University of Southern Maine to cut 50 faculty and 2 programs to save $6M of budget gap

The University of Southern Maine will cut 50 faculty positions and two academic programs as it tries to close a $16 million budget gap, the school announced Monday.

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The moves, which are expected to cut $6 million off the deficit, are the first of a three-step plan to downsize the public Portland university that has seen enrollment drop almost 30 percent in the last five years, the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1EkN7Vi ) reports.

Provost Joseph McDonnell said in an email to faculty that the "current crisis is too deep to merely trim the sails."

"It will require a fundamental change in academic programs, in our culture, and in expectations of faculty inside and outside of the classroom."

Monday's round of cuts are intended to close the budget gap for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2015.

The university's administration wants to eliminate the master's program in applied medical sciences and the undergraduate French program. The University of Maine System Board of Trustees voted last month to cut the American and New England studies graduate program, the geosciences major and arts and humanities major at the Lewiston-Auburn campus.

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Fifteen of the 50 faculty cuts are professors who have or will be eliminated. The rest of the positions will be cut through retirements or layoffs. The university said it will announce specific layoffs by Oct. 31.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com