PARIS — The University of Maine Augusta is closing its South Paris Center on Main Street. Effective July 1, the Center’s student services will transition to a Distance Learning Site, administered by Oxford Hills Adult Education. Director Jim Bradley said the change reflects how most students already approach their college work.

“The overwhelming majority of UMA South Paris students take their classes online,” said Bradley. “They only utilize the Center for test proctoring and advising services, both of which will continue through our new partnership with Adult Ed, or through our Rumford or Lewiston Centers.”

The shift to distance learning will allow UMA to expand educational services at its Lewiston Center, a location that has seen significant growth since its inception two years ago.

“Our Lewiston Center is currently understaffed and under-resourced to meet student demand,” Bradley said. “The South Paris staff will transfer to the Lewiston Center, allowing us to expand classes and student support.”

UMA already has more than 20 Distance Learning Sites across the state and many are connected to adult education programs, according to Bradley. He said that South Paris joins a well established partnership model ensuring higher education access to rural communities without enough students to support a full college campus or center.

Bradley said that SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts and the Adult Education Director Tina Christophersen both support taking on management of UMA’s local distance learning site. The three continue to work out specific details for the change.

Colpitts said that while co-locating with UMA in one building has had its benefits SAD 17 is happy to gain some space.

“Our administrative offices are pretty cramped,” Colpitts said. “Having the complete building available gives us options to house new programs. We may utilize the space a for a professional development wing.”

UMA students were notified starting on January 16 through multiple emails and a letter mailed to home addresses. Two open informational meetings were held at the South Paris Center on January 29.

The change becomes official on July 1. Students in Oxford Hills may continue taking classes online, either through delay viewing or through the use of Zoom technology. UMA is implementing Zoom across the state ahead of that date. Instead of going to the South Paris Center to have exams proctored, students will go down the street to the Adult Education office at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

UMA’s Rumford Center will provide local advising to students through by email, zoom, and phone contact, and on-site at Oxford Hills Adult Ed as needed. Students who want to continue attending live, onsite courses are encouraged to do so at UMA’s Rumford and Lewiston Centers. Full support services will also be available to students at those Centers.


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