Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Botman addresses faculty criticism, urges university to move forward

Posted on April 22, 2012 in News, Uncategorized
By Noah Hurowitz

President Botman speaks at a Faculty Senate meeting in spring 2011.
File photo by Charlie Widdis
President Botman speaks at a Faculty Senate meeting in spring 2011.
University of Southern Maine President Selma Botman reached out in an email to members of the USM community Tuesday, addressing the recent criticism of her from faculty and highlighting a number initiatives the university is undertaking to increase enrollment.

Botman wrote that her commitment, her management style and the decisions she’s made in her tenure at USM have been questioned and debated.

“As you can well imagine, this is not easy, either for me or for those faculty who differ adamantly with my decisions as president,” she wrote.

Botman faces a vote of no confidence from faculty, triggered by a petition circulated earlier this month and signed by 53 senior faculty members — roughly 15 percent of total faculty. Faculty Senate bylaws require at least 10 percent of faculty to sign a petition in order for a referendum to be held.

Botman wrote in the email Tuesday that she understands the anger faculty feel after a decade-long drop in enrollment, a major academic reorganization  and years of financial difficulty, including a $5.1 million budget shortfall projected for the upcoming 2013 fiscal year that forced three colleges to cut $1 million from their budgets.

The president also took the opportunity to highlight a number accomplishments on the part of the university in recent months, including hiring 13 new professors for the fall, which she said increases USM’s ability to attract and accommodate more international students.

One of the major criticisms from the members of faculty opposed to Botman is a perceived top-down leadership style and an unwillingness to listen — a criticism laid out in a list of grievances the faculty released April 11. [link] Botman wrote in her email that she is committed to keeping open communications with all sectors of the university and has been meeting with groups of faculty and staff to discuss their specific needs.

“I have learned so much from these conversations, and they have provided powerful evidence of how deeply people care about USM, their departments and their work,” Botman wrote. ” I am already thinking about how to apply what I have learned to the advancement of the university.”