AUGUSTA — Maine’s university and community college systems signed a sweeping agreement on Monday that will allow students to complete more than a year of general education classes and transfer them between any of the state’s 14 public institutions.

Credit transferability has long confounded state higher education officials. While credits have been moved between the two types of institutions for years, some can’t be and the credits that are transferable are governed by a patchwork system of more than 150 agreements between specific departments.

The deal, signed at a ceremony with Gov. Paul LePage at the University of Maine at Augusta’s Randall Student Center, takes effect in June 2016 and allows students to transfer up to 35 credits between institutions. Most states have similar agreements in place, and officials hailed the agreement as a way to reduce costs and ease educational mobility for students.

“With this agreement, we are ensuring the same learning outcomes, same expectations and same credit for our students across all 14 of Maine’s public colleges and universities so Maine learners can more easily and affordably progress along the path to advancement,” said James Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System.

Transferring already worked for Brett Brockway, a 2006 graduate of Winslow High School who worked while getting an associate degree at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. Afterward, he transferred to UMA, getting a business degree that sent him to work at Athenahealth, a health records management company with a location in Belfast.

“My feeling is that if you’re too highly leveraged today, you’re not going to make bold decisions,” Brockway said. “Throughout my company, I look at the bold people and they’re not indebted to some huge degree or something, and I think this program does that for people.”


Maine Community College System interim President Derek Langhauser called the current system “a complicated and oftentimes inefficient process” that has frustrated students starting in the cheaper, two-year community college system and transitioning to a four-year degree program at a state university.

In a recent three-year period, 42 percent of Maine community college graduates pursued further education with 40 percent of them doing that in the state university system, according to the agreement, which comes on the heels of a similar pilot project announced in 2014 between the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College.

Now the community college system will increase its general education requirements from 22 to 34 or 35, matching the university system. Faculty committees in both systems are working to align curriculum and develop common assessments.

Maine is one of just eight states without a transferable core of lower-level classes, according to a 2014 document prepared by a group working with the Lumina Foundation, a student advocacy group. In 2013, a legislative committee on Maine’s workforce recommended solving credit transfer issues between the community college and university systems.

Increasing their synergy has been a prime LePage goal since he campaigned for a first term in 2010, and earlier this year it produced one of the biggest examples of the pugnacious Republican wielding the political power of his office. In January, LePage abruptly announced that he wanted the resignation of John Fitzsimmons, then the president of the Maine Community College System, with the governor’s office citing stalled progress on a transfer agreement as a reason. Five days later Fitzsimmons left the post he held since 1990.

Page said when he first met with the governor after he took the chancellor job in 2012, LePage’s “very first complete sentence” to him was about credit transferability.


“It’s a standard of cooperation we need to expect from our public higher education systems and the start of more to come for Maine students,” LePage said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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