Ex-MBNA land in state eyed as site for college

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NORTHPORT (AP) – A conference center and corporate retreat once owned by the MBNA credit card company is being eyed as a possible college campus.

The state Board of Education has formed a committee to review plans by Founders College to establish the college at the former MBNA Point Lookout center that overlooks Penobscot Bay. The board last week appointed five Maine educators to review the school’s request for degree-granting authority to award Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees.

Gary Hull, a Duke University professor, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Founders College. The school has been in the planning stages for years; sites in Virginia and North Carolina were also being considered as a possible location, he said.

Founders College would be “like any of the other private liberal arts colleges in the country,” Hull said. But he declined to go into detail about the proposal until the school gets a state license that is required under state law to issue degrees.

“There are a lot of ifs, and one of the biggest is the licensing,” Hull said. “Until we get over this licensing hurdle, there’s not much to say. … Right now, there are too many imponderables.”

Point Lookout, which was built by MBNA in the late 1990s, sits on about 400 acres on Ducktrap Mountain between Belfast and Camden and is now owned by Bank of America, which purchased MBNA effective Jan. 1.

Bank of America has put the property on the market for $26.4 million. It has conference halls, residences, food service buildings, athletic fields, a fitness center and a gymnasium and would fit “perfectly” as a college, Hull said.

Hull said the coastal setting would make an attractive place for prospective students and faculty. “It’s the perfect college town-type setting,” he said. “Perfect for what the students want and perfect for what the staff and faculty want.”

The board of education committee has scheduled a site visit at Point Lookout for next month. If everything falls into place, Founders College could open in the fall 2007, Hall said.

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