UM-Augusta cuts 24 positions; announces phase-out of vet tech, nursing associate degree programs

Posted March 18, 2014, at 4:24 p.m.
Last modified March 19, 2014, at 2:40 p.m.

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Allyson Hughes Handley
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Allyson Hughes Handley

AUGUSTA, Maine — The University of Maine at Augusta will phase out associate degree programs in veterinary technology and nursing and 24 full- and part-time positions will be eliminated in order to address a budget shortfall in 2015, according to a letter UMA President Allyson Handley sent to faculty and staff on Tuesday.

UMA’s Bangor campus will also see a reduction in staff equivalent to about five positions. In-person classes in Bangor will only be offered for one session this summer, instead of the usual two sessions. Virtual classes will continue to be offered during the entire summer.

The faculty and size of UMA’s University College Centers in Bath/Brunswick and Saco will be reduced as well.

The cuts represent UMA’s attempt to find $3 million in savings in order to balance its budget for fiscal year 2015.

Fourteen positions being cut are currently vacant or will become vacant next year due to retirements, according to Handley’s letter. There will be 10 layoffs. In addition, 33 staff will see their hours reduced or positions turned from full- to part-time. Each of the faculty and staff who are affected have been notified.

“Making substantial budget cuts is not something we wanted to do, but rather something we had to do,” Handley said in the letter. “Though it has been a painful and difficult process, we do feel confident we have identified reductions that will minimize the impact on our students, and will enable UMA to continue providing a high quality education at the lowest tuition rate in Maine for a bachelor’s degree.”

The students who are currently enrolled or on the waiting list for the associates degree in nursing program will be able to complete their degree, the letter said. The university will continue to offer a bachelor’s degree program in nursing for students who hold an associate’s degree. A new, four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing will be offered in conjunction with the University of Maine at Fort Kent next fall.

UMA will continue to accept applicants to the veterinary technology program through the spring of 2015, before the program stops accepting applications.

Tim Brokaw, UMA’s vice president of finance and administration, will host a forum on the budget cuts at 11 a.m Wednesday. The forum will be streamed so those interested can listen online.

The $3 million that UMA had to cut is part of a $36 million budget shortfall across the University of Maine System’s seven campuses. Each university has been tasked with coming up with its own strategy for a balanced budget. The budgets will be presented to the UMS board of trustees in May, when that body will finalize these decisions.

Earlier this month, UMS chancellor James Page told the Legislature that up to 165 positions will be cut across the system as a result of the budget shortfall. If the Legislature approves cuts to the system’s state appropriation, which is on the table, further cuts will have to be made.

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