Despite months of protests by faculty and students, three academic programs are still on track to be eliminated at the University of Southern Maine to cut costs, and balancing next year’s budget will require more layoffs and program cuts, President Theodora Kalikow announced Friday.

“We can’t do everything we are used to doing. We are at a point where strategic and sometimes hard decisions must be made,” Kalikow wrote in an email to the USM community Friday. “Given all this, I intend to continue the program elimination process begun for American and New England Studies, Arts and Humanities at (the Lewiston campus) and Geosciences.”

As of June 11, there were 57 students majoring in American and New England Studies, 61 students majoring in arts and humanities in Lewiston, and 47 students majoring in geosciences, officials said. USM has a total enrollment of 8,923 students at its Portland, Gorham and Lewiston campuses.

There was also one final layoff associated with closing the budget gap, officials said: The director of Portland Student Life, who had been with USM for 16 years, was laid off, for a savings of about $105,000, according to spokesman Bob Caswell.

The announcement was the final piece of a long drawn-out fight over how to find the last $2.5 million to close a $14 million budget gap in USM’s $134 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The University of Maine System trustees have already given USM $7 million in one-time emergency funds, and Kalikow already made $4.5 million in cuts, which included 26 staff layoffs, this spring.

Kalikow also outlined USM’s next financial hurdle: a $12.5 million gap in the next budget, for the fiscal year beginning in July 2015. That means budget talks later this year will “necessarily include faculty and staff layoffs” and more cuts to administration positions and academic programs.

“We will, as a community, continue to make hard choices,” she said. She said she did not know how many layoffs might be necessary.

American and New England Studies major David Jester said he was “very disappointed,” even though he will graduate in a year and the changes won’t affect him personally.

“I think this will spark more protests. I hope it will and I will be at the forefront because I find this unacceptable,” Jester said of the plan to eliminate the major.

The USM campus has been in upheaval over the financial problems ever since Kalikow announced this spring that she was laying off 12 faculty members and cutting the three programs to close the budget gap. She rescinded the layoffs after faculty protested, and said she would consider alternatives to closing the programs.

Meaghan LaSala, one of the student leaders of the protests this spring, said Kalikow’s plan was “unconscionable.”

“It’s an outrage and we’re not interested in playing nice any more,” LaSala said, noting that the student group ended its protests and marches while the administration and Faculty Senate were in talks.

The Faculty Senate had recommended more than $5 million in cuts in its proposal, but Kalikow said many of the suggested cuts wouldn’t take effect in time to save money in this budget. She said they would be considered for next year.

“I especially want to thank the Faculty Senate for their participation in this difficult process within a short period of time,” she said. “However, these reductions, for the most part, will not take full effect in FY 2015.”

USM Faculty Senate Chairman Jerry LaSala said he thought the announcement was “positive in the short term” but he had concerns about what the university faces next year.

Through the Faculty Senate’s plan, 11 professors retired and another five professors, all of whom had been laid off in Kalikow’s initial cuts, have agreed to leave. Those departures are part of $1.6 million in workforce cuts announced Friday, which also include not filling the position of a departing senior administrator – the executive director of professional and continuing education – and savings from replacing some positions with lower-paid staff and faculty.

Slightly less than $1 million in savings comes from not filling other vacant positions, deferring equipment purchases, cutting faculty research awards and cutting contracts to outside consultants. More detailed information on the cuts is at pressherald.com.

The trustees already approved USM’s budget last month. Kalikow has to report back to the trustees in July on her final cuts.

Although Kalikow said she planned to continue the process to eliminate the three academic programs, she said, when asked about the programs Friday, that she hadn’t made a final decision.

“Don’t put words in my mouth,” she said. “My intent is to continue the process. … We just need to keep looking at it.”

The final decision to close the programs is Kalikow’s, although she said she plans to consult with the faculty union and will ultimately need approval from the board of trustees.

“I am not making that decision today,” Kalikow added. “The faculty should be happy. I’m certainly happy.”

Faculty members in the affected programs, however, said they interpreted her letter as a decision to close the programs.

“I’m very surprised that a way wasn’t found to at least continue the degree program,” said American and New England Studies chairman Kent Ryden, who had proposed merging or folding the program into other departments to save it. “I don’t know how seriously anyone was even considering the possibility of our not being eliminated.”

“It is absolute nonsense,” said Barry Rodrigue, an associate professor with the Arts and Humanities program in Lewiston. “(The program) has had consistent growth, is bringing in almost a half-million dollars a year and we’ve won awards for our work. It makes absolutely no sense to shut down our program.”

If the programs are eliminated, seven faculty members will lose their jobs. No new students would be allowed to enroll, but students currently in the programs would be guaranteed the ability to get their degrees at USM, with the programs and faculty being phased out as demand decreases.

The cuts at USM are part of systemwide budget cuts to close a deficit of $36 million that officials say was caused by flat state funding, declining enrollment and tuition freezes. Each of the system’s seven campuses was asked to make deep cuts this year, and more cuts are expected next year.

The system’s trustees released a draft strategic plan on May 22 that lays out a five-year plan to close a projected $69 million systemwide budget deficit by 2019.