Chancellor Malloy is encouraging other System universities to find positions for faculty who lost their jobs due to budget shortfalls at the University of Maine at Farmington
Orono, Maine — Following nearly a decade of declining enrollment, during which time the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) saw its undergraduate enrollment fall nearly 30%, the university informed nine faculty members and the university system’s faculty union on May 2 that these faculty positions would be eliminated as part of a plan to close a $5 million budget deficit at UMF.
The University of Maine System’s (UMS) faculty labor contract guarantees retrenched faculty full salary and benefits for one-and-a-half years after notice of retrenchment, as well as priority rights to positions with other universities in the System, provided they are qualified for the positions.
“I regret the public misunderstanding over how and why these decisions were made,” Chancellor Malloy said today. “And I understand the fear and uncertainty that the necessary changes at the University of Maine at Farmington have created. None of us wanted this to come to pass, and the impact of the retrenchments are felt personally by the students, staff and faculty — even among those who were not directly impacted.”
Facing a $5 million budget deficit for the coming fiscal year with no university reserves, and the System’s budget reserves severely depleted by stock market losses in its temporary investment accounts due to global geopolitical tensions, UMS and faculty union leaders attempted to stave off retrenchments by offering a special faculty retirement incentive for faculty statewide. More than 100 faculty took the offer, although the nine faculty retirements from UMF were not enough to close the university’s budget gap. More cuts were needed.
With the help of an academic consultant, UMF President Edward Serna and Provost Eric Brown, working with university leaders and System Human Resources and Labor staff, reviewed low-enrolled and under-performing academic programs, as well as requirements in the System’s faculty labor contract, to determine which faculty would be selected for retrenchments. The university leaders prepared a written program analysis to support their recommendations to the Chancellor.
“Approving President Serna and Provost Brown’s plan was among the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make this year,” Chancellor Malloy said. “I have incredible empathy and compassion for how deeply this affects the entire Farmington community, and my utmost hope is that Farmington can stabilize and put itself back in a position to grow.”
Chancellor Malloy continues to encourage the presidents and provosts of other UMS universities to try to make offers of continuing employment to UMF faculty who lost their jobs. As an incentive to do so, the System offered last week to reimburse other UMS universities for the first year of salary and benefits, as well as any travel or relocation costs, for any displaced UMF faculty who receive and accept an offer of continuing employment with another university.
“Our focus must remain on serving our students and maintaining a university system that is accessible and affordable,” Chancellor Malloy said.
About the University of Maine System
Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites seven Maine’s distinctive public universities, comprising 10 campuses and numerous centers, in the common purpose of providing quality higher education while delivering on its traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research, and public service.
In 2020 UMS became the first and only statewide enterprise of public higher education in the country to transition to a unified accreditation for the system. Much different than a merger or consolidation, unified accreditation is a new operating model for the University of Maine System that removes the primary barrier to inter-institutional collaboration.
A comprehensive public institution of higher education, UMS serves more than 30,000 students annually and is supported by the efforts of more than 2,000 full-time and part-time faculty, more than 3,000 regular full-time and part-time staff, and a complement of part-time temporary (adjunct) faculty.
Reaching more than 500,000 people annually through educational and cultural offerings, the University of Maine System also benefits from more than two-thirds of its alumni population residing within the state; more than 123,000 individuals.
The System consists of seven main campuses: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The System also includes a UMA campus in Bangor, USM campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.