Long considered the jewel of the University of Maine System, the University of Maine at Farmington is Maine’s nationally recognized public liberal arts college, offering quality programs in teacher education, human services and arts & sciences.
It’s the affordable public equivalent of a small, private liberal arts college — a special place where students receive individual attention and where ideas are exchanged and concepts explored in highly personalized settings: in classes, workshops, labs, studios and more.
Farmington is a small, residential campus peacefully nestled in the spectacular lakes & mountains region of western Maine, near Sugarloaf and Sunday River and smack in the middle of the best skiing, hiking, kayaking and rafting in the northeast. If you’re into the outdoors, this is the perfect place to spend your college years.
Maine’s Nationally Recognized Public Liberal Arts College
The campus is in historic downtown Farmington, just a short walk away from coffee shops, funky stores, restaurants, banks, bookstores, a multi-screen movie theater and a whole lot more. Our perfect location combines the active outdoor lifestyle with the arts & smarts of a small college town.
With enrollment at around 1,600 full-time students, UMF is about the same size as many of New England’s most selective private colleges and offers many of the same advantages, yet at a very affordable price — providing a tremendous college value in a spectacular natural setting.
Established in 1864 as Maine’s first public institution of higher education, the University of Maine at Farmington is a founding member of The Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) an exclusive national group of public colleges and universities committed to providing superior liberal arts and sciences education.
Who is the University of Maine at Farmington?
- A Nationally Ranked public university, recognized for its academic excellence, educational value and inclusion.
- An Outdoorsy College located in the heart of world class skiing and snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking, kayaking and rafting.
- An Affordable, high-quality, residential, liberal arts college. Just $19,809 per year for Maine residents. As low as $25,665 per year for non-Maine residents — that’s tuition, fees, room & board.
- A school that offers challenging and innovative Academic Programs in the arts and sciences, teacher preparation, and other pre-professional fields.
- A small, friendly campus where Students are the center of the universe.
- A place where caring Professors work side by side with students — in research, creative endeavors, in the classroom and outside.
- An institution that offers unparalleled research opportunities — often at the level and depth found at graduate school.
- A campus of 1,600 bright, creative, independent-minded students who thrive on challenges.
- A college where students work hard but also enjoy kicking back and having Fun — lots of fun.
- A quirky yet warm-hearted, accepting community where it’s OK to be you.
We may not be for everyone but we just might be the perfect place for you.
As a premier teacher education and public liberal arts college for the state of Maine, the University of Maine at Farmington prepares students for engaged citizenship, enriching professional careers, and an enduring love of learning.
Values and Vision
Given its history since 1864 of educating teachers and its distinctive contemporary mission as a public liberal arts college, the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) has consistently been rooted in a vigorous tradition of education in service to the public interest. In embracing this tradition, UMF seeks to graduate individuals who will live purposeful, ethical, and personally rewarding lives, and who will strengthen the social fabric of the communities they inhabit in Maine and beyond. We recognize that success depends upon our ability to preserve continued, affordable access to higher education.
The University’s focus is undergraduate education in a residential setting. UMF also provides limited graduate education and welcomes commuter students and continuing education opportunities where regional and statewide needs correspond with areas of academic strength in the University. Through its focus on high quality academic programs in the arts and sciences, teacher education, and selected professional fields, the University challenges students to be active citizens in a campus community that helps them find and express with confidence their own voices, teaches them the humility to seek wisdom from others, and prepares them for ongoing explorations of how knowledge can be put to use for their personal benefit and the common good.
Across our programs, academic rigor matters, as does a commitment to experience-based learning that enlivens theoretical understandings of different disciplines and the relationship of those studies to a rapidly changing world. An ethic of civic-mindedness and individual and collective duty to foster positive social change is realized through the practice of liberal learning and a recognition that innovation, collaboration, and service with community partners is fundamental to the educational enterprise.
UMF’s sense of place is shaped by the aesthetic, environmental, recreational, and intellectual heritage of the western Maine region. The bounty of the landscape and the locale contributes materially to a range of academic fields at UMF, to the exciting diversity of the extra- and co-curricular life of the University, and to our reciprocal relationships in support of the important work of our neighbors in western Maine. To fulfill its complementary responsibilities to the region and to the State, the University also reaches out to national and international domains to broaden students’ educational experience and assure that they are well prepared for employment and citizenship in contexts that are richly diverse and global.
— Approved 9/22/14 by the University of Maine System Board of Trustees
Our History: Excellence in public higher education for 150 years.
The University of Maine at Farmington’s history is firmly rooted in the early 19th century. Though generations of changes have come and gone, many of the ideals behind our founding are as fresh and important today as they were then, most notably that a solid foundation of Liberal Arts is essential to becoming a valuable and adaptable member of society.
How it all Began
In 1857, a convention of teachers from Franklin County resolved, “That the interests of our common schools, and the teachers having them in charge, not only require the fostering care of the State, but most imperatively demand the immediate establishment of that long neglected source of improvement, a State Normal School … and as teachers of Franklin County, we would respectfully, yet earnestly, request the early attention of our present Legislature to the endowment and establishment of such an institution.”
In March 1863, amidst much heated argument, a Normal School Act finally passed into law, and that fall, Farmington was chosen from a list of possible locations for the first normal school, making the University of Maine at Farmington (aka, UMF) the first public institution of higher education in the entire State of Maine.
From Humble Beginnings
On August 24, 1864, 31 students gathered in an attic above a downtown commercial building, called Beal’s Hall, where they met until they were able to move into their new building that winter. The new home of what was to be called the Farmington Normal School was described as “rough, crude, and plenty humble” by UMF historian Richard P. Mallett. Today, Merrill Hall, UMF’s original Main Street home and now the oldest public building on a Maine campus, is anything but rough, crude and humble.
When the first class graduated from the Western State Normal School on May 25, 1866, State Superintendent Rev. Dr. Ballard said, ‘The whole drew forth warm commendation from the literary gentlemen present, and all felt satisfied that the diploma given to each member of the graduating class was indeed a testimonial to good character, diligence in study, ample attainments, and a compliance with the rules of the school. The persons most interested in its work and care, saw on that day a rich compensation for the solicitude of the enterprise, which had thus far, at least, been regarded as an experiment…’ Ballard’s remarks show that success was not a foregone conclusion, and there was much room for satisfaction among those who had fought for Maine’s first teachers’ college.
A Novel Approach: A Teachers’ College That Emphasized Liberal Arts
The Western State Normal School stood out among teachers’ colleges for its commitment to integrating a strong liberal arts program into teacher training, for it was thought that only those with a strong background in the liberal arts could effectively teach the arts and sciences.
Obvious as this may seem, it was not the rule among teachers of the time. The classic emphasis on memorizing lessons may have grown from the danger of exposing unlettered teachers to inquisitive pupils.
Many early graduates attended the school for its liberal arts foundation alone. Among these were the Stanley brothers, famous for building the Stanley Steamer automobile; and John Stevens, engineer of the Panama Canal. Interest in the liberal arts continued unabated until the college offered its first degree programs in the arts and sciences in 1971. By the 1974-75 school year, nearly 300 students were enrolled in Farmington’s arts and sciences programs.
The University of Maine System is Born
The Western State Normal School passed through many incarnations in its first 106 years, finally merging into the University of Maine System in 1968 to become “the University of Maine at Farmington” in 1971.
Where We Are Today
The University of Maine at Farmington has maintained its fine tradition in teacher preparation while adding and enhancing other academic programs in the arts and sciences, health, and rehabilitation.
More than a century of changes have left several features constant, however UMF continues to live by the ideals which inspired the Normal School movement in the mid-nineteenth century: a democracy can survive only if its citizens have a sense of history, a working understanding of issues affecting the present and a vision for the future.
History of UMF on the Maine Memory Network
UMF’s Mantor Library and the UMF History Department were awarded a grant by the Maine Historical Society to create an online exhibit on the History of UMF on the Maine Memory Network.
The Maine Memory Network is a collaborative digital library and provides access to thousands of historical items belonging to over 200 organizations from across Maine, including the University of Maine at Farmington. Students in Professor of History Allison Hepler’s History of UMF course and History of Maine class did research and contributed to the text for the exhibits and accompanying images and documents from the UMF archives.