University of Maine System trustees to vote on $528 million budget that cuts jobs, programs

Posted May 16, 2014, at 7:20 p.m.
Rebecca Wyke
Michael C. York | BDN
Rebecca Wyke

BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine System’s board of trustees will vote Monday on a $528 million budget for fiscal year 2015 that proposes cutting 157 jobs and dipping into the system’s rainy day fund for the first time since the fund’s creation.

The proposed budget accounts for $22.7 million worth of cuts that have been made across all seven of the system’s universities, according to UMS officials. Presidents and financial administrators have been working with the system office throughout the year to figure out where to make those cuts.

Included in the budget is $11.7 million that will be pulled out of a $15 million rainy day fund that Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Rebecca Wyke said has been built up since 2010. Despite the jobs lost and the funds pulled out of the reserve, the proposed budget falls short of finding the $36 million administrators originally sought to cut.

That means next year, more cuts are inevitable, Wyke said.

The University of Southern Maine was tasked with finding $14 million in savings, or about 10 percent of its budget. USM President Theodora Kalikow proposed eliminating three programs — American and New England studies, geosciences, and arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility.

USM still has to figure out where to cut $2.5 million. If the board of trustees approves this budget, it will do so without knowing where that $2.5 million will come from. Once USM finds the funds, officials will go to the board to approve those cuts at a later date.

The University of Maine announced in March that it would cut $9.7 million, or about 3.5 percent of its budget, by dipping into its savings, letting 61 positions go vacant next year through attrition and between seven and nine nonfaculty layoffs. UMaine is also projecting an enrollment increase next year that will boost revenue.

Less than two weeks before UMaine’s announcement, University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley announced the elimination of 24 full- and part-time positions, 10 of which were layoffs. In addition, 33 staff members will see their hours reduced. UMA is the only campus that will not be dipping into reserve funds to pass a budget.

And in February, University of Maine at Farmington President Kathryn Foster announced that 18 positions have been eliminated as part of a 9 percent campus spending reduction in fiscal year 2015. Fifteen of those positions already were vacant.

The University of Maine at Fort Kent will leave six full-time equivalent faculty and staff positions open, according to President Wilson Hess.

The University of Maine at Machias eliminated 6.5 administrative positions last fall, according to former spokesman Erik Smith.

University of Maine at Presque Isle spokeswoman Rachel Rice said the university will save on administrative costs by coordinating with other campuses and will not cut any positions.

Like UMaine, UMFK, UMPI and UMM all are projecting enrollment increases next year and have factored those into their budget plans.

The UMS office will cut $1.4 million through a variety of cost-saving methods, Wyke said.

 

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