President’s Message to the Community: Feb. 8

I want to take this opportunity to update you on two important FY18 initiatives that we have focused on these past two weeks.

First: the FY18 budget. Our net revenue/expense gap for 2018 is projected to be $760,585. The reduction of that gap in the past three years — $9.6 million in 2015, $8.5 million in 2016 and $3.9 million in 2017 — is a true reflection of the efforts of the entire UMaine community helping to achieve a balanced budget. Campuswide, we are dedicated to making student recruitment and retention a priority. We have continually looked at innovative ways to deliver quality teaching, research and community engagement as efficiently and effectively as possible. And we have made investments in key areas to continue to advance UMaine’s strategic priorities.

Promoting enrollment growth, increasing efficiencies, and advancing program and research opportunities also are at the heart of a proposed governance plan between UMaine and the University of Maine at Machias. The primary partnership was introduced nearly a year ago and, since that time, three task forces of UMaine and UMM community members have worked diligently to bring forward strategic goals in administrative integration, curriculum and program alignment, and structure and governance.

UMM President Susan Huseman and I presented the recommendations to the Board of Trustees last week (Jan. 30), with a proposed launch of the new governance relationship July 1.

Recommendations call for UMM to become a regional campus of UMaine, while maintaining its mission, degree programs and leadership role in the community. UMM’s faculty will report to an executive dean, who will serve on the UMaine Cabinet, and Deans and Provost’s councils. During a two-year transition period the new governance structure and UMM’s fiscal stability will be assessed.

UMM will be incorporated under UMaine’s NEASC accreditation and will continue to award baccalaureate degrees. For students on both campuses, the proposed partnership has the potential to broaden the portfolios of academic and research opportunities — from shared courses and transfer programs to advanced degree pathways. For graduate students, it also could provide teaching opportunities.

And like UMaine, growing enrollment at UMM will be key to sustainability and stability.

We outlined the goals and recommendations of the primary partnership in the January budget forum. I encourage you to view the presentation online and, feel free to offer feedback and suggestions on both the UMaine FY18 budget and the UMaine-UMM primary partnership. Budget feedback can be submitted online or by email (umpresident@maine.edu or umcbo@maine.edu); a UMaine-UMM partnership online survey is available.

Next month, we will be present our preliminary base budget to a University of Maine System Board of Trustees committee. In addition, at its March 26–27 meeting, the BOT is expected to act on the final recommendations of the primary partnership with Machias.

Our community will come together for a third FY18 budget discussion on March 28.

Another important date this month: Feb. 16, the Academic Affairs Faculty Forum, “Think 30 and Beyond: Next Steps in Support of Student Success.” At this forum, Provost Hecker and Senior Associate Provost St. John will provide an update on next steps we are taking to support timely graduation of our students.

I hope you can join us for all of these important community forums that are essential to UMaine’s strategy and success.