UMPI president unveils plans to strengthen university

Posted Sept. 21, 2009, at 8:43 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Times are tough, but the University of Maine at Presque Isle is surviving and will complete the tasks necessary to assure the institution remains strong well into the future, college officials said late last week.

The message was conveyed to a large crowd of faculty, staff and students on Friday afternoon as part of UMPI President Don Zillman’s state of the university address at the Presque Isle campus.

The president centered much of his half-hour address on a new report from the chancellor of the University of Maine System. The report, titled “The University of Maine System and the Future of Maine,” seeks to reduce spending, increase enrollment and improve the quality of education at the system’s seven campuses. UMPI has 1,500 students.

Zillman pointed out it will be crucial for UMPI to stay within its budget, which has been one of UMPI’s strengths in the past.

“UMPI keeps its spending in the black,” Zillman told the crowd. “We have been able to keep our spending within the limits that have been put upon us.”

The president also outlined how the campus will meet other recommendations of the draft report.

Among the suggestions were the elimination of courses and programs with low enrollments, curtailment of employee compensation and benefits, centralization of administrative functions, the strengthening of student aid and greater use of distance learning technology.

Zillman said that UMPI officials will look at its programs to determine their popularity.

“We will start looking to make sure that no programs are underenrolled,” he said, pointing out that the UMaine system would like to see at least 12 students in each class, with some exceptions. “There may be programs here and at other campuses that won’t be here next year or in two or three years.”

The college also wants to enlarge the number of courses it offers over the Internet and collaborate more with other campuses to meet the educational needs of all students in the UMaine system.

Zillman reiterated that the goal of the campus will continue to be to offer the best education to its students while serving the community. He also stressed that he hopes the campus can help boost the number of Aroostook County residents who hold college degrees.

“It is going to be a challenge,” he acknowledged. “This is a very challenging agenda. But we can do it.”

“I need your support,” he told faculty and staff on Friday.

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