UMS trustees OK credit transfer recommendations in hopes of solving 40-year-old problem

Posted Nov. 05, 2012, at 8:06 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 06, 2012, at 8:40 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine System trustees approved on Monday a steering committee’s recommendations of how to move toward solving the pesky problem of credit transfers among system campuses.

University of Maine at Fort Kent President Wilson Hess, chairman of the Credit Transfer Steering Committee, presented the committee’s findings to the trustees during a two-day meeting in Presque Isle.

“This set of recommendations will create a statewide, more robust credit transfer system across the University of Maine System,” Hess said. Individual campuses have their own best practices of how to accomplish credit transfers, but the system hasn’t been able to establish a consistent policy that works for each university.

The recommendations include plans to develop a concierge-like service to welcome and counsel students through the sometimes complex transfer process. Web-based tools would be developed to help students investigate their transfer options. A plan also will be developed to make the knowledge a student gains from courses more equitable among campuses so that they are more easily transferable.

Credit transfers were a difficult-to-tackle policy when the system formed four decades ago, and have proved to be a persistent problem ever since.

“Today, we passed a milestone in the history of the University of Maine System,” Chancellor James Page said Monday. “Adopting this policy makes explicit a process that — more than 40 years ago — was implicit in the system’s original charter.”

Trustees also voted to create a systemwide steering committee to develop a plan that would ease the process for adult students with some college credits who want to jump back into school to complete their degree. It’s the beginning of the fourth major initiative under the 14 goals and actions set by the trustees earlier this year as the system aims to meet the state’s workforce needs, cut costs and improve student access.

Also at the meeting, trustees approved:

• An expansion at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center to create a facility for testing wind and wave effects on wind turbines.

• The University of Southern Maine’s plan to replace its central heat plant and to refurbish a 600,000-gallon water tank — both of which are more than 45 years old and located on the Gorham campus.

• The renaming of the Support Building at the University of Maine at Machias, which now will be known as the Crandlemire Support Building in honor of Don Crandlemire, who served as the university’s Physical Plant director for 25 years.

• The continuation of a five-year lease for University of Maine at Augusta classroom, laboratory and office space at the Augusta Civic Center.

In other action, trustees reviewed the Fall 2012 student enrollment report, which showed the incoming freshman class of degree-seeking students is up nearly 6 percent from last year’s class due to a 5 percent jump in first-time students and a 14 percent increase in transfer students. The system said that’s positive news, stemming a trend of declining enrollment at Maine’s public universities in recent years.

The next trustees meeting will be held Jan. 28, 2013, at the University of Maine System offices on Central Street in Bangor.

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