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Unity College Awarded $363,310 Distance Learning Grant

October 28, 2021

Investment Will Support HyFlex Classroom Project

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Unity College will receive more than $360,000 as part of a $50 million-dollar nationwide investment to improve rural education and healthcare.

This investment will be used in support of the college’s HyFlex Classroom Project. These innovative classrooms will provide students at the Technical Institute for Environmental Professions (TIEP) with ultimate flexibility throughout the learning process. This is especially important as the college continues to expand access to its world-class environmental curriculum.

“The Hyflex Classroom Project will integrate virtual and augmented reality technology to help students in rural areas interact with each other and their instructors. From here in Maine, across the country, and eventually the globe; our students will be able to connect in a way that was never before possible.” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury.

“New and innovative technology means that living in a rural area no longer has to be a barrier to accessing educational opportunities. This grant for Unity College will enrich the learning experience for thousands of Maine students, and it’s an exciting investment in our rural communities. As a Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I’m proud to advocate for programs like this that expand technology infrastructure to all corners of Maine,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

In a recent press release, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack echoed that sentiment, “for too long, the ‘digital divide’ has left too many people living in rural communities behind: unable to compete in the global economy and unable to access the services and resources that all Americans need.”

“It means a lot to us at Unity College that the USDA recognizes the work we’re doing to facilitate access to those living in rural areas. In the age of climate change, and with a growing green economy, there has never been a more important time to provide improved access to an education in the environmental sciences,” said Dr. Khoury.

This grant comes just as Unity College recently broke another enrollment record. The college now has 2,499 students attending courses online, in-person, or a mix of both. It’s that added accessibility over the past two years that has helped the college triple its enrollment.

Construction on the first of Unity College’s HyFlex classrooms will be finished in the coming months, with courses launching in early spring. Members of the media can expect more details on those courses and programs, including Sustainable Aquaculture, Wasterwater Technician, and Veterinary Technician in the coming weeks.