In a special meeting of the Faculty Senate in response to the series of faculty layoffs and program cut proposals, the Faculty Senate voted unanimously to reject the actions taken by the administration, including the layoffs and the proposed program cuts, despite its support for the idea of a metropolitan university.
“I would like to walk out of here with the beginning of an alternate plan,” Faculty Senate chair and physics professor Jerry LaSala told the senate at the beginning of the meeting.
LaSala noted that the Faculty Senate’s response to the president’s proposals was not due until May 5. “We’ve got plenty of time to work on this. That doesn’t mean we can sit back, but it does mean we can use our brains.”
“Jerry said we have till May 5 to come up with a proposal, realize that the legislature will be out by then,” said senate vice-chair and associate professor of leadership and organizational studies Tara Coste.
LaSala reminded the senate that he had cooperated with the administration, serving as co-chair of the Direction Package Advisory Board for much of the year. “At the moment I personally feel rather betrayed by the turn things have taken over last two weeks.”
LaSala said that the administration was not present at the meeting because he had not invited them, with the hope that the senators would then feel comfortable to speak their minds and devise an alternate plan.
Over the course of the meeting, the senate passed several motions requesting an explanation of the criteria being used to evaluate departments before selecting proposed cuts and also the criteria used to identify the programs that the laid-off faculty were selected from.
Student Body President Kelsea Dunham addressed the senate and asked that students be included in any committees they form. “Obviously students care, and they want to be involved,” she said.
In fact, five of the students who attended the senate meeting addressed the crowded room, expressing their support of the faculty and announcing their intentions to take action against the layoffs and cuts.
Nursing professor and Faculty Senate representative to the Board of Trustees Valerie Hart asked for input from the members of the senate on how they would like her to address the issues at the Board of Trustees meeting Sunday and Monday. She asked the senate to bear in mind that faculty and student representatives no longer have an official voice at the table at board meetings, so her input would be in unofficial conversations.
After voting to extend the meeting three times, the senate finally passed a resolution stating its rejection of the actions taken by the administration on the grounds that the program cuts and faculty layoffs are not in the best interest of the students, the communities USM serves, or the entire state of Maine, and that, furthermore, they are not consistent with the vision of a metropolitan university. The resolution will be sent to the Board of Trustees.
The text of the resolution reads:
“The USM Faculty Senate embraces the notion of a metropolitan university while rejecting the current implementation actions. These actions are not in the best interest of the students, the state of Maine or the communities we serve, nor are they consistent with a true metropolitan university.”