UMaine plans to cut $7 million

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ORONO — The University of Maine estimates it will cut $7 million from its $242.2 million budget this year in order to resolve a systemwide budget shortfall.

UMaine administrators gave a presentation on the process by which the cuts are being made at a meeting on the Orono campus on Thursday morning.

Ryan Low, the university’s vice president for administration and finance, said that each department has been given a number that it must cut. Department heads will submit statements by Oct. 22 describing how they will come up with the savings and the impact these cuts will have on their departments.

Of the $7 million that the university must identify, $3.2 million will come from academic affairs. That includes the university’s five colleges, the honors college and the cooperative extension.

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Low emphasized that though academic affairs makes up 73.9 percent of the total budget, the cuts to that department make up only 45.7 percent of the total that will be cut from the university.

The university will cut $900,000 from administration and finance, $500,000 from development, $440,000 from the president’s areas, $200,000 from research and $200,000 from student affairs.

Another $1.56 million is yet to be identified. Low explained that those savings will be found through collaborative work across departments, but that the goal will be for those cuts to have as little impact on students as possible.

An example might be that there’s a building that the university could give up, he explained.

Low said there are many factors that could change the overall total that the university must cut or the share that individual departments must shoulder.

One of those factors is the state appropriation to the University of Maine System, which has remained relatively flat over the past 10 years, even as the cost to run the system has gone up. The state appropriation to the system was $183.2 million in 2008, but is $176.2 million this year.

In September, the board of trustees voted to ask the state to increase the system’s appropriation for the next two years to $182.2 million next year and $189.1 million the following year.

Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Rebecca Wyke said that the increase is necessary if the university system is going to continue to hold tuition flat, as it has since 2012.

Wyke and UMS Chancellor James Page have said that the seven-university system must cut $69 million from its budget by fiscal year 2019. The budget shortfall is caused by a declining student population in Maine and the flat state appropriation, paired with rising costs, they say.

Last week, University of Southern Maine President David Flanagan announced a plan that would begin the process of cutting $16 million from that campus’ budget. The plan proposes cutting 50 faculty positions and two programs — undergraduate French and graduate applied medical sciences.

UMaine will submit a more finalized version of the budget to the board of trustees in December. The board will vote on the budget, along with the other six campuses’ budgets, in May. This year, the seven universities are submitting their budgets about four months earlier than in previous years to give the trustees more time to analyze the budgets.

Members of the UMaine community can fill out a budget feedback form to give the administration their input on the process and decisions being made around the budget.

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