Portland, the largest city in Maine, has a rich and bursting history that illustrates courage and grit of its founders. Since 1632, when the first European settler Capt. Christopher Levett made the first attempt to found a settlement in Casco Bay, this area has changed several names: Machigonne, Casco and Falmouth. The settlement was destroyed and rebuilt lots of times. In 1786, the citizens of Falmouth, which grew into a large shipping center by that time, established a separate town in Falmouth Neck and named it Portland. But the destiny was merciless to its inhabitants, the city was shocked by numerous disasters: the Embargo Act of 1807, the War of 1812, the Portland Rum Riot in 1855 and the worst was the Great Fire of Portland, that occurred during the Independence Day celebration on July 4, 1866 and destroyed the entire financial and trade center of the city. However, Portland revived after all misfortunes and its endurance is reflected in Portland’s seal with a phoenix rising from ashes and the city’s motto Resurgam – “I will rise again” (Latin). In our days Portland is a thriving historic, cultural, educational, business, financial and retail center of Maine.
Education system of Maine is ranked among the top 10 nationally. All Maine’s schools and libraries, about 1200 sites, are connected through Nynex’s Frame Relay Service allowing internet access, besides 200 secondary schools are linked via technologically advanced ATM fiber optic based network. Maine takes the 12th place nationwide in educational investment. This results in high educational level of Maine’s residents in general and of Portland’s citizens in particular. For population 25 years and over in Portland 90.8% completed high school degree, 41.2% achieved bachelor’s degree, over 13% have master’s or professional degree which exceeds noticeably the national average rates.
Portland Public Schools is the largest school system in Maine, serving nearly 7,000 students. There are 16 public schools, 12 private schools and 6 post-secondary schools in Portland. The student to teacher ratio for public schools is 12:1 which is significantly less than Maine’s (14:1) and national (16:1) ratio.
The three largest schools of the higher education within 25 miles of Portland include the University of Southern Maine, the University of New England and Southern Maine Community College. There are also the University of Maine School of Law, the Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, the Bowdoin College, the Andover College, Maine College of Art, Pierre’s School of Cosmetology, Intercoast Career Institute and Spa Tech Institute.
The University of Southern Maine (USM) is a multi-campus public four-year university with an enrollment over 10,000 students established in 1878. USM is a member of University of Maine System. It has three primary campuses located in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston and offers more than 115 areas undergraduate and graduate study. The Portland Campus is home to the School of Business, Muskie School of Public Service, the School of Nursing, the School of Social Work along with the University of Maine School of Law as well as outstanding programs in applied sciences, technology and creative writing. The primary academic areas of the Portland campus are business, nursing, political science, history, economics, biology, sociology, chemistry, physics, math, English, media studies, psychology, modern and classical languages and literatures, American and New England studies. Additionally, the University of Southern Maine offers online degree programs in organization and leadership, communication, counseling and teacher education. For several years up through 2011 the University of Southern Maine has been recognized as one of the Best Northeastern Colleges by the Princeton Review.
The University of Maine School of Law is administered as a unit of USM but officially the Law School is not a part of the University of Southern Maine. Maine Law is Maine’s only law school and it is home to only 260 students, which makes it one of the smallest law schools in the country. The size of school allows to create unique educational atmosphere and sense of community favorable for personalized student/faculty interaction. The Law School is strong in business and commercial law, environmental and marine law, intellectual property and technology law, international law, clinical programs, and trial advocacy. The University of Maine School of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools.
The University of New England (UNE), a private four-year university with total enrollment 7,330 students, offers a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs. It operates two campuses in Biddeford and Portland, Maine. The Biddeford Campus houses the College of Arts and Sciences as well as College of Osteopathic Medicine. The campus in Portland is home of the College of Pharmacy and the Westbrook College of Health Professions and it offers undergraduate programs in dental hygiene and nursing and graduate programs in nurse anesthesia, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant and social work. In 2010 UNE was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Universities” in the North.
Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), a public two-year college, offers more than 45 degree and certificate programs and serves over 7,000 students. SMCC’s academic programs include applied technology, biotechnology, liberal studies, marine biology & oceanography, business administration, computer technology, culinary arts, nursing, paramedicine, surgical technology and criminal justice. Southern Maine Community College prepares students to begin a career immediately upon graduation or allows them to continue their education at a four-year college or university.
Portland, Maine is a remarkable city that amazingly consolidates amenities of a metropolitan area with rich historical inheritance, perfect physical setting, reviving recreation facilities, outstanding educational opportunities and friendliness of a small town, which makes it one of the most livable cities in the U.S. Recently Portland was ranked 4th among the “10 perfect places to live in America” and that confirms its status of a wonderful place to live, to study, to work and to do business..
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