BANGOR, Maine — With little discussion, the University of Maine System board of trustees approved University of Southern Maine President Selma Botman’s new post in the chancellor’s office during Monday’s regular board meeting.
Botman, who was the focus of a no-confidence vote two months ago on the USM campus, requested the job switch in a late June letter to Chancellor James Page. The option to transfer to a different position within the system was outlined in her presidential contract.
Page announced July 5 that the four-year president would be stepping down from her role at the helm of the system’s second-largest university so she could serve as special assistant to the chancellor on global education.
The chancellor called Botman’s decision “selfless” and said they agreed that a change in leadership could be the best way to move the university forward.
In her new role, Botman will lead efforts to expand the system’s international education programs and will retain her title of “president.” Her annual salary will be $203,000, the same amount she made as president.
Page said during Monday’s meeting that the University of Maine System as a whole was “well behind its peers” in terms of how actively it recruits from other nations and builds relationships with international universities. Some UMS campuses are more active than others in reaching across international borders, but the system would benefit from a consistent, centralized effort, he said.
“We do not have a strategic, systemwide approach to the issue,” Page said.
“President Botman is very well qualified to develop that plan both because of her administrative experience and her educational experience, but also because she has been involved in educational policy and international programs for quite some time,” Page said.
Botman came to USM from City University of New York. She holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies.
Botman’s USM biography and past news stories don’t list any past experience leading international programs in higher education. During her term at USM, she created a council to lead diversity initiatives and worked with the campus’ Multicultural Student Affairs group.
Duties outlined in Botman’s new agreement include working with campuses to find international student recruitment agents and building relationships with global institutions for faculty exchange programs.
Page said the new appointment is a “reassignment under an existing contract.” At the end of the term of the contract, which expires June 30, 2013, Page said the system would reassess the salary for the global education position.
That contract also states that after three years of service, Botman is eligible for a one-year appointment as a professor, researcher or administrator within the system at 66.6 percent of her last annual presidential salary. However, that option is only available after the presidential term expires, Page said.
The system expects the newly created global education position will result in no net cost to UMS, according to Page.
Page has said since he was announced as a finalist for the chancellorship that the system should look at how the system office is structured to see whether it can be pared back in size or altered to cut costs. He argued that savings resulting from shifts in the system structure will offset, if not surpass, the costs of Botman’s new post.
He also said Botman’s work should bring more international students to the system’s universities, increasing the amount of tuition and other assets coming into the universities.
Theo Kalikow, who recently retired from the presidency at the University of Maine at Farmington, will become USM’s next president after the board approved her appointment on Monday. Kalikow will earn the same salary as Botman, $203,000.
Kalikow, who served as president at the University of Maine at Farmington for 18 years, said her retirement lasted just one day and that she’s excited to begin listening to faculty, staff and students at USM and begin a discussion about how to move the university forward.
Also at Monday’s board meeting, the board approved changes to the language of the system’s compensation review program to clarify the chancellor’s authority to require a system-level review of certain raises and appointments to positions, especially at the administrative level.
After a review of the $7 million in salary increases over the past seven years, a representative from the system’s human resources office and the chancellor said at the May board meeting that they largely are satisfied with the system’s compensation program, but that a few alterations might improve oversight.
Page said the recommendations also are designed to ensure equitable treatment of employees and prudent use of resources while allowing university presidents the freedom to manage their work force without burdensome administrative requirements.
Neil Greenberg, president of the Universities of Maine Professional Staff Association, said during the public comment section that a 1 percent pay increase for all of his members would cost $385,000. The system is still in negotiations with three employee unions after contracts expired last summer.
“We’re not asking for the world.” Greenberg said. “… We’re just asking for things to be fair.”
Trustees also backed the University of Maine at Orono’s Blue Sky Project, a five-year plan for the system’s flagship university that has been in the works since November 2011. The plan outlines how UMaine should approach its future and lays out a number of goals aiming to strengthen the university and the state as a whole.
More information about the project and its full text are available at umaine.edu/blueskyplan/.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved:
• A $542,000, or roughly 6 percent, increase to the budget for Stewart Art/New Media Complex at UMaine, which is under construction. The increase will allow for the purchase of specialized audio and visual equipment and other classroom technology. The increase is funded by campus and gift funds.
• A new mission statement for the University of Maine at Machias, which the university said more accurately reflects its goals and purposes as a public environmental liberal arts university.
• The authorization of the chancellor to execute collective bargaining agreements with the Maine Part-time Faculty Association and the Teamsters Local Union No. 340 Service and Maintenance Unit.