Kennedy: Layoffs ‘inevitable’ at UMaine

Posted March 16, 2009, at 2:35 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Layoffs will be inevitable at the University of Maine in the coming fiscal year, UMaine President Robert Kennedy wrote Monday in an e-mail to staff, as the university needs to cut $8.6 million from its budget for the coming fiscal year.

“This has been — and will continue to be — a difficult process and the results will be painful,” Kennedy wrote. “Further work force reduction, some of it in the form of layoffs, is inevitable. I find it difficult to even write those words, but I feel that it is my duty to be forthcoming about the gravity of the current situation.”

The University of Maine will address budget cuts for FY 2010, which starts July 1, during two public forums in the coming weeks.

The meetings, both of which will take place in the Wells Conference Center in Orono, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 26, and 10 a.m. to noon Monday, March 30.

The purpose of the meetings is to provide updated information on the university’s financial situation and to respond to questions from the UMaine community.

Kennedy wrote in the e-mail, which was addressed to members of the UMaine community, that the international economic struggle, decreased endowment income, an increased need for student financial aid, and a drop in demand for goods and services provided by auxiliary services have affected the UMaine System’s flagship campus.

Kennedy said Monday afternoon during a break from the University of Maine System board of trustees meeting that moves such as layoffs and leaving open positions unfilled might help reduce the shortfall by 25 percent to 50 percent. About 80 percent of the university’s budget goes toward employee costs.

Eventually, Kennedy said, the university will see a saving of $1 million from its move to privatize Cutler Health Center.

UMaine has about 2,500 employees.

Some savings will be found through central administrative cost-saving measures, Kennedy wrote. Most of the reductions, however, will come through measures instituted at the college or departmental level.

The deans and directors have been given cost-reduction target numbers, he wrote, and administrators are working with Vice President for Administration and Finance Janet Waldron and Provost Susan Hunter to plan for cuts.

“We will see other changes in the way we operate,” Kennedy wrote, “but those changes will be designed to create more efficient and sustainable ways to preserve our core mission and minimize — to the greatest extent possible — the impact on our students.”

UMaine had to cut $5.4 million from its budget for this year in order to avoid employee furloughs.

jbloch@bangordailynews.net

990-8287

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