AUGUSTA — University of Maine at Augusta officials will present a budget Wednesday that includes nearly $3 million in cuts, including the elimination of 24 jobs.
Ten people will be laid off, while 14 of the positions to be eliminated are vacant.
The budget also reduces food service on the Augusta campus, cuts the soccer teams and moves two University College centers to smaller spaces in Brunswick and Saco.
Two associate degree programs, in nursing and veterinary technology, will be phased out. But it will take a few years for students in those programs to graduate, so the savings aren’t part of the 2014-15 budget.
All of Maine’s public universities are making cuts this year to attempt to close a $36 million budget gap across the university system that resulted from a combination of flat state funding, a tuition freeze, declining enrollment and higher personnel costs.
“We have a cost structure that is really not sustainable in our current economic and demographic environment,” Chancellor James Page said.
UMA President Allyson Handley and Vice President of Finance and Administration Tim Brokaw will present the university’s $36 million budget at an open meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday in Jewett Hall.
Handley said the officials who led the budget development process tried to make the reductions equitable across academic and administrative departments and the campuses in Augusta and Bangor, as well as University College, the system’s distance education organization, which is part of UMA’s budget.
“As difficult as it has been, I believe that the recommendations that ultimately came forward through the cabinet and through my executive committee represent a fair and balanced approach,” Handley said.
In addition to the 24 jobs being eliminated, UMS will reduce the hours of 33 staff members or cut their work calenders back from full-year to something less than that.
Other cuts include:
• Less food service on the Augusta campus, probably meaning limited hours and a smaller menu.
• A scaling back of athletics, including the elimination of the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
• Offering in-person summer courses on the Bangor campus only during the first summer session.
The system trustees already have approved moving the University College site in Bath to a smaller, less expensive space at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. This weekend they’ll consider a proposal to relocate the Saco site within that city.
In addition to the cuts that would take effect next year, UMA also announced plans to phase out the nursing and veterinary technology associate degree programs.
“They are good programs with some really wonderful faculty and staff,” Handley said. “Ultimately, they are unsustainable for our institution.”
UMA was launched in 1965 as the community college of the university system, but in recent years it has reoriented its focus toward baccalaureate programs.
Employers also are more interested in nurses with bachelor’s degrees, Handley said, and UMA will continue to offer its bachelor’s completion program for registered nurses.
The associate degree program in nursing is in demand from prospective students, with a waiting list of about 200; but the low student-instructor ratios required for clinical portions of the program have limited the number of students UMA can accept and made the degree expensive to offer. Handley said UMA has been losing $1.2 million to $1.5 million on it every year.
Students already enrolled as well as those on the waiting list will have the opportunity to graduate from the program before it ends, which could take three years, Handley said.
Similarly, the veterinary technology program will continue to accept applicants through the spring of 2015, and all admitted students will have a chance to finish the three-year degree.
As a result, the savings from eliminating those programs will not appear in UMA’s budgets for three to four years.
Susan McMillan – 621-5645