Guiding Principles for Unified Accreditation
Recognizing that greater coordination and integration among University of Maine System universities, access to more collaborative, multi-campus programs and the preservation of all University of Maine System campuses where they are will maximize the benefit Maine students and the State realize under the University of Maine System Board of Trustees’ Strategic Priorities, while acknowledging the practical burdens that separate university accreditations impose on achieving these goals at the scope, scale and pace necessary to meet the educational and workforce needs of the citizens of this State, University of Maine System universities will unify their New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accreditations following a robust period of campus engagement led by the University of Maine System Chancellor and System Presidents.
The University of Maine System’s primary goals are to:
- realize, to the fullest extent possible, the purpose and benefits the University of Maine System’s formation was meant to achieve, which unified accreditation is expected to catalyze and foster;
- preserve the academic, financial and administrative operations of the University of Maine System universities that best serve the interests of University of Maine System students and the State and provide the highest quality educational experience; and
- relieve individual campuses of the burden of each fully complying on their own with all NECHE standards.
Pursuant to University of Maine System Board Policy 212 and the University of Maine System Statement on Shared Governance, faculty will retain all rights to academic freedom and shared governance to develop academic policy, curriculum and faculty appointment and promotion and tenure standards on their campuses and as necessary for multi-campus programs developed under a unified accreditation.
The University of Maine System will follow existing collective bargaining agreements and bargain in good faith with its employees’ representatives as necessary to achieve unified accreditation.
The University of Maine System universities will remain where they are as provided in 20-A MRS §10901-A, preserving all existing multi-campus arrangements (e.g., UMaine-UMM Primary Partnership, USM partnership in UMaine Graduate and Professional Center, etc.) and not merging or closing campuses to achieve unified accreditation. University of Maine System university Presidents will preside over their respective universities and be responsible for the day-to-day operation and development of their university’s academic, research, service and extracurricular programs within limits defined by the Board of Trustees and Chancellor. The University of Maine System will continue to operate under its existing Charter, with Presidents accountable to the University of Maine System Chancellor and Board as leaders of their universities and the Chancellor serving as the University of Maine System’s Chief Executive Officer.
The University of Maine System will maintain, to the maximum degree possible, the current independent IPEDS reporting and financial aid eligibility and administration at each university (an example for which is the University of Maine at Machias IPEDS reporting separately from the University of Maine). Although the University of Maine System will be responsible for complying with NECHE standards, it will delegate substantial authority back to its universities for coordinated, unified compliance with NECHE standards where doing so improves the educational experience and student outcomes and maximizes efficiencies.
The University of Maine System will pursue unified accreditation transparently, making official written correspondence between the University of Maine System, NECHE and the U.S. Department of Education and related materials publicly available without request, including past communications and records showing historical consideration of single and unified accreditation.
The University of Maine System University Presidents will maintain and manage their current accreditations and correspondence with NECHE related to them and work with the University of Maine System Chancellor to determine appropriate transition plans for unified accreditation. The Chancellor (and his designees) and the University of Maine System university Presidents (and their designees) will develop and prepare all material the University of Maine System unified accreditation applications, reports and correspondence and Presidents will be copied on all records, reports and correspondence received related to unified accreditation.
The University of Maine will retain its land, sea and space grant statuses and each University will retain its Carnegie and related national classification and association status and individual program and professional accreditations according to all appropriate and relevant standards. All University of Maine System universities will work to achieve strategic complementarity to ensure the success of unified accreditation. Each will retain, to the maximum extent possible within the higher education public policy of the State, its distinctive academic, research, athletic (including conference and division affiliations) and extracurricular programs.