SMCC celebrates anniversary of first classes on South Portland Campus

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Southern Maine Community College commemorated the anniversary of the opening date of its South Portland Campus in a ceremony Wednesday that included video tributes, personal stories, and remarks about SMCC’s storied history.

SMCC was founded in 1946 as the Maine Vocational Technical Institute in Augusta. When it outgrew its space in Augusta, MVTI moved in 1952 to SMCC’s current location on the site of decommissioned Fort Preble overlooking Casco Bay in South Portland. It opened for classes on Oct. 6 of that year.

“The move to South Portland was a milestone year for what is now Southern Maine Community College,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “We had 120 first-year students that fall, all machinery and office furniture were World War II surplus, and some students used doors laid flat for desktops. Our world is different now, but what hasn’t changed is our commitment to prepare people for careers with bright futures, our partnerships with businesses and organizations, and our contributions to Maine’s diverse economy.”

Wednesday’s ceremony was part of SMCC’s continuing celebration in honor of the College’s 75th anniversary. The event included video tributes that were shown on a large screen from Maine Gov. Janet Mills, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Maine Community College System President David Daigler.

In addition to Cassidy, other speakers included SMCC alumna Ilaha Osmani Azizi, who now attends the University of Southern Maine; SMCC Faculty Senate President Rachel Guthrie; SMCC Instructor Rosemarie DeAngelis; SMCC Vice President and Academic Dean Paul Charpentier; and former state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, who sponsored the bill in the Legislature that created the SMCC Midcoast Campus in Brunswick, which opened in 2011.

Azizi and her family moved to Maine from Afghanistan in 2014. She was 18, couldn’t speak English and didn’t know anything about the American way of life. She came to SMCC for the education she knew she needed for a bright future.

She said the academics were challenging during her time at SMCC, but she found support from helpful professors, the Learning Commons and the TRIO Student Support Services program.

“Sometimes I was anxious, but with their support, I kept moving forward,” she said. “I am grateful for this opportunity to thank the people of SMCC, because you made a difference in my life.”

For more information about SMCC’s 75th anniversary, please visit the SMCC 75th anniversary webpage.