Committed to equity and excellence, the University of Southern Maine advances a culture of inquiry and belonging in which research, creativity, and innovation accelerate transformational development in our students, on our campuses, and in our communities.

Our History

On December 26, 1878, 700 people braved a snowstorm to hear 14 speeches — one of which clocked in at more than one hour — at the opening of Corthell Hall, the first university building in Gorham. The Gothic-style building was constructed at a cost of $23,170 and dedicated to the education of teachers, who were in short supply. (By comparison, our Upper Class residence hall, complete with apartment/suite style quarters, carried a $21 million price tag in 2007.)

Some 40 years later, soon after the end of World War I, Portland University opened on the second floor of a commercial building, located just off Monument Square in downtown Portland. The University was established in response to the lack of educational opportunities for accountants.

These two events share two things in common; both celebrated the openings of institutions envisioned as doorways leading to successful careers that later morphed into the University of Southern Maine. 

On September 6, 1988, our Lewiston-Auburn College (LAC) opened its doors to 673 students on Westminster Street in Lewiston. In January of 1989, LAC enrolled 840 students, 167 more than the first semester. Enrollment has continued to grow at LAC, but it’s only one measure of the region’s support for the college. LAC’s establishment and growth are a direct result of the interdisciplinary nature and community focus of its curriculum.