The University of Maine at Farmington is eyeing another round of deep cuts to its faculty.

Joseph McDonnell, the interim University of Maine-Farmington president, spoke last month to University of Maine System Board of Trustees about the college’s finances. Screenshot from video

After laying off nine members of its full-time faculty last spring, it is eyeing a plan to eliminate “most adjunct faculty at the undergraduate level.”

An administration email sent to department chairpersons two weeks ago said “in light of the limited budget” available for the academic year that begins in the fall, “we will need to be extremely selective regarding which adjuncts we are able to support.”

Former state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton said Tuesday that when he looked into the issue, he was told the decisions on adjuncts will be made on a case-by-case basis but most “will not be asked to teach” until the college “can get back to fiscal health.”

News of the decision to reduce part-time faculty, first reported Tuesday by the Bangor Daily News, surprised Saviello.

Saviello, who used to teach political science part time at UMF, said he got $5,000 to teach as many as 30 students at a time – students who paid about $1,100 apiece to be in the class.


Saviello said he figures each of his classes brought in about $18,000 in profit for the university.

“Seems to me,” he said, “one would want to keep the adjuncts in place if they have the proper credentials.”

The potential cuts would slash the number of adjuncts teaching at the college from about 28 to fewer than half that number. It is not yet clear which positions are in jeopardy.

The college has about 1,500 students, down by 26% during the past decade. In the same period, the overall University of Maine system has seen student numbers drop by 11%.

During the current fiscal year, UMF was short at the end of the first semester by about $800,000 in expected tuition and fee payments, according to records presented to the University of Maine System board of trustees.

Joseph McDonnell, the interim UMF president, told system trustees Jan. 30 that the deficit arose because the college wound up with fewer out-of-state students than anticipated.


He said, though, the college was able to juggle its spending plan to close the gap.

Still, he warned, dealing with ongoing fiscal issues at UMF is not going to be easy.

“There’s nothing left in the budget except people,” McDonnell said.

The email sent to department heads told them they would know by Feb. 17 which adjuncts are approved for teaching in the fall and asked them to plan classes only with “existing faculty and approved adjuncts.”

The move follows a decision last May to lay off nine faculty members in the humanities and social sciences departments, including five tenured professors. It wiped out UMF’s Women’s and Gender Studies division, the Philosophy and Religion department, and the World Languages department.

McDonnell did offer the trustees a ray of hope.

He said there is “a spirit” on campus to figure out new and innovative ways to attract more students to the Farmington college.

“Things have to change,” McDonnell said.

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