ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine this spring has stepped up its use of faculty members to attract more students to the state’s flagship public university.
UM Provost Susan E. Hunter said more faculty members from more departments than in previous years have been asked to contact accepted students who have expressed an interest in a particular area of study.
“[The effort] was more of isolated pockets of campus that were doing it, and it hadn’t been centrally organized,” Hunter said. “It’s not a new invention. Now we’re doing it in a more cohesive and deliberate fashion.”
The participating faculty members are being provided more information than before in the event accepted students have specific questions outside the academic realm.
Hunter said the recruiting effort is not a “panic move” and had been planned before the March 24 announcement that several academic departments were facing cuts that could result in elimination of some majors and elimination, merger and reorganization of other programs.
The new effort was also not a reaction, Hunter added, to a slightly smaller-than-average class of new first-year students that entered UM last fall.
Hunter attributed the lower first-year class numbers to the weak economy.
There has been some opposition among faculty members to the increased recruiting efforts, Hunter acknowledged, especially among faculty members in departments that are facing potential cuts.
The deans of UM’s five colleges put forward names of possible faculty recruiters to Hunter’s office, and she e-mailed each of the faculty members who were suggested. Hunter said some of those faculty members, however, did not want to participate because their department could be reduced by the time the accepted students ar-rive on campus.
“I understand if your unit might [be cut back] you might not feel very comfortable or very happy about being asked [to make calls],” she said. “It’s everybody’s choice. Right now there are people who are angry. I understand why people are angry. We’re hoping this is something that many people can look to as something posi-tive.”
There has also been positive reaction to the new recruiting effort, Hunter said.
Hunter said some departments have made similar calls for years — she did it herself when she was a biology faculty member — but the calls were not coordinated with the other departments or colleges.
Now, the effort will be coordinated from the provost’s office.
Faculty members will call accepted students who have expressed an interest in the faculty member’s area of study, and contact the student to find out if he or she has any questions about UM.
A prospective first-year student who indicated on his or her application an interest in, for example, international politics might receive a telephone call from a member of the department of political science.
The faculty members will be given a sheet of information with contacts for offices such as student affairs, housing and dining services or financial aid.
Not only does the contact sheet provide immediate information for accepted students and parents who have questions, but also serves as a backup for faculty who aren’t familiar with housing policies or financial aid issues.
“The faculty are great at talking about their area of study, the major, the courses, how it all works,” Hunter said. “All we’ve done with this effort is provide them a pretty good information sheet on the students they’re calling, and also a sheet that gives them names and contact information for all kinds of people on campus.”