BANGOR, Maine — The final version of a report from a task force assembled to examine the structure and governance of the University of Maine System, along with reports from committees examining other areas of the university system, were released Wednesday.
The “New Challenges, New Directions” task force report calls for improved systemwide unity, the restructuring of systemwide services, the establishment of a public agenda and better use of financial goals, to help mitigate an estimated $42.8 million deficit in the next four years.
The reports will be presented to the UMS board of trustees at a July 13 meeting at the system office on Central Street in Bangor.
Chancellor Richard L. Pattenaude notified UMS employees Wednesday by e-mail that he had received the task force report Wednesday and was starting to meld the information, along with other committee reports, into one comprehensive draft plan.
Once completed, the draft plan will be made available in September and will be presented at the Sept. 14 UMS board meeting.
Related reports on distance learning and University College centers also were released Wednesday.
Pattenaude’s “New Challenges, New Directions” directive, released in January, established three committees to examine three arenas of review, including the task force’s look at structure and governance. The Arena 1 committee was to offer recommendations related to administrative, student and financial services. The Arena 2 committee was to offer recommendations pertaining to academic programs and services.
The report from Arena 1 called for greater centralization of information technology, procurement, and services such as finance, facilities and human resources. Arena 1 also estimated savings of at least $30 million by fiscal year 2013.
According to the Arena 2 report, an estimated savings of $8 million to $10 million in the next four years is available. That report’s recommendations include managing the number of low-enrollment courses so that no more than 25 percent of total courses offered have 12 or fewer students, reviewing low-enrollment degree programs, adjusting student-faculty ratios to those of peer institutions, expanding distance education programs, and increasing enrollment and graduation rates.
The Arena 3 task force, which did not have financial targets, examined governance, systemwide services, resource allocation and campus missions.
“The task force recommends a whole series of reforms to better enable Maine’s public university system to play a leading role in addressing the tremendous economic, demographic, and educational challenges and opportunities ahead,” task force chairman David T. Flanagan said in a statement.
Judy Kuhns-Hastings, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Maine and the president-elect of the UMaine faculty senate, declined to comment Wednesday afternoon because she hadn’t had a chance to read the final reports.
In a statement sent to UMaine faculty last week regarding a draft version of the task force report, however, the faculty senate executive committee disagreed with some of the proposed reforms.
“While we like the vision of educational success endorsed by the report, we believe the proposed means to achieving that vision will actually take us in an opposite direction,” the statement read.
Among the task force recommendations contested by the faculty senate statement are cuts to UMaine’s state subsidy, an increase in master’s degree programs at the University of Southern Maine, a common systemwide calendar, centralization of distance education at the University of Maine at Augusta, and moving of the chancellor’s office from Bangor to Augusta.
The senate also disagreed with a recommendation that would encourage students to spend the first two years of their secondary education at another UMS school or community college before transferring to UMaine. Students who come from two-year programs, the senate stated in its e-mail, often struggle in higher-level courses, and the UMaine System does not have the resources for remediation.
The system is taking public comment through Aug. 1. To read the committee reports, go to www.maine.edu/UMSNCND. To comment on the documents, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to New Challenges, New Directions, c/o Office of the Chancellor, University of Maine System, 16 Central St., Bangor 04401