University of Southern Maine to Maintain 3 Campuses
Members of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees Affirm Commitment to Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn Campuses
BANGOR, MAINE – Members of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees affirmed today that the University of Southern Maine would continue to operate its three campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn as the university moves forward with its academic alignment initiative and transition to the Metropolitan University Model.
Earlier this month the University of Southern Maine launched a strategic academic alignment of its programs to maintain affordability, improve student access and become more agile in meeting student demand and community needs as a Metropolitan University. The alignment will combine and strengthen programs while saving approximately $6 million by reducing the faculty by 50 positions. The academic alignment is the first phase in closing USM’s $16 million structural gap for FY 2016.
Last week the USM Faculty Senate proposed an alternative approach that would include shutting down one of three campuses that serve USM students. The proposal did not identify a campus for closure and offered no supporting details or data.
“The suggestion that USM should close one of its campuses to close its budget gap is short sighted and is inconsistent with current law,” offered Board of Trustee Chair Sam Collins. “Our Lewiston-Auburn campus serves Maine’s second largest population center and state statute mandates that USM include campuses in Gorham and Portland.”
Title 20-A MRSA (section 10901-A) states that the University of Maine System consists of seven universities and defines the locations. USM is defined as being located in Portland and Gorham.
Karl Turner, a member of the Board of Trustees and member of the board’s Facilities, Finance and Technology Committee echoed Chairman Collins’ opposition to closing a campus. He is also a leader of the University of Maine System’s Facilities Management Review Team that is tasked with finding savings, efficiencies and incremental revenue from a better utilization of the system’s physical plant.
“Closing one of our campuses would be a huge strategic mistake,” said Turner. “We will continue to find savings in our facilities but we cannot jeopardize the reach or mission of USM by eliminating one of our campuses.”
“Uprooting existing facilities and relocating them to maintain critical services would take several years and likely cost tens-of-millions of dollars we simply do not have,” Turner continued.
USM’s Lewiston-Auburn campus serves Maine’s second largest population center. The Gorham campus has student residential buildings, athletic fields, space for music and theatre performances, and the facilities to serve engineering and technology programs. The Portland campus has a focus on graduate and professional programs, the Muskie School and the University of Maine School of Law.
USM President David Flanagan also expressed his support for maintaining locations in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn.
“We have asked the faculty to participate in an academic alignment initiative and a drive for teaching productivity that will knock down the programmatic and campus silos that threaten our affordability and are a barrier to academic agility,” said President Flanagan. “We will concentrate on finding reasonable efficiencies so we can continue to serve our students and communities from our Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn campuses.”