It is high time the residents of the state of Maine start exercising the rights of ownership of the University of Maine System. As taxpayers who fund in large part the costs of running the system and paying its employees, we need to remind UMS administrators who is boss.
In addition to our tax dollars, many of the residents of this state also pay tuition and fees, for themselves and-or for their children and grandchildren. That fact adds yet another level of ownership. It is blatantly obvious that the administrators of the university system and the board of trustees have forgotten who really holds “the keys to the kingdom.”
We can hardly blame them, however, since it seems that the owners themselves — the residents of this state — have also forgotten that very important point. We have lost total control of our university system and have been relegated to the “nosebleed section” of the arena of operations.
Left to their own devices, the administrators have taken our money and run with it. They have created too many tiers of administration and have passed out golden parachutes to their own kind like candy on Halloween.
It is difficult enough for a state this size to afford the costs of a university, but when we have to tack on the costs of supporting former administrators along with the overabundance of current administrators, the costs become insupportable. Those at the top create “jobs” that have no job descriptions but carry bountiful remuneration and benefits that the average resident can only dream about.
As the costs for the top tier become greater and greater, the money left to actually operate the university and teach the students becomes scarcer and scarcer. One of the end results is the list of proposed cuts to education that came out this week at the University of Maine.
While administrators discuss slashing languages, music and diversity studies, thereby weakening the entire university mission, they also are complicit with the chancellor in his offer to UM President Robert Kennedy to “explore his options” and “transition” from the UM presidency to work on “special projects” at the system level. No mention has been made of how much money Kennedy will receive for his “special projects” work.
The very fact that the chancellor and President Kennedy made this audacious announcement one week before
the release of the list of recommended cuts to education at UM underscores the level of sheer arrogance of these administrators and the measure of contempt in which they hold the taxpayers of this state and the students who come through our doors. The priorities are clear. Protect those at the top at all costs and strip the carcass of a
once-proud university in the process of doing so.
As one of those taxpayers, students and parents of students at UM who supports the institution and claims ownership of it, I call upon the board of trustees to start doing its job. Protect the University of Maine System and its mission, which is to educate students, promote and support vital research areas, and provide community service to the residents of this state. Begin to sever the overbloated head of this body instead of irresponsibly approving every request to increase its magnitude and cost.
I call upon the legislators of this state to become more directly involved in the oversight of the University of Maine System. Start paying attention to the ways in which the system administrators are spending our hard-earned tax dollars that you hand over to them every year.
I call upon the administrators at every level of the system to stop plundering our institution and return credibility to our mission. And, last, I call upon every other taxpayer and owner of the University of Maine System to rise up in protest at this latest effort to cripple and emaciate the body of our state university. We have, each and every one of us, a vested interest in the success of the university.
Write your legislator. Write the governor. Write to members of the board of trustees. Put a stop to the squandering of your money.
Suzanne Moulton of Bangor is an administrative assistant in the history department at the University of Maine. She is also a master’s degree candidate in Canadian history and has two children who are students at UM.