AUGUSTA — University of Maine System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude says the seven-campus system has made great strides in cutting back expenses in order to avoid a $43 million deficit.

In a text of his annual State of the University address today to the Maine Legislature, Pattenaude says that like many businesses, the system has trimmed its work force, and now has 7 percent fewer employees. It also finished last year with expenditures $5 million below the previous year, and slashed the unfunded liability for its retiree health care.

Those and other changes came since trustees adopted a multi-year austerity plan called New Challenges, New Directions in November 2009.

Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons and Maine Maritime Academy President William Brennan were also invited to address a joint House-Senate session today.