Administration gives specifics on budget cuts at USM, details layoffs

Sokvonny Chhouk

Posted on April 15, 2013 in News
By Nathan Mooney

In an email sent to USM students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, President Theo Kalikow released details on $5 million in cuts, the majority of which showed faculty and staff reductions, to be made to the USM budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

Of the cuts, $3.1 million identified to date will come from from wages, salaries and benefits, and the remaining $1.1 million from savings on utilities, travel, supplies and other non-personnel areas. Kalikow identified 22 positions in the email that have been eliminated or discontinued from faculty and staff. The university has yet to identify cuts for the final $600,000.
Across departments, many of the decisions were limited by contractual obligations, and many of the cuts came from not renewing contracts that were already ending.

“There are only certain things that can be cut,” said Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Lynn Kuzma.

Kuzma’s department is losing three lecturers in sociology, history and music education as a result of the cuts. Her office had to decide which course sections they could eliminate without damaging their students’ ability to fulfill course requirements. The college will also be raising the student count by four in some classes to compensate for a reduced number of sections.

“We didn’t eliminate any courses that would have impeded a student’s major,” said Adam Tuchinksy, associate dean of CAHS. He helped determine which classes could be cut, and according to him, the college placed a priority on keeping sections with greater availability for students like evening classes. They also attempted to eliminate duplicate sections of courses. All told, 25 course sections were cancelled from next fall’s course offerings. Though none of the cuts were easy, Tuchinsky was confident that the college would be able to satisfy the needs of its students, adding that it will be easier to continue to make the needed changes to course section offerings if USM students can break their habit of registering for classes late.

“In the past students have been able to wait,” said Tuchinsky, “but if we don’t see a student demand, we won’t be able to add a section.”

Kuzma said that her priority in making the cuts was to minimize the effect on students, but with large cuts needed, some painful fallout is unavoidable. Kuzma identified one of the lecturer positions that is not being renewed as one of the grimmer realities in her college’s cuts.

“His specialty is Western European history,” said Kuzma. “Now we might not be able to offer a Western Europe class in the future.” Kuzma reiterated Tuchinsky’s hope that students will sign up for classes earlier than usual for next semester since the changes to course offerings will be ongoing as registration continues.

“We’re going to cancel classes earlier that are under-enrolled, and we want to be just as quick to add them.”

Dick Campbell, chief financial officer for USM, is working with each college and the University of Maine System to determine how the school can make up the needed $5 million by the end of June. Campbell said his office is still working to determine where the additional $600,000 in cuts that need to be made will come from, but it is a tough process.

“Every cut you make makes it more difficult to find more,” said Campbell. He was told by the UMS financial office that USM was not the only university in the system that was still working to substantiate the needed cuts. Though his office has taken the cuts in stride, he admitted a distaste for the difficult process. “None of the choices we’re making are things where you go, ‘This is just great.’”

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