President Theo Kalikow surprised those in attendance at today’s Faculty Senate meeting when she announced a reversal of all 12 of the faculty cuts that Provost Michael Stevenson had made in March.

She made the decision at the meeting, she said. It was so sudden a decision, she noted, that the previously retrenched faculty had yet even to be notified of the change.

Executive Director of Public Affairs Bob Caswell explained that Kalikow asked for a designated Faculty Senate committee to submit an alternate cost-saving proposal that would generate the same “savings and outcomes” as the previous actions. That committee will have until May 31 to submit the proposal to Kalikow, at which point she will take the alternative proposal under advisement.

Multiple faculty present thanked the president for her announcement. “Thank you President Kalikow for restoring some hope in this process,” said associate professor of nursing Kim Moody.

Kalikow said that the three programs slated for cuts in mid-March, Geosciences, LAC Humanities and the graduate program in American and New England Studies are still on the table. The Faculty Senate Academic Review Committee will have until May 5 to propose alternative cuts to President Kalikow.

The process of staff cuts Kalikow said will also continue. During the fiscal year 2015, 14 staff have already been officially laid off. As part of the efforts to fill the remaining $14 million gap, Kalikow announced last month that 10 to 20 additional staff would have to be notified.

When asked whether or not those staff had already received their notices, Kalikow declined to comment on specifics, but added that she thought that three staff had been notified in the last week of their termination.

Kalikow also explained that the process going forward has not yet been decided. Much of the work that remains, she said, depends upon the results of the faculty committee recommendations. “What else we will do is still to be determined,” she said. However, she added that everything may be back on the table after the senate committee’s proposals have been considered, including the 12 reinstated faculty members.

“It may turn out that they get fresh letters,” she said. “It may be that people who didn’t get letters [will get] them.” But any new letters will have to wait for October after the start of the new fiscal year, the next possible deadline at which faculty may be retrenched according to their contracts.

With the news of Kalikow’s decision, student and faculty protesters rejoiced. Many faculty, students and locals praised the efforts of students as directly causing the reversal of the cuts.

When Kalikow was asked how student efforts to protest the retrenchments affected her decision today, she responded that the impact was only indirect. She added, however, that she was pleased with the level of student involvement.

“I’ve been waiting for thirty years for students to wake up,” she said.

In a prepared statement, #USMfuture organizers said that they saw the president’s decision as an “incredible victory for the #USMFuture movement,” but they added that the fight isn’t over yet.

“We also see this as just one step in the ongoing struggle and pledge to continue to oppose all cuts, including staff and department cuts, until the Board of Trustees agrees to an independent audit of UMaine system spending.”

They plan are gathering tonight to celebrate in the Woodbury Campus Center.


    • The decision to make the faculty cuts and the decision to make the staff cuts, not the specific positions but the numbers themselves, were announced at the same time. One doesn’t replace the other, both were part of the administration’s “plan” to address he budget shortfall, and both should, and will, be vehemently opposed by the student body.

    • This is so ugly. We need to turn out attention to the staff. We brought up in a meeting with state reps and senators yesterday that the salaries of faculty and staff let go are a drop in the bucket of this supposed budget shortfall. Getting rid of lower paid workers makes no sense.

    • Folks–the answer is cuts need to be made. You are now getting the opportunity you wanted to decide which heads roll. Congratulations!

    • That number hasn’t changed it is the 10-20 plus 14 that happened earlier.
      The University of Southern Maine is trying to cut $14 million, or 10 percent, from its $140 million annual budget. Proposed cuts include staffing and programming changes.
      • Eliminating American and New England Studies
      • Eliminating Geosciences
      • Eliminating Recreational and Leisure Studies
      • Eliminating the Arts and Humanities major at the Lewiston-Auburn College
      FACULTY: Cutting faculty by 20-30 people, which includes eight faculty members in the four shuttered programs.
      STAFF: Cutting staff by 10-20 people. The cuts are in addition to 14 staff members laid off earlier this year.

  1. A great victory today. It is incumbent upon students and faculty to look closely at staff cuts. It Is easy to confuse and therefore not make the distinction between administrators and staff. Especially when the latter support students. In my own world Pam Edwards in the CAHS Deans office solves a zillion problems a year for faculty and students, Sharmon Toner is in many ways the most essential staff person in our college, and Economics admin Shirley Cote cares for our students with professional acumen and a kind heart. These are STAFF, and not the Vice President of bureaucracy proliferation in Bangor. Today was a reprieve, not an end. Let us be embracing in our solidarity and clear on the fault lines.

  2. The loss of anyone’s job, inevitable or not, is equally devastating to them and surely detrimental to the university. There is no fat in staff ranks -things have/will just stop working. The lack of acknowledgement about a USM staff employee’s sudden disappearance is surely magnified by gestures such as the new facebook logo “USM Faculty Students.”

  3. I can’t help but think that if I had been in Kalikow’s place last November, this conversation would have played out so much differently. If someone had brought news to me of a budget shortfall, I’d say to them, “Prove it.” If dissenting members of the faculty, like Susan Feiner said to me, “This isn’t what they’re saying it is,” I’d listen. As someone who, like Theo, had been a professor and had worked so hard as a faculty union rep for so much of my career, the very last decision I would make would be to cut the faculty and staff, who I know make up so little of the over all budget expenditure for the school. I’d be saying to myself, “Gee, let’s find other ways. I’m sitting at a college campus with some of the best and brightest from the state – I know, I’ll ask them!” Instead, she and the board of trustees made jargon-laden, nebulous announcements about what to expect on our campus. They have made half-hearted and spurious attempts to “include” faculty, staff, and students in their conversations – conversations ABOUT OUR FUTURE. These lectures we’ve received have been far from true dialogues, which by definition mean an exchange of ideas in which both parties are heard. Instead, we’ve been talked AT. When students, faculty and staff have banded together to hold our own conversation, she’s held distracting meetings in the gym to divert attention from what we’re doing in an attempt to divide and conquer.

    And let’s see where we are now. “Your jobs are safe, for now. I might hand you another letter at some point, so don’t get too comfortable. You’re still potentially expendable, so let’s not get cocky.” When asked by members of the press whether her decision to table retrenchments came from student protest activity, she answered with a resounding “NO” and headlines which celebrated her humanity and compassion were immediately redacted.

    I’ll refrain from profanity here, though those who know me well appreciate what a challenge that is for me.

    From all of the faculty, staff, and students at USM and throughout the UMaine system who are tired of fighting against you, Theo Kalikow, we implore you to have a heart, and consider your legacy. True, you stand to lose nothing financially from your actions now, and you exist in a bubble of safety (despite our suggestions, your job isn’t on the line). But think instead about what is right, and what your stance in all this means for those who will read about you in the future. Not what has been told to you is your “job,” but what history will remember you for.

  4. Where has the faculty support and protest and the student support and protest been over the past 5-6 years as some of the lowest paid staff at USM, the Administrative Assistants, have been losing their jobs? Suddenly because the cuts reach the faculty, everyone’s in an uproar.

  5. I understand that the Faculty Senate passed a resolution opposing staff cuts on Friday when President Kalikow reiterated her commitment to continuing staff layoffs. Also, the retrenchments are off the table for now….”fresh letters” may be coming in the fall so this is an important but partial win for the protestors.

  6. It’s unfortunate that Kalikow didn’t answer the questions about staff layoffs as she certainly knows what they are. The real numbers are that we have had approximately 22 layoffs and forced schedule reductions of salaried and hourly staff in the last few weeks. At least 12 were layoffs. We fully expect more to come. I have asked Kalikow to honor the faculty resolution to freeze future staff layoffs and to rescind the ones she has already issued, but she has not responded to me as of today. Many staff at USM have already begun packing up personal belongings out of fear that they will be called into a meeting and be laid off on the spot. For staff, when we are laid off it is immediate and we have a few minutes to clean out our offices and are escorted out of the building. And as others have pointed out, many of those staff that end up getting laid off are the least paid and the ones who work directly in support of students, while top administrators who never teach a course or support students remain with their 100K year salaries.

    Jim Bradley, President, UMPSA – USM

    • Amen, Jim. Well said. Lower level staff are being gotten rid of quietly and with no notice or fanfare or attention whatsoever. It will be just as devastating, if not more devastating, for me if I quietly lose my 24,000 a year job with a two minute warning and no fanfare and no howling into microphones as it is for a faculty member to lose his or her 50-80 thousand dollar job with a two-month warning.

      • And not only a two-month warning, but 18 months at full salary, starting at the end of the semester in which they are retrenched. No budget gains shown for a year and a half. We dime-a-dozen staff people with years of experience under our belts are instant gratification for the budget manipulators.

  7. The temporary rescission of faculty layoffs and the extremely “conditional” reevaluation language used by the current president should be seen as an attempt to move the time of decision announcements beyond the end of the semester when faculty and students have scattered.

    Those who have so mis-managed USM resources over the last decade are not being asked to pay a personal price for the quality of their judgment and actions.

    To avoid such painful, “moral hazard” situations in the future, the Legislature should require that the portion of compensation in excess of $150k per year be sequestered for three or more years and made contingent on performance of the institution.

    To keep the public adequately informed about the conditions of employment of senior University officials, contracts, employment policies in full detail, records of compensation and reimbursement, and the like need to be moved into full view.


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