Unity College is a private college based in New Gloucester, Maine with an additional campus in Unity and facilities in Moose River and Thorndike.[1] It offers undergraduate and graduate education based on sustainability science that emphasizes study of the environment and natural resources. Initially founded as a residential school in Unity, Maine, Unity College expanded into online education in 2016 which grew both its enrollment and number of academic programs.[2] The college moved its online program to the historic Pineland Farms campus in New Gloucester in 2019 and later relocated their administrative headquarters there.[3][1] Unity College operates both an online-only program and a hybrid program with on-campus courses at both the New Gloucester and Unity campuses.


The college was founded in 1965 as the Unity Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a faculty of 15 and a student body of 39. The founders, a group of local business people, were looking for ways to counter economic decline in the town of Unity. Two years later, it changed its name to Unity College and in 1969 awarded degrees to its first graduating class of 24.[4] The college's founders had previously considered opening a bowling alley and a sock factory before settling on the college, which didn't adopt an environmental-oriented focus until 1977.[5] It built the first Passivhaus college residence in the U.S. in 2011 and became the first college in the country to divest its endowment of fossil fuels in 2012.[6]

Unity underwent a tumultuous period in the 1980s, when it was placed on probation by its accreditor. President Wilson Hess, a professor who was selected to lead the college in the middle of the crisis, led fundraising efforts to put Unity on a firm financial footing.[7] The college received an unprecedented $10 million gift in 2011 and its endowment has since grown to $15.3 million.[8] Unity began offering online education in 2016 with its first master's degree, in Professional Science.[9] It began offering undergraduate online programs two years later.[10] In 2020, Unity College closed its Unity campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. During the prolonged pandemic-related closure, the college announced it would pivot away from a traditional residential model and would consider selling its campus.[11] In 2021, Unity College President Melik Peter Khoury told the Morning Sentinel that the campus was "never listed for sale" and that it would reopen for the fall term.[12]

Unity College moved its online program offices from Unity to New Gloucester in 2019.[3] In 2021, when the fate of the Unity, Maine campus was still uncertain, the college announced a new online and commuter junior college which would also be located in New Gloucester called the Technical Institute for Environmental Professions.[13] The college also moved its headquarters to New Gloucester, though it continues to operate the Unity, Maine campus as its sole residential campus.[1] Residential students complete their general education courses online under the college's hybrid model.[14]

Past presidents include Mitchell Thomashow, Wilson Hess, and Stephen Mulkey.[6][15][16]


Unity College had an athletics program and was a member of the Division II level of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), primarily competing in the Yankee Small College Conference (YSCC) from 2008–09 until 2018–19.[17] Known as the Rams, the athletics program featured both USCAA-sanctioned sports and club sports, including a Woodsman team.[18]

Previously, Unity competed in up to nine intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports included basketball, cross country, soccer and track & field; while women's sports included basketball, cross country, soccer, track & field and volleyball. Additionally Unity College had a number of club sports: woodsmen's team, ice hockey, indoor soccer, lacrosse, martial arts and ultimate frisbee; plus intramural sports.[19]


The Unity College men's and women's cross-country teams both won the 1996 National Small College Athletic Association (NSCAA) National Championship meet held at Michigan Christian College in Rochester Hills, Michigan. These were Unity College's first-ever men's and women's national championship teams. The NSCAA was the predecessor of today's United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). In 1992 the Unity College women's cross country team won the NAIA Division 5 New England Championship meet held at Johnson State College, Vermont.[20]

Student life

Unity College's Unity campus is home to dozens of extra-curricular clubs and activities for students.[citation needed] Unity Commons was the student-run newspaper, consisting of locally focused journalism and student submissions of art, photography, poetry, and short fiction. It has not published since the closure of the campus in 2020.[21]


  1. ^ a b c "Locations and Facilities". Unity College. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  2. ^ "Unity College adds five new degree programs to Distance Education". Unity College. 2020-01-10. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  3. ^ a b Sentinel, Molly ShellyMorning (2019-12-11). "Unity College's Distance Education Department relocates to New Gloucester". Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  4. ^ "At A Glance | Unity College | America's Environmental College". www.unity.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  5. ^ Donahue, Bill (2021-07-23). "Can the Soul of "America's Environmental College" Survive Digital Disruption?". Down East Magazine. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  6. ^ a b "How A Small College Launched Divestment from Fossil Fuels". Yale E360. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  7. ^ "In Deep Financial Trouble, Maine's Unity College Faces Loss Of Its Accreditation". Christian Science Monitor. 1990-08-06. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  8. ^ Curtis, Abigail (2020-08-09). "As Unity College retools, some fear the school has 'lost its way'". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  9. ^ Sudmeyer, Alecia (2016-06-14). "Unity College unveils online master's degree". Unity College. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  10. ^ Sudmeyer, Alecia (2018-07-24). "Living up to our name through distance education". Unity College. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  11. ^ "Unity College Considers Selling Waldo County Campus As It Transitions To Hybrid Learning Model". Maine Public. 2020-08-04. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  12. ^ Loftus, Sawyer (2021-06-04). "Unity College is abandoning plans to sell its campus". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  13. ^ Writer, Edward D. MurphyStaff (2021-07-08). "Unity College to open environmental professions institute at Pineland Farms". Press Herald. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  14. ^ "Unity College: Hybrid Learning". Unity College. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  15. ^ Bloch, Jessica (2010-03-15). "Ex-Unity College president to lead UMFK". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  16. ^ "A Biographical Sketch of Dr. Mitchell Thomashow". Western Michigan University. 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  17. ^ "History of the Yankee Small College Conference". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ Staff (2020-08-04). "Unity College sports on hold for 2020-21". Waldo County VillageSoup. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  19. ^ "Unity College Athletics". Unity College Athletics. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  20. ^ "Johnson State Bulliton" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Unity Commons (@unitycommons) • Instagram photos and videos". www.instagram.com. Retrieved 2022-07-25.

External links

44°36′14.05″N 69°19′50.90″W / 44.6039028°N 69.3308056°W / 44.6039028; -69.3308056Coordinates: 44°36′14.05″N 69°19′50.90″W / 44.6039028°N 69.3308056°W / 44.6039028; -69.3308056