In the recent kerfuffle regarding budget cuts at the University of Southern Maine, President Theodora Kalikow announced plans for USM to become a distinctive “metropolitan university.” As I recall, these plans were to appear in early April (on a Wednesday). To my knowledge, they have yet to emerge, at least publicly.

In the meantime, the bones of the idea appeared through editorial opinions, demonstrations and passionate defenses of key programs by faculty, alumni and students. That folks in Portland and nearby towns talked about what USM did for them spoke volumes.

We should encourage the advancement of the idea of a “metropolitan university,” not as a PR package, but as a distinctive and worthy venture. Empower the faculty to do what it can do well beyond good teaching: develop curriculum and adventures in learning (field experiences, internships, collaborations, off-campus courses and the like).

Parker G. Marden

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