Since its earliest days, Portland has suffered more than its share of adversity, including four devastating fires. Yet, with resilience, perseverance, commitment and investment, Portland, and Portlanders, have always rebounded and rebuilt, living up to their motto: “Resurgam,” or “I will rise again.”

Today, Portland is a dynamic city with an even brighter future.

It makes just about every national magazine list for best small cities to live in. It is a tourist destination. A dining destination. A cultural destination. A shopping destination. A popular port of call. Greater Portland is the state’s economic hub. The announcement of a significant commercial or residential development project in the city is almost a daily occurrence.

Why is that? Luck? Hardly.

As in past times of trouble and economic downturn, we have been very fortunate here in Portland to have so many visionary people, organizations and businesses – both native Mainers and welcome newcomers – whose imagination, entrepreneurial spirit, energy, hard work and capital have transformed and continue to transform every aspect of our city’s life.

Where others saw only challenges and feared failure, Portland’s 21st-century transformers saw rare opportunities and a better future.


So too with our organization – Invest in USM. We see both opportunity and a better future for the University of Southern Maine. We seek to emulate their “invest, transform and rise again” formula that has worked so well for Portland.

Yes, the University of Southern Maine has its challenges. USM’s budget deficits have been well chronicled, and interim President David Flanagan has made the elimination of that deficit his top priority. Fiscal responsibility is important.

But Invest in USM sees a parallel path that must also be traveled. We do not believe that we can cut and shrink our way to USM’s success. Quite the opposite. For this reason, we have formally asked Flanagan to convene and co-host an Invest in USM Summit as soon as possible.

We see an opportunity right here, right now, to transform USM into a first-class university that will make Portland the college education destination it can and should be for Maine students as well as for students throughout the rest of the country and abroad.

So many of the pieces are here in Portland. This great city can and will be enhanced further by a vibrant, growing University of Southern Maine. We need to fit the pieces all together to increase our enrollment and broaden our course offerings to both undergraduate and graduate students who will be superbly prepared to take our city and state to the next level of success.

To do that we need – and we welcome – all the help and ideas we can get.


For USM to rise again, we know that we must tap into our community’s deep well of ideas, experience and energy in ways we have not done in the past. We have encouraged Flanagan to help us reach out to all sectors of the community with invitations to the Invest in USM Summit.

We also invite members of the community to learn more about, join and help build our coalition – Invest in USM.

Our group already comprises a significant number of community members, alumni, students, staff and faculty from throughout southern Maine. We are working together on this vital initiative to invest in a USM that will reflect the energy and momentum of the city and the region where USM is located.

We strongly believe that this investment in USM will fuel the engine of economic and societal growth in our region. But investment in USM also means so many important things aside from financial support: time, energy, ideas, experience. We all have a chance to invest.

Our business is urgent; the mission clear. Invest in USM will articulate a vision of where we believe the university should be in two years, five years and 10 years from now. We will answer both the all-important “why” and “how” with an execution plan that is aspirational, inspirational and financially sustainable.

Please join us. It matters.

— Special to the Press Herald

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