Maine College of Art is adding “& Design” to its name to better reflect the 140-year-old arts school’s scope of academic programs, the college announced Tuesday.

The name change for the 140-year-old college is part of a strategic plan to help “attract, educate and support future generations of creative thinkers,” said Laura Freid, president of MECA&D.

That plan also includes creating a living and learning center for students within walking distance of the college’s main building on Congress Street. College officials said they are exploring several sites in downtown Portland for the building.

The name change reflects the college’s broader range of academic offerings, officials said, and the fact that 60 percent of MECA&D’s students are pursuing design careers.

Freid said the need to tweak the name became apparent as the college set out developing its strategic plan.

“At one point, we all realized that it was time to expand our name, restate our commitment to all artists and designers, embrace our evolution and place the value of inclusivity at the forefront of our work,” Freid said. “I see the ‘&D’ as a symbol of that process.”


Freid said the college drew on its students, faculty, staff and alumni to help create the new identity and map out the plan for the college.

“During the strategic planning process, we set out as a community to identify challenges and opportunities for the future of the college,” she said. “Together, we envisioned a world enriched by artists and designers who are empowered to create with profound and practical impact.”

The strategic plan calls for the college to advance academic excellence; further develop a culture of social change, racial justice and inclusion; broaden MECA&D’s reach through distance learning; create the living and learning center in Portland; and commit to a sustainable financial plan for the coming decades.

“We’re confident that as we head into the future anchored by our five strategic goals, we will accelerate the college’s growth and be able to educate, guide and inspire tomorrow’s creative leaders to make art, make an impact and inspire change in the world,” Freid said.

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