The Unity College campus will resume in-person hybrid learning, including the reopening of Dorothy Webb Quimby Library to the public, starting Aug. 2.

In a conversation with The Republican Journal June 7, Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, president of the college, said because vaccinations are widely available and with the state opening up further, “…we hope to resume” operations.

Beginning Aug. 2, the entire Quaker Hill Road property will reopen, he said, including residence halls, dining services and trails.

All students returning to in-person courses at the Unity campus will be required to be vaccinated and the college will be following mask guidelines as set forth by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Students who choose to forgo vaccination can continue attending the school through remote learning, Khoury said.

When the college was forced to close last spring because of the pandemic, he said, the school experienced an enrollment shortfall, “as we had to send a lot of students home.”

At that time, he said, the college had "strategic and transparent" conversations on how to continue to keep the school viable and consider all the options. Attaining the “critical mass to allow us to operate is no easy feat,” he said.

Trustees of the college at the time authorized Khoury and other top college officials to explore the sale of any of the school's properties, including the main campus (Unity also has properties in Jackman, New Gloucester and Thorndike).

A day later, it was announced that 33 members of Unity's faculty and staff had been laid off and another 20 had been furloughed.

“The campus was never listed” for sale, he said, and closing the college was never an issue. “Lockdown and closure are two very different things,” he added. “We just needed to be ready… .”

Since changing last August to a hybrid learning model where students take one or two courses at a time for terms of just five weeks, Khoury said, the college has been enrolling 150 to 200 students every term. With a mission of graduating more "environmental superheroes," Khoury said, the college will also be keeping tuition flat throughout all programs.

The school has abandoned the traditional two-semester model in favor of continuing the five-week hybrid program, which students can attend either in-person or remotely.

Khoury credited the faculty and staff with steering the college from "the brink of what could have been a catastrophe, to record enrollments." At its peak, he said, the school reached 1,600 students.

“I am proud of our faculty and staff for enduring one of the most challenging years…," he said.