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ORONO — University of Maine President Robert Kennedy unveiled “UMaine 150,” an eight-point plan that he says “will both improve UMaine and make it more financially sustainable.” Kennedy made the announcement during a Tuesday morning presentation at UMaine’s Collins Center for the Arts.
Some 250 members of the UMaine community attended the presentation, at which Kennedy also announced his recommendations for modifying UMaine’s academic program to adjust to new budget realities. He accepted most of the recommendations advanced by UMaine’s Academic Program Prioritization Working Group (APPWG), a faculty and administration committee that started working late last summer to recommend ways to reduce UMaine’s academic budget by $12.2 million over a three-year period beginning July 1, 2011. The university’s overall budget reduction goal for that time period is projected at $25 million, with the remaining adjustments to come from non-academic budgets.
Kennedy has adopted the following APPWG recommendations:
During his presentation, Kennedy said that UMaine will to continue to provide instruction and opportunity in certain areas where majors will be discontinued, including theatre, women’s studies, German and Latin. At the same time, he said, “We must rededicate ourselves to our core principles and timely priorities.”
Kennedy also announced several changes related to UMaine’s College of Business, Public Policy and Health, currently comprised of the Dept. of Public Administration, part of the School of Economics, the School of Social Work and the Maine Business School. In addition to discontinuing the Dept. of Public Administration, Kennedy has reassigned this college’s economists to a unified School of Economics in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. He has also moved the School of Social Work to a new unit that will become a cornerstone of UMaine 150, leaving the Maine Business School as a stand-alone unit administrated by a dean who will report to the UMaine provost, just as college deans do.
This will reduce the number of UMaine colleges from five to four, in addition to its Honors College.
“I believe this structure, which is common at many universities similar to UMaine, will allow for an appropriate focus on business teaching, research and outreach, and will create excellent opportunities for good students for years to come,” he said.
The School of Social Work is slated to become part of a new interdisciplinary Division of Health and Biomedical Sciences, the largest and most ambitious element of UMaine 150.
“(This division) will make an enormous difference for UMaine, capitalizing on core strengths, providing opportunity in areas where there’s job growth and student interest, and creating new research collaborations in important fields, all while using existing resources,” he said.
In addition to the School of Social Work, Kennedy says the division will include the School of Nursing, the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and the Dept. of Molecular and Biomedical Science. It will be highlighted by connections to faculty and students in areas like biology, chemistry, biological engineering and other units.
He compared it in structure and potential to UMaine’s accalimed School of Marine Sciences.
Kennedy has assigned Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Susan Hunter and College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture Dean Edward Ashworth to fully develop a plan for this division, with their report due by the end of the calendar year.
In addition to creating the Division of Health and Biomedical Sciences, the eight-point UMaine 150 initiative includes a series of moves that Kennedy says will help UMaine save resources and/or increase revenue:
Kennedy also announced plans for “strategic, targeted investments” in three areas that he called a “down payment on UMaine’s future:”
Kennedy says he plans to fund these investments from some of the state money returned to the university budget by the governor and state legislature for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Those funds, approximately $3 million, were deappropriated during the current fiscal year.
Further details, including the text of Kennedy’s Tuesday address, are available online (umaine.edu/umaine150).