University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.  Sun Journal file photo

Big decisions await the University of Maine System board of trustees as a plan evolves to move the Lewiston campus downtown, possibly within two years.

The board’s Finance, Facilities & Technology Committee on Wednesday heard an update on the project at a meeting in Orono.

The move would involve “financial, academic and political considerations,” University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings told the committee.

He said he would come back to the committee soon with an academic vision, market sale data, parking plans and alternative options — “any way we can do this other than stay or move downtown.”

Officials confirmed in October a plan to move USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College on the outskirts of Lewiston to the city’s downtown.

According to agenda notes, the L-A College property at 51 and 61 Westminster St. has been valued at an estimated $2.4 million to $2.7 million.

No downtown location has been identified, but USM Chief Operating Officer Nancy Griffin said in October: “There are already intriguing possibilities and very attractive options to explore in downtown Lewiston.”

The move would offer “opportunities for greater presence, a convenient location within walking distance for the immigrant community, an opportunity for us to think strategically about the (state’s) third-largest metropolitan area,” University of Maine at Augusta President Rebecca Wyke told the committee. Portland and Bangor are the first- and second-largest metro areas, respectively.

Under the plan, UMA’s Lewiston Center on the LAC campus also would move to the downtown.

“UMA and USM have deepened their dialogue about greater partnership and a new academic vision and are working closely together on the potential relocation,” according to agenda notes for Wednesday’s meeting.

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

USM Provost Jeannine Uzzi said then that academic offerings would be expanded and that the new location would allow space for LAC’s Senior College and its Franco-American Collection.

The move must be approved by the university system’s board of trustees.


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