May 12, 2012

Chancellor takes pulse at USM meetings

James Page says that, amid a variety of opinions, he hears much concern over how the university will evolve.

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - University of Maine System Chancellor James Page met with more than a dozen groups and individuals at the University of Southern Maine during a two-day visit that concluded Friday.

Page scheduled the visit after a majority of USM faculty members who cast ballots on May 2 supported a resolution expressing no confidence in President Selma Botman.

Leadership, hiring and spending practices at USM and across the university system have come under scrutiny since Page became chancellor in March.

The chancellor, accompanied by a consultant, held an open forum on Thursday morning, then met with various student, faculty, administration and staff representatives.

Page said he heard a wide variety of opinions on what's working at USM and what's not.

"The overwhelming sense was that there is a high level of engagement at USM and a real concern for how the university is going to evolve," Page said Friday night.

One thing Page plans to promote at USM is better communication among various groups. "We have to make sure we have good communication going between all parties," he said.

Page said he's also concerned that USM -- and the university system in general -- isn't hiring enough tenure-track professors. It's a national issue, he said, because fewer faculty members are retiring and those who do leave aren't being replaced because of budget cuts.

"To build and sustain academic programs, you always need to be reinvigorating your faculty," he said.

Page said he plans to look further into issues raised during his visit this week and stay engaged to make sure solutions are identified and problems are resolved.

The faculty's no-confidence vote on Botman was 194 to 88, but it failed because it needed the support of at least two-thirds of the entire faculty.

USM has 377 full-time faculty on three campuses, so the resolution needed at least 251 votes to pass.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

 

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