May 4, 2013

MECA makes a fine art of recruiting

The effort to attract talented students from as far as China – and from Maine – is part of a larger mission to build the school's profile.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Jason Cornell, the admissions counselor at the Maine College of Art, talks to students from Belfast High School about attending MECA on April 23, 2013.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Maine College of Art President Don Tuski meets with students from Belfast High School about attending MECA on April 23, 2013.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

After Tuski's introduction, Cornell offered a multimedia presentation that touted MECA's academic programs as well as the city life of Portland. Students who choose MECA can learn any number of skills, including painting and sculpture, as well as woodworking, illustration, and textiles and fashion design, he said.

The trip yielded results.

Cody Williams, a 17-year-old senior from Northport, finished up his paperwork that afternoon and left Tuski and Cornell with a completed application, including examples of his work. He's been thinking about art school since his junior year, and he started giving serious consideration to MECA last fall when Cornell made an early recruiting trip.

"That was key for me, because it helped me imagine what it would be like to go to school in Portland," Williams said. "I like the idea of a small school, and I like what I heard."

If he does enroll, Williams will have company. Among the students already committed to MECA for the fall is 18-year-old Celeste Pelletier of Belfast, one of his classmates. She chose MECA because she got a "good vibe" when she visited. "I liked the people and I liked the experience I had when I was there," she said.

MECA has about 400 students pursuing degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels. About 34 percent of the undergraduate students come from Maine. Tuition is $30,260 before financial aid and scholarships.

The school offers bachelor's degrees in 10 studio majors, as well as an MFA in studio arts.

The among the undergraduates is 28-year-old new media major Chun-Cha Chang from Taiwan.

She toured MECA in 2007 and enrolled in 2009 when she moved to Portland with her husband, who grew up in Maine.

They debated moving to New York and Philadelphia, and settled on Portland in part because MECA's small size appealed to her.

"The schools we looked at down there are so big. You don't get to talk to the president or the dean. But MECA is so small, I actually know the president and the dean here," said Chang, who studied advertising in Taiwan and worked as a graphic designer before coming to the United States.

Another foreign student, Kwan Kha Tsui of Hong Kong, chose MECA sight unseen. "I had been told by many people that Maine is a beautiful place, so that added to my interest in MECA," said the freshman. "I had never visited the school, nor had I been to America before. I had to come to Portland by myself from the other side of the world."

That pleases Tuski to no end, and gives him hope for the future.

While in Shanghai on his recent recruiting trip, Tuski put together a small gathering for MECA graduates and others associated with the school who live there. He wasn't sure what to expect, but 18 people showed up.

That made an impression -- and confirmed his instincts that MECA's appeal reaches across continents.

"Here we are, little Maine College of Art hosting an alumni event in Shanghai and 18 people show up. Who would have thought it? It's wonderful."


Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

Twitter: pphbkeyes


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

On Friday, May 03, 2013, MECA student Chun-Cha Chang cleans out her cubicle she used at the Maine College of Art of the many items she made and use to decorate her space.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)