University of Southern Maine, You Broke My Crooked Heart

Dear University of Southern Maine,

You’ve done it.  Broken my heart, that is.  You did it while staring into my unblinking eyes.  You never released your finger from the trigger, just waited until the dust settled from your bad press, then, when you hoped people were preoccupied by the warm summer air that finally came to us in Maine, you pressed the savage trigger and shattered my crooked heart.

It’s not just my heart, as I’m sure you know.  With your act of placing the Stone House in Freeport on the market, you’ve fractured hundreds of hearts.  As Stonecoast students and faculty members, we bled in that house.  We opened ourselves up at the breast and bled until we got our stories right.  The Stone House was made sacred by our words, and to see it so easily discarded by the trustees is heartbreaking.

Stone House Image copyWe gave you our hearts, but we also gave you our money.  Looking back on what we had, maybe the saddest truth of our relationship is that not only could you not be trusted with the magnificent gift of the Stone House and its surrounding property, you also couldn’t be trusted to be good stewards of our tuition.  Like many big institutions, you put off the necessary costs for years, until they became so extraneous that you had to cry poor.

But it’s over.  We’re over.  You’ve severed my heart.  Our hearts.  The best I can ask is that you do not move the program to the drab settings of your Portland or Lewiston campuses.  A great writing program deserves better.  The future purveyors of the written truth deserve better.

Of course, since writers are resilient people with open hearts, future Stonecoast students and faculty will make any space they enter sacred.  The program will regain its footing.  Not because of you, but in spite of you.

We had a good two years together, University of Southern Maine.  I’ll always remember the gift of my time in the Stone House.  I truly hope the sale of the Stone House allows the University system to strengthen.  I do.  Though looking at the numbers, I don’t see how it can make a big dent; however, cutting a few six figure salaries at the administrative level could surely have a strong fiscal impact.

I believe this great state deserves a great institution of higher learning.  Do not let the pain of our broken hearts be in vain.


Dave Patterson


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1 Comment

  1. Wow, they really did it? A shame. Maybe Bowdoin or someplace will buy the house and the whole program, too. I think I’ll stop including the “University of Southern Maine” in my bio as revenge (that will have them shaking in their boots!).

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