The University of Maine System Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved the plan that consolidates USM’s eight colleges into five, eliminating three deans’ positions and saving the school $1.3 million a year.
The board’s approval marks the final stage in a process that began last August, when USM President Selma Botman announced that persistent budget deficits — stemming from lackluster enrollment and declining state funding — called for a reassessment of the very structure of the university.
“The work of the past year was difficult and highly consuming. It was, nevertheless, exhilarating,” Botman wrote today in a letter to the community.
“We now are poised to transform this university in profound ways that will distinguish and energize our academic core, while repositioning us for future growth and sustainability,” she added. “To make that transformation a reality, the hard work of implementation now begins.”
The colleges affected are: The College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Business; College of Nursing and Health Professions; the School of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology; the College of Education & Human Development; and the Muskie School of Public Service. The schools will be consolidated into three larger colleges: Engineering, Health Professions, Nursing, Science & Technology College; Communication, Culture & the Arts College; and Public Service, Business, Graduate Education & Social Work College. The final names of the new colleges are not final, Caswell said.
The University of Maine School of Law and Lewiston-Auburn College will not be affected in the consolidation.
Botman will call upon volunteers to help draft specific proposals for implementing the plan in the coming weeks, she said. The drafts will be considered “starting points,” she said, and more concrete plans will be formed during the fall semester.
Search committees, with representation from the three new colleges, will also be formed in the next few weeks to conduct internal searches for interim deans.
“The goal is to have these interim deans appointed by August,” said Botman. “I do not anticipate leadership changes for such units as the Muskie School, the School of Music, the School of Nursing, and the School of Social Work.”
USM Spokesman Bob Caswell said department heads will likely be eliminated as the restructuring plan is implemented in the coming months.