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GORHAM — The Gorham Town Council stands firm in its opposition to a proposed University of Southern Maine name change, Chairwoman Suzanne Phillips said Tuesday.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees announced Monday it has authorized leadership to seek approval from the Legislature to change the USM name to the University of Maine at Portland.

Gorham’s councilors on April 2 voted 5-1, with James Hager against, to adopt a resolution opposing the name change. The resolution said the town has a “unique history as a distinct college community with its own identity” and a name change would not be in the “best interests of the Gorham community.”

Phillips said Tuesday the same members who voted for the resolution remain on the council, with the exception of Paul Smith, and the resolution stands as the council’s opinion.

“I have heard from many Gorham residents that they feel this is a waste of money for the university and that it is disappointing since a lot of the USM activities are in Gorham,” Phillips said in an email.

She said the council’s resolution has been sent to the towns representatives in the Legislature.

James Erwin, chairman of the Maine System Board of Trustees, said in a university press release Monday that a name change would “strengthen” the university “by creating more clarity about its identity and improving its marketability.”

Erwin said trustees believe that with the name change the university would be “better able to achieve its full potential.”

Hager said Tuesday he supports the university’s re-branding as an effort to increase enrollment. Hager said a name change would be aimed at attracting more out-of-state students as an “infusion of new blood” into Maine.

Pointing out that a USM forerunner was named Gorham State Teachers College, Hager said the Gorham campus is well maintained and respected and that aura would remain under another name change. He applauded USM President Glenn Cummings’ quest for the change.

“It’s a marketing decision,” Hager said.

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