UMaine Academic Prioritization Working Group Issues Final Report; Recommends Revenue Enhancement and Program Modification to Close Budget Gap

Contact: Joe Carr at 581-3571

ORONO — The University of Maine’s Academic Program Prioritization Working Group (APPWG) has issued its final report to the university’s provost and president.  The report, available online at, lists a series of revenue enhancements and program modifications the university could employ between now and mid-2014 to help close a looming structural budget gap.

According to current projections, that gap will be $25 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2014.  Late last summer, UMaine President Robert Kennedy established APPWG, a group of senior faculty members and administrators, including the college deans, to recommend ways to reduce academic programming costs by $12,255,000, with the remaining cost reductions to come from other university operations.

Kennedy and Provost Susan Hunter will use this report, which is not binding, as they work toward a set of changes to recommend for implementation.  Kennedy has said that he plans to make those recommendations before the end of the spring semester. An implementation process, which would include Faculty Senate review of proposed changes, would follow those recommendations.

The APPWG membership established an extensive set of quantitative criteria and also applied qualitative measurements to developing an interim report, issued on March 24.  Through a March 29 public forum, written and verbal input and online feedback, hundreds of people have provided commentary on that interim report, all of which was considered in developing the final report issued today.

Major changes include the addition of detailed recommendations for reducing the magnitude of budget cuts by increasing revenues through various means, including increased enrollment.  It also includes cost-saving recommendations including consolidations and restructuring of the university’s general education requirements for students in all majors.

The group’s final report varies from its interim report with regard to a number of specific academic programs.

Unlike the March 24 report, it does not recommend eliminating the French major, the Spanish major, the music major, the music performance major or the music master’s degree program.  It does recommend downsizing the music graduate program and suspending majors in German and Latin, while “exploring models for focused study in those areas.”  The final report includes the recommendation to eliminate the Dept. of Public Administration.

While emphasizing the critical “importance of maintaining a strong undergraduate liberal arts core,” the APPWG report acknowledges the depth and seriousness of the financial situation and encourages the full exploration of ways to bring in more money to mitigate budget reductions that would otherwise amount to up to 20 percent of college budgets by 2014.

The report also recommends phasing in reductions through a deliberate process.

“We ask that, in consultation with stakeholders, the senior administration prioritize the actions, indicating which ones might be considered for immediate implementation for the 2012 budget,” the report says. “Cuts prioritized for 2013 and beyond should be reviewed annually in light of the evolving budget situation, including the success of revenue enhancements and changes in budgets from the State and System.  This will also allow departments and programs to design and implement ways to improve efficiency and increase revenue.”

Based on that potential 20 percent target, the report lists the cuts that would be necessary in each college to achieve a budget goal of that magnitude.  In addition to continued efforts in each college to streamline curricula, reduce course offerings and eliminate low enrollment majors, the proposed modifications are:

College of Business, Public Policy and Health
•    Eliminate Dept. of Public Administration and its undergradate and graduate degree programs
•    Eliminate a faculty line following Maine Business School retirement
•    Eliminate a vacant Administrative Assistant position
•    Consider elimination of college’s section of the School of Economics

College of Education and Human Development
•    Eliminate Clinical Educational Program Specialist position
•    Eliminate one additional Faculty position
•    Reevaluate Master’s in Instructional Technology
•    Downsize Center for Research and Evaluation
•    Downsize Master of Arts in Teaching

College of Engineering
•    Eliminate three undergraduate and 3 master’s degrees by restructuring:
–    Chemical & Biological Engineering
-Electrical & Computing Engineering
-School of Engineering Technology
-Spatial Information Science & Engineering

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
•    Suspend Women’s Studies major and graduate concentration and explore alternative models of offering degree, concentrations, minor or other forms of focused study
•    Suspend Latin and German majors and explore alternative models for focused study in these areas
•    Suspend Theatre major and explore alternative models for focused study in this area
•    Music: Reduce the number of ensembles currently offered and reduce the number of graduate degree concentrations from three to two
•    Reorganize college departments and programs so that organizational structure reflects smaller sizes of units, promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, and facilitates curricular innovation

College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture
•    Eliminate financial support of analytical and diagnostic laboratories that serve campus and external clients
•    Eliminate distinct B.S. degrees in Aquaculture, Wood Science, Forest Operations, and Forest Ecosystems Science & Conservation. Programs will be combined into other degree options or changed to concentrations
•    Merge three departments into an integrated School of Food and Agriculture
•    Greater proportion of MAFES-funded technical staff, research facility staff and operating expenses funded by external grants