Under the current model, there is no conceivable scenario in which the University of Southern Maine’s all-source revenue can match its operating and capital expenditures.
USM has basically three sources of revenue: tuition, state appropriations and private giving.
USM cannot increase tuition without pricing itself out of the market.
Because of other demands on its revenue, the state cannot materially increase its appropriation either to the University of Maine System in general or USM in particular.
Finally, USM has not fostered a tradition of private giving and, in view of recent developments, smart potential donors have good reason to be chary about supporting what may be a failing – or at least flailing – enterprise.
Moreover, USM has little room for reducing expenditures.
Because of a long-standing, grossly improvident policy of deferring routine maintenance, USM’s expenditures on its physical plant must unavoidably rise just to keep the doors open.
By bespeaking decline, cutting programs will discourage new enrollment, thus further lowering revenue; nobody swims toward a sinking ship.
Consolidating campuses and asking faculty and staff to take voluntary cuts in pay is just palpably unrealistic.
Saving USM will take more than pretty – and empty – words about creating a “nimble,” “relevant,” “metropolitan university.”
Ultimately, in order to provide the necessary resources to build a university in southern Maine offering creditable scholarship, teaching and research, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees will have to decide which other parts of the system must be sacrificed.
Perry H. Clark