As of Saturday, Bangor’s Husson College will officially become Husson University, with doctoral programs already in physical therapy and pharmacy and prospectively in ministry, law and medicine.
President William H, Beardsley, in one of Husson’s business breakfasts last week, traced the institution’s growth in 110 years, from the Shaw Business College and School of Penmanship in second-floor offices at the corner of Hammond and Central streets and a little nursing school at Bangor General Hospital. Now it has a sweeping campus off Broadway offering 30 degrees and with an entering class of 900 students.
Husson’s advanced degrees typify the school’s continuing role in providing truly vocational education. It offers professional doctorates rather than liberal arts, engineering or research Ph.D.s. As President Beardsley put it, “In those great fields, to Bowdoin, Bates, Colby and the University of Maine, we yield the honors.” He said that “our undergraduate liberal arts degrees are not intellectual ends in themselves but rather they lead to a profession.” Its Bachelor of Science degree in English is really pre-law. Its bachelor’s degree in psychology “leads to licensure, not Jung or Freud.”
Much of Mr. Beardsley’s 40-minute lecture outlined Husson’s part in working with local businesses and institutions in what he envisaged as a “rising tide” of economic development in this region with Bangor as its hub. He recalled timely help the college received from Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor Hydro and Bangor Saving Bank.
In return, Husson has provided homes on its campus for the Bangor Theological Seminary, the Bangor Symphony and local family businesses at the Dyke Center. It recently acquired the Boat School in Eastport, which had seven students in 2007, has 18 this fall, and has a goal of 100 students by 2013.
He envisaged a brilliant future for the economy of Bangor, the Penobscot Valley and Eastern Maine through this “neighboring,” and the region’s undeniable assets: its position on the great-circle and maritime routes between the United States and Europe, its natural seaport at Sears Island, its nearby largest contiguous commercial forest east of the Mississippi, its world-class sailing ground, its world-class genetic and biological research, and its hydro, tidal, wind and bio-fuels resources as well as likely offshore oil and gas reserves. In addition, the region is a seasonal destination for “some of the wealthiest and most influential leaders in the world.”
But this rosy prospect, he said, has some needs: cheap electricity, as it used to have before deregulation. Better capitalization, for example to make a paper mill like Finland’s, which can produce more in two hours than ours can produce in a week. Incentive, rather than the present “prescriptive” regulations. A “private” East-West Highway.
One can question Mr. Beardsley’s reliance on “the invisible hand of the marketplace” and see that government can help, too, in building, say, an East-West Highway. But his vision of a bright future is well worth study and pursuit.