part of that academic transformation process, as the system tries to determine ways to improve cooperation among campuses and better leverage resources.

“The chamber wants to help the university transform itself,” Connors said. “Our graduate schools need to produce an increased number of more broadly educated and experienced graduates if Maine is to stay competitive in today’s marketplace.”

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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