In an effort to trim $1 million from non-academic spending by the next fiscal year, the university is planning to shutter the Portland campus Health Services trailer, reduce hours for Health Services employees, lay off employees in the Department of Research Administration, and sell 68 High Street — a building currently used as a lab for media studies students and as offices for the Maine Small Business Development Centers.
The cuts are part of a restructuring of non-academic services outlined in USM’s Strategic Plan, a document that lays out USM’s core mission as it seeks to save money in a time of waning public support for higher education.
The closing of the Health Services trailer in Portland means students who need minor medical attention will have to go to the police station in the Sullivan Fitness Complex for first aid, or take a bus to the Gorham campus to the Health Services Center in Upton Hastings Hall. The counseling centers in Payson Smith Hall will remain open.
“Health Services has never been an emergency services operation,” Craig Hutchinson, vice president of university life said Friday. Though, “if somebody shows up and are bleeding from their eye, they’re going to get attention.”
The cuts to Health Services take effect Sept. 1.
The university is considering setting up smaller locations in Portland where students can access health care, he said. Administrators are “looking at some sort of arrangement through local health care providers,” he added, though currently there are no concrete plans.
The university will also reduce the hours of 15 employees in Health and Counseling by closing down between semesters and during the summer break. Officials say these changes will save $300,000 a year once fully implemented.
“The Portland campus health center currently is housed in an older modular building that has outlived its usefulness,” Hutchinson said.
In Portland, six people will lose their jobs in the Department of Research Administration, effective on May 31. The university estimates it will ultimately save $180,000.
“These decisions were based not on performance, but on the number and types of staff members needed to promote growth in research,” university spokesman Bob Caswell said in a news release Thursday. Twenty people currently work in the department.
“Specifically, the research administrative restructuring advances two key goals in USM’s Strategic Plan: supporting faculty research, scholarship and creative activity; and ensuring the university’s fiscal sustainability,” Caswell said.
The Department of Research Administration provides support services for faculty and staff seeking grant-funded research projects; assuring compliance with federal and other regulations; and managing relationships with funding agencies, businesses, non-profits and other organizations with interests in university-based research.
The media studies lab will reopen in the fall at the former site of the daycare on the Portland Campus.
According to Caswell, there at least one party is seriously interested in purchasing 68 High Street, though he didn’t know who.