Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Flanagan balances the budget

Sokvonny Chhouk | The Free Press

Posted on December 10, 2014 in News
By Sam Hill

The administration announced last week that they have successfully created a framework to balance USM’s budget for the next fiscal year and close its $16 million structural gap.

When everything is finalized, the university will have eliminated 160 positions to retirements, layoffs and nixing vacant jobs. The university will be saving $7 million from faculty positions and $5 million from staff and administration eliminations.

“We made difficult decisions to arrive at this framework, decisions that involve choices about organization, infrastructure, reserves and, most challenging of all, personnel,” wrote President David Flanagan in a letter to the USM community last week. “We are sad for the individuals affected and the loss to our community of talented colleagues.”

According to Flanagan, the framework was designed to reduce costs in all sectors of the university, so not one group was feeling the entirety of the eliminations.

“This does not conclude the layoffs, but it’s virtually the end,” said Flanagan at last week’s faculty senate meeting, mentioning that the administration was still looking to consolidate other offices, like research and development.

Some faculty members still took issue with the faculty eliminations.

Christy Hammer, an associate professor of social and behavioral sciences and president of the USM branch of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine, asked Flanagan to rescind the faculty retrenchments that were announced last month.

“You use them in your ads and then you fire them,” said Paul Nakroshis, a professor of physics.

Nakroshis said that he had done rough estimates of how much money the university will lose because of the retrenchments, taking the number of students taught by the 50 professors who were either fired or retrenched and adding up those tuition dollars. He said it ended up around $16 million, more than double the savings the administration say they’re saving through retrenchments.

“I’m not planning on losing all of that tuition income,” said Flanagan, saying that USM will have to alter its class sizes to match regional competitors.

Hammer noted that most of the faculty being retrenched are middle-aged and have kids when she tried to convince Flanagan to reverse the administration’s decision. AFUM contracts require universities to retrench junior faculty before older, more expensive professors

“I’m sorry the AFUM contracts require an order to layoffs the way that it does,” said Flanagan.

Flanagan repeated that looking for more funding from the state government is a focus of any financial analysis at USM.

Flanagan said, “It’s hard to do given the state’s economic climate and dealing with those who are in charge, but we’re working on it.”

  • Anonymous

    The best way to achieve public and legislative support would be to open the books — all funds, all accounts, all records.

    What ARE the expenditure and revenue details over the last 5 fiscal years? What were the detailed budgets in those periods? What is the proposed budget in detail for the forthcoming FY?

    The time to generate this information from the UMS PeopleSoft system is trivial. The time to put it online in an easily-digestable format might be a few days’ effort at most.

    The five line summary offered above is not a meaningful statement about the fiscal state of the University of Southern Maine. The public and the Legislature deserve much better.