An aerial photo of the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College.

LEWISTON — University of Southern Maine officials confirmed plans Wednesday to relocate Lewiston-Auburn College to a downtown location that has yet to be determined.

USM President Glenn Cummings presented a “new vision” for the college to employees Wednesday, confirming plans to relocate its campus from Westminster Street on the outskirts of Lewiston to the city’s downtown, according to an announcement from USM.

“We believe strongly that relocating our campus to downtown Lewiston will provide meaningful new opportunities and possibilities that will better meet the needs of the Lewiston-Auburn region and its people,” Cummings said.

The Sun Journal previously reported on the potential move this summer, with some questioning what the move would mean for the college.

Cummings said Wednesday the benefits of the move include making the college more accessible to downtown residents, employers, health care facilities and organizations.

USM Provost Jeannine Uzzi and USM Chief Operating Officer Nancy Griffin were also in on the presentation.


“We are in the process of finalizing an exciting academic vision for LAC that will respond to regional needs in healthcare delivery,” Uzzi said. “We will also continue working with the University of Maine at Augusta to expand academic offerings, and ensure that our new location includes crucial space for both our Senior College and our Franco-American Collection.”

USM officials said Griffin reviewed the relocation timeline with employees, estimating a three-year process that would require University of Maine System board of trustees approval, the sale of its current building and securing and outfitting new space in downtown Lewiston.

Griffin told the Sun Journal on Wednesday the three-year timeline is an estimate based on the trustees process and sale of the college’s parcels at 51 and 61 Westminster St.

University officials did not say what locations, if any, are under consideration. However, Griffin said, “there are already intriguing possibilities and very attractive options to explore in downtown Lewiston.”

Griffin said once the board of trustees approves the sale, allowing the college to use the funds for a building lease or purchase, a request-for-proposals will be issued for a lease or purchase agreement for the fall of 2022.

“But, we have started to investigate, as you can imagine, to make sure that there were options for us, and there seems to be plenty,” she said.

Just last week, developer Tom Platz, who has an option agreement with the city to buy Bates Mill No. 5, told the Bangor Daily News he has three tenants ready to sign leases for the building. Platz has not disclosed the businesses. Bates Mill No. 5 is the last, and largest, of the Bates Mill complex buildings to be redeveloped.

When university officials embarked on a study this summer, several on the college’s community advisory board said more programs and more support from USM were more important than moving. While the Portland USM campus has received robust backing, marketing of USM-LAC has been nonexistent, others said.

“Our commitment to LAC and the Androscoggin region is strong and unwavering,” Cummings said. “When all is said and done, we will have a more vibrant LAC, more engaged with the community and better suited to meeting the needs of its people and employers.”

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