Changing the name of the University of Southern Maine to the University of Maine at Portland seems like a desperate marketing exercise.

Supposedly, more out-of-state students will apply if “Portland” is in the name. I have to wonder if we want students who are not bright enough to know where the school is. Or if students will abandon “UMP” when they see how many fine programs are in Gorham or that the Portland arts community is busy relocating to Biddeford for affordable studio and performance space.

More to the point, I wonder if the name is actually a problem. Maybe USM leaders are just inept at attracting students. Or maybe students reject USM for the cost of living here and the scarcity of housing. USM is a good school and shouldn’t need a new name to be attractive.

The Legislature better review the expense of this idea. Doubtless there’s a “branding” consultant on board to get the logo right, and then there are the signs, the stationery, the athletic uniforms and so on. Bottom line, the name change looks like a limp excuse turning into a costly boondoggle.

Let’s watch our wallets on this one.

Joe O’Donnell


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