Kennedy to reveal academic cutbacks

Posted April 29, 2010, at 9:34 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — University of Maine President Robert Kennedy will announce at 10 a.m. Tuesday his decisions pertaining to an academic reorganization plan that has caused discord on campus while aiming to cut $12.3 million from the school’s budget.

Kennedy will speak at the Collins Center for the Arts. The talk will be streamed online at www.umaine.edu.

He will outline plans for “program adjustments and implementation,” according to a news release from UMaine spokesman Joe Carr.

Kennedy’s recommendations will be forwarded to UMaine’s Faculty Senate for review next fall. Any program cuts or eliminations must be approved by the University of Maine System board of trustees.

Kennedy created an Academic Program Prioritization Working Group late last summer to recommend academic program priorities and to develop suggestions for savings over the three-year period beginning July 1, 2011. That group, made up of senior faculty members and administrators, provided its final report to Kennedy on April 14.

The working group’s final report included the elimination of the Latin, German, theater and women’s studies major programs — although instruction still would be offered in those areas — along with elimination of the department of public administration and the consolidation of other academic programs.

The proposed changes would result in 80 fewer faculty positions by 2014, when the university’s budget gap is expected to reach $25.2 million.

Whatever changes are approved would be phased in between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2014. Students now enrolled would be able to complete their programs.

The interim version of the report also included the elimination of French, Spanish and two of three music majors, but those proposed cuts were taken out of the final report. There were more than 1,000 signatures on a petition against the elimination of languages, Raymond Pelletier, chairman of the department of modern languages and classics, said recently.

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