FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington, the birthplace of public higher education in Maine, celebrates its 150th anniversary this academic year.

This historic milestone marks UMF’s passage from humble beginnings as the state’s first “Normal School” to that of a nationally recognized public liberal arts university of nearly 2,000 students.

Kathryn A. Foster, UMF president, say in a press release that she sees UMF’s yearlong sesquicentennial celebration as a wonderful opportunity to recognize the university’s long history of leadership, scholarship and rich partnership with the community.

For one and a half centuries, UMF has been a landmark for public higher education in the great state of Maine,” Foster said in the release. “Our continued success is a reflection of UMF’s educational excellence, resilience and enduring commitment to the liberal arts tradition. We welcome the community to join us this year as we celebrate the ideals that the university was founded on 150 years ago and that continue today.”

The school was first established as the Western State Normal School by the Maine State Legislature on Oct. 9, 1863. It officially opened on Aug. 24, 1864, and was dedicated to educating future teachers. In 1889, it became the Farmington State Normal School and built its longstanding reputation on the vision and determination of its leaders, as well as the scholarship and citizenship of its students.

The school would go on to grow and change, weather two world wars, expand its degree offerings and undergo several name changes. In 1971, it became the University of Maine at Farmington, providing a quality public liberal arts education in the arts and sciences, teacher education, pre-professional programs and helping all students to be successful.

“Farmington was the first public university established in Maine,” Chancellor James H. Page noted. “It’s provided a first-class education to multiple generations of citizens who, over the years, have done much to shape our state’s future and educate our children. UMF is a key educational resource for the state.”

A highlight of UMF’s 150th anniversary celebration is Charter Day, held Wednesday, Oct. 9. The day’s events are open to the public and will include a ceremony featuring honorable dignitaries, an array of cultural events, a festive picnic, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for local service projects and an evening reception full of lively art and performances at the Emery Community Arts Center and the UMF Art Gallery.

The anniversary will continue to be observed with a yearlong series of commemorative, academic and cultural events and exhibits. The Farmington Forum series will feature a tribute to UMF’s academic life. Events will focus on the six key academic disciplines of education, psychology, English, biology, mathematics and history. They will include in-depth lectures by visiting scholars, film and research presentations, art exhibits, panel discussions and alumni receptions.

A monthly Historical Character Exhibit will be on display at the UMF Mantor Library. This series will commemorate prominent figures from UMF’s history and tell the stories of influential administrators, professors and alumni through artifacts and photographs from the University’s library archives.

The Arts and Culture Series will feature a variety of exhibits, performances and concerts throughout the academic year at a variety of campus venues. Art installations include sculpture, painting, artifacts and oral histories, featuring alumni perspectives from as early as the 1920s. “Six Journeys in Maine” pairs original music written for the UMF Community Orchestra with poetry by UMF Emeritus Professor Wesley McNair, Maine’s poet laureate. An original play, written for the 150th celebration, will tell UMF’s story through a series of vignettes that span decades.

UMF’s sesquicentennial celebration is supported in part by the generous donations of area businesses and organizations, including Franklin Savings Bank, at the doctorate level; Sunday River, at the master’s level; and Hight Chevrolet Buick GMC, Kyes Insurance, Shiretown Insurance Agency, University Credit Union and Unity Foundation at the bachelor’s level.

For more information on UMF’s 150th anniversary celebration and event details, please visit UMF’s sesquicentennial website at

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