A $1 million grant to the University of Maine System will help make technology improvements at health care and higher education sites to allow for improved distance learning and telehealth around the state.

The grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will fund technology improvements at 42 locations including 26 web-conference enabled classrooms that will expand the statewide reach of the Maine Graduate and Professional Center’s existing smart classrooms in Portland and Orono to other campuses and learning centers.

The technology improvements, scheduled for completion by fall 2022, will also allow for a rural telemedicine initiative between the University of Maine School of Nursing and Penobscot Community Health Center and collaboration between the university system and Northern Light Health to offer healthcare and education in rural areas.

The grant will allow the University of Maine School of Law to place more students in internships and clinicals in rural areas where legal services are most lacking, while remaining connected to their supervisors and faculty in the Portland area.

“We have proven through COVID that we can learn and work at a distance if we have the infrastructure it takes to stay connected and interactive,” said UMaine Chancellor Dan Malloy in a news release. “We built the Maine Center to bring people, ideas and resources together to solve challenging problems. With the support of the Maine Congressional delegation, and collaboration among all our universities and Northern Light Health, we are going to bring world-class leadership education and better health to rural Maine communities.”

The USDA grant is being counted toward matching funds the system needs to secure as part of a grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation last fall that will fund scholarships, integrated program development across disciplines and a new building to house the center and the University of Maine School of Law.

The system Tuesday also announced a $1 million grant from Bobby Monks and Bonnie Porta of Cape Elizabeth in support of the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.

The center brings together programs in law, business, policy and public health to train the workforce and support Maine’s economy.

Comments are no longer available on this story