Ronald G. Cantor

Ronald G. Cantor

SMCC’s Midcoast Campus has always prided itself on bringing the benefits of a comprehensive college close to home for students from the Midcoast region.

These days, our reach is increasingly extending well beyond the Midcoast. Thanks to Orion Hall, our on-campus residence hall, we are drawing students from all across Maine, New England and beyond.

When it opened in the fall of 2015, Orion Hall had one floor of spacious student suites and was filled to capacity, with about 40 students. The demand exceeded our expectations and prompted us to open a second floor of suites this fall. Again, we are at capacity, with nearly 80 students.

The high demand is indicative of the large numbers of new students who are seeking out the Midcoast Campus with its full college experience, affordable tuition and hands-on learning.

If you look at this fall’s roster of students living in Orion Hall, you’ll find many from Midcoast towns including Brunswick, Topsham and Bath. They also hail from all across Maine, from Fort Fairfield and Caribou in the north to Kittery in the south to Vinalhaven 12 miles offshore.

The list goes well beyond the Maine border. We have students who live in Orion Hall who come from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont in New England. Others come from Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina and Arizona.

Danny O’Neil, who’s from Andover, Mass., is among those living in Orion this fall. He took three years off after graduating high school and, at age 21, is now pursuing his dream of becoming an elementary school teacher.

He was sold on the Midcoast Campus and Orion Hall after seeing what they had to offer. He’s now taking his core general education classes at the Midcoast Campus; come spring, he plans to commute to our South Portland Campus a few days a week for his education courses while taking his electives in Brunswick.

When scouting out colleges, he was looking for a place that was affordable, had a sense of community and had housing he’d be comfortable in.

“When I saw Orion Hall, I thought, ‘I’d be stupid not to come here,’” he says. “SMCC is the only place I found that made it all possible financially and with its living style and community.”

SMCC’s South Portland Campus for years has drawn students from near and far. Our Midcoast Campus is now doing the same.

Ron Cantor is the president of Southern Maine Community College.

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