USM board to vote on budget cuts

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PORTLAND — A proposal to cut two programs at the University of Southern Maine — undergraduate French and graduate applied medical sciences — could move one step closer to finalization on Wednesday.

Members of the board of trustees academic and students affairs committee will vote whether to approve these program cuts at a meeting on USM’s Portland campus. If they do, the full board will vote whether to finalize the eliminations on Friday.

The program eliminations are just one part of a plan presented by USM President David Flanagan earlier this month to cut $6 million from the university’s budget. He proposed reductions in 25 academic programs, which would result in the elimination of 50 faculty positions. An additional $10 million will be eliminated from the $134 million budget through cuts in administration and capital expenditures later this year, bringing the total to $16 million if Flanagan’s plan is approved.

Faculty members within the university system were offered a retirement package and USM administrators were hoping many of those who hold the positions targeted for elimination would take the incentive.

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Only 24 of those faculty members did, however, leaving the administration to potentially lay off 26 faculty members.

Chris Quint, USM’s director of public affairs, said on Tuesday that no final determinations have been made regarding the retrenchments, but that they would be made by the end of October.

Quint said that 12 other faculty members have agreed to retire, but they do not come from the programs that the administration has identified for reductions and do not count toward the 50 positions proposed for elimination.

USM students and professors have fought back against the proposed cuts, initiating a letter-writing campaign to save French.

The faculty who have agreed to take the retirement package come from the following departments:

— English: 4

— Education: 3

— Public Policy & Management (Muskie): 1

— Community Planning & Development (Muskie): 3

— American & New England Studies: 1

— History: 1

— Communication and Media Studies: 1

— Psychology: 1

— Sociology: 2

— School of Music: 1

— Philosophy: 1

— Geosciences: 1

— Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures: 1

— Technology: 1

— Applied Medical Sciences: 1

— Social & Behavioral Sciences (at LAC): 1

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