AP NEWS

USM name change would be in the ‘million-dollar category’

November 23, 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The president of the University of Southern Maine said the costs of changing the name to the University of Maine at Portland would be recouped within a couple of years if lawmakers give their approval. Some lawmakers are already balking.

USM President Glenn Cummings said the cost would be in the “million-dollar category” because it involves logos, signs, promotions and athletics, and campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston.

But, Cummings said, “We would get that back in two years based on our estimates.”

University of Maine System trustees voted Monday to authorize the system’s leadership to seek approval from the Maine Legislature for the name change.

The legislative proposal, sponsored by Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, will be discussed in the new year in the education committee.

Several lawmakers are already questioning the need to change, saying it’s costly and undermines the regional nature of the university.

“Wiping out the reference to the entire Southern Maine region and replacing it with Portland is short-sighted and frankly insulting to hundreds of thousands of taxpayers to who have supported USM over the years,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, a USM alumnus from Windham.

“As a former USM marketer and alumnus, I know that this is a costly way to squander hard-earned brand equity,” added Rep. Mark Bryant, also of Windham.

The name change initiative was launched a year ago to attract out-of-state students. Market research showed out-of-staters don’t know where USM is located and that placing “Portland” in the name would increase interest.

All told, 50% of survey respondents said they would be much more likely to come to the university if it just changed the name, Cummings said.

Under the proposal, the campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston would all be branded the same way as the University of Maine-Portland.