A proposal to host asylum seekers at Unity Environmental University sought to take advantage of the empty dorms on the 225-acre campus. That plan is now unlikely given the school’s decision to sell its property in Unity. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The Waldo County campus of Unity Environmental University is up for sale after years of consideration.

A&G Real Estate Partners announced Wednesday that the school, formerly known as Unity College, was accepting offers for the 225-acre property.

Unity Environmental University’s board of trustees has been weighing options for the largely vacant campus for years. In the most recent development, nonprofits and immigrant groups were hoping to create housing for asylum seekers in the empty dormitories – but money and concerns from townspeople posed a barrier.

A&G has not published the listing price for the campus. But according to Mainebiz, the town assessed the campus property at $26.8 million.

The choice to put the Unity campus on the market has been years in the making amid sweeping changes for Unity Environmental College.

The school first launched a remote education program in 2016, when it was still Unity College. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Maine colleges began welcoming students back to campus for the fall 2020 semester. But the Unity administration chose to maintain a fully remote program for the entire 2020-21 school year.


In August 2020, officials announced that the university was shifting its program to embrace hybrid learning and laid off 15% of its staff. That’s when officials first announced they were mulling over the sale of the campus in Unity.

The school shifted its headquarters to a new campus for environmental professions programs at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester in 2021. Earlier this year, the school was renamed Unity Environmental University. Meanwhile, enrollment has been on the upswing with 5,000 full-time students across all of its programs, the school said.

Even so, the Waldo County campus has been fairly empty. Only about 50 students are on the Unity campus at a time while several buildings have been largely vacant.

With that open space in mind, the Greater Portland Council of Governments began promoting an idea to house asylum seekers on the Unity campus in early July. The proposal was an attempt at relieving a housing crisis for over 1,600 asylum seekers who have come to Portland from Jan. 1 through July.

The idea received pushback from some officials and residents in Unity, who were concerned that the influx of people would overwhelm the town. But money has posed the largest obstacle. The plan would need $10 million, $7.8 million of which the council proposed to pay to Unity Environmental University. But MaineHousing spokesman Scott Thistle said in mid-July that there was no federal funding immediately available and no reservoir of state money to draw from.

Unity Environmental University President Melik Peter Khoury previously had said he’d consider a proposal. Those negotiations are ongoing, according to a spokesman from GPCOG.

This story was updated at noon on Friday to clarify the status of discussions with the Greater Portland Council of Governments. 

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