As one who has worked with the faculty, students and alumni of the University of Southern Maine’s American and New England Studies program for more than 25 years, I want to add my voice to those who are calling for its retention.

During my lifetime, I have witnessed the renaissance of Portland as a major cultural and educational center for Maine and New England.

The city can be justly proud of the vitality of such institutions as the Maine Historical Society, the Portland Public Library, the Portland Museum of Art, Greater Portland Landmarks and the Osher Map Library, and historic house museums such as the Victoria Mansion and the Tate House.

Since 1987, the American and New England Studies program has supported and benefited from this resurgence through its effective collaboration with these and other organizations to provide a unique learning opportunity for those seeking to further their education in historically and culturally related fields.

Beyond the local community, the graduates of the American and New England Studies program play an important role in educating our population and staffing, administering and advancing a wide range of cultural organizations and research facilities.

More than 40 years ago, the only option for earning a master’s degree in American and New England Studies was to attend Boston University, which I did at considerable expense.

Since its establishment, the American and New England Studies program at USM has offered Maine students a viable alternative and has enriched the life of the city and the state in the process. Its elimination would leave Maine a poorer state.

Earle G. Shettleworth Jr.

Maine state historian

Augusta