AUGUSTA (AP) – University of Maine at Augusta faculty are the second to give a vote of no confidence in the University of Maine System’s trustees and Chancellor Joseph Westphal.

The vote was in response to a systemwide plan that, among other things, will merge the Augusta campus with the larger University of Southern Maine.

Jon Schlenker, a professor of anthropology and sociology, said 50 of 53 full-time faculty members who participated in the vote supported the no-confidence resolution.

“I think it’s more symbolic that substantive because we have no power,” he said.

University of Maine System trustees on Sept. 20 gave final approval to a restructuring plan to increase the efficiency of the system’s seven campuses and save up to $12 million a year.

The reorganization will consolidate many services in an effort to bring unity and cost-savings to the system, while aiming to boost enrollment, state funding and university endowments.

The plan calls for merging the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine at Augusta, while creating a consortium among campuses in Fort Kent, Presque Isle and Machias to encourage more collaboration and efficiency.

John Diamond, spokesman for the University of Maine System, said he received a copy of the Augusta faculty vote. “It’s a formal expression of disapproval, and it’s recognized as such,” he said.

Diamond said the merger will benefit the Augusta campus by providing students with a greater variety of courses and programs. The merger is expected to take two to five years to complete.

But faculty and staff complained that they were left out of the planning process. One section of the resolution said Westphal led a topdown process that “weakened the system and stakeholder trust, as well as substantially diminished faculty, staff and student morale and the future educational and entrepreneurial prospects of central Maine.”

Schlenker said professors at the University College of Bangor, which is part of University of Maine at Augusta, are expected to consider a similar resolution Wednesday.

Faculty at the University of Maine at Machias last month voted 21-11 on a no-confidence resolution targeting Westphal and the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

Faculty members said the vote was not a direct response to the reorganization plan approved two days earlier. Instead, they suggested it was about leadership.

AP-ES-10-05-04 0859EDT



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