Senator Collins Highlights UMaine System’s “One University” Initiative

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A with hearing witness

Note to assignment and news directors: Click HERE for high-quality video of Senator Collins’ Q&A with hearing witness



Washington, D.C. – The Senate Education Committee held a hearing today titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Access and Innovation.”  This was the third in a series of hearings the Committee is holding to examine key higher education policy issues in preparation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).


During the hearing, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Education Committee, raised the University of Maine System’s “One University” initiative as a potential model for system-wide university accreditation.  Launched in 2015, this initiative aims to improve coordination among the University of Maine’s seven institutions.  Current law, however, requires individual institutions to be approved by an accreditor.  This is the case regardless of whether the institutions are included in the same system.


Senator Collins asked Dr. Barbara Brittingham, President of the Commision Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges to “expand on what the benefits would be of a system-wide accreditation, perhaps using Maine as an example.”


“I was impressed to learn that Aroostook County is bigger than Rhode Island and Connecticut in land mass, so we’re talking about large distances,” and “very challenging demographics,” said Dr. Brittingham.  “With the One University Initiative, the Chancellor and the Board want to make sure that they do everything possible to make as many educational opportunities available to Maine students of all ages,” and, “one of the things that they are doing is trying to make educational experiences from one institution available to students at another.”


Witnesses testifying at today’s hearing:


  • Joe May, Chancellor, Dallas County Community College District, Dallas, TX
  • Donna Linderman, University Dean for Student Success Initiatives, City University of New York, New York, NY
  • Barbara Brittingham, President, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and College, Burlington, MA
  • Deborah Bushway, Consultant, Competency-Based Education Network, Provost, Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, MN
  • Michael Larsson, President, Match Beyond, Boston, MA


Click HERE to read the witnesses’ testimonies.