September 11, 2013

Maine university system paid former USM president $363,000 for report

The 39-page report addresses recruitment of foreign students, but the university system contracted with a company to draw students from overseas before the report was completed.

By Nell Gluckman / Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

(Continued from page 1)

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Selma Botman, a former president of the University of Southern Maine, was hired by the University of Maine System to produce a report about recruiting foreign students.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Five-year plan to recruit international students to UMS campuses

Page, the chancellor, said he wanted Botman to outline a plan before the system committed to any programs.

“We needed a strategy before we went out and spent a lot of money,” Page said. “We didn’t have a picture of how it would all work.”

“It was worth it, given that we had a contractual obligation” to Botman, said Gregory Johnson, a member of the board of trustees and chair of the academic and student affairs committee.

“I think it reaffirms, in some ways, the work we were already doing. And now that can be refined,” Johnson said.

“They needed something for her to do,” said Howard Segal, a history professor at the University of Maine in Orono. “My question would be, well, will that be used for future reference or will it just gather dust?”

In addition to the rationale for recruiting international students and the list of recruitment agencies, Botman’s report included a five-year business plan, a rationale for using recruiting agents, a discussion of the tuition international students would pay, examples of how the university might phrase promotional materials, a three-page list of international high schools and other data.

In the business plan, Botman estimated that implementing her strategy would cost the Maine system $287,500 per year. With her projected enrollment of 579 international students, at the end of five years the university system would see a $31 million increase in revenue.

“This would bring increased prominence to the state and much-needed resources to the university,” the report said.

Though she was given a $20,000 budget for out-of-state travel, Botman only used $1,236.41. She went to New York City to meet with administrators from the State University of New York, a leader in international student recruitment, and to the University of Northern Arizona in Phoenix to meet with their vice provost for international education.

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is a nonpartisan, non-profit news service based in Hallowell. It can be reached via email at mainecenter@gmail.com and can be found on the web at pinetreewatchdog.org.

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