PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved a $540 million budget for the coming fiscal year that will increase tuition for the first time in six years.
The board backed the budget Monday during the second day of a regular meeting held at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
With the inflation-based tuition hike, the weighted cost of attending Maine universities would increase by just under 3 percent, to $19,074. The annual in-state tuition rate at UMaine is increasing from $8,370 to $8,580, while three of the system’s smaller campuses in Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle will see their annual tuition increase to $6,840. Rates for out-of-state students, which typically are about three times that of Maine students, also will be seeing an increase.
The flat tuition rate over the past six years has been unusual among Maine’s peer institutions in other states, bucking a trend of increasing education costs across the country. Maine, Washington and California were the only states in the nation where public universities saw an inflation-adjusted decrease in tuition and fees over the past five years, according to the College Board, which tracks tuition rate changes across the country.
The board also gave its approval for a reorganization plan at the University of Maine at Presque Isle that will merge two of the school’s colleges. The College of Professional Programs and the College of Education will combine to create the College of Professional Programs and Education, cutting one academic dean and a few other administrative positions. The College of Arts and Sciences will remain.
It’s the latest move in the system-wide push to consolidate administrative functions, cut down divisions between programs, boost collaboration, and bring more stability to the budgets of its smaller campuses.
The system also made its plans for the future leadership of the Presque Isle campus public on Monday. University of Maine System Chancellor James Page announced that Raymond Rice would serve as UMPI’s president and provost. He’s been filling that role on an interim basis since July of 2016, when former president Linda Schott, accepted a new job as president of Southern Oregon University.
After a series of meetings with faculty and students at the Presque Isle campus to gauge whether they wanted to start a presidential search or stick with the current leadership, Page recommended that the board waive the traditional search process, which could take up to a year. Page said Rice had widespread support on campus.
“Struck by the consistency of message and exceptional support for President Rice’s inclusive and inspirational leadership, it was my great pleasure to recommend a direct appointment to the board,” Page said Monday.
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