University of Southern Maine started out as Gorham Normal School in 1878, and has changed named several times since. Now, USM President Glenn Cummings is proposing another name change, this time to reflect the school's close relationship with the city of Portland.

Cummings recently sent out letters to the entire university's community suggesting it may be time to explore a name change, according to the Press Herald.

“Over the last few months, I have been thinking a lot about whether a new name for our university might better extend our geographic reach and enhance our reputation and appeal among college bound students here in Maine and beyond,” Cummings wrote in the letter. “I have begun to share my thinking with many members of the community and would like to ask for your input as a valuable member of our 52,000-strong alumni network.”

He didn't put forth a name in his letter to the alumni, but University of Maine Portland came up most often in interviews with university officials this week, the Press Herald reports. The name change would apply to Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston campuses.

President Cummings and Robert Stein, USM’s executive director of public affairs, reiterated that the name change is in no way imminent. The recent email to alumni was simply a probe for feedback on the matter. “I want to reiterate that this is only an exploration,” Cummings wrote. “One important point to keep in mind is that our commitment to a three-campus presence in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn will not be affected in any way by the outcome of this exploration. Even if the research indicates a name change would be beneficial to the university, this would be a long and deliberative process.”

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