PORTLAND — A no-confidence vote on University of Southern Maine President Selma Botman has failed, falling short of the two-thirds majority the proposal needed in voting by the university’s faculty.

According to the university’s public affairs office, 194 faculty members voted to express no confidence in Botman and 88 opposed the motion.

A total of 377 full-time faculty members on USM’s three campuses were eligible to vote, so at least 251 votes were needed for the no-confidence resolution to pass.

A team of two faculty members and two USM administrators finished counting the ballots Wednesday night at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Botman said, “The no-confidence vote failed. To pass, it required that two-thirds of the faculty or 251 members vote in favor. The final tally, 194 for no confidence, 88 against, was short of this.”

The two-day referendum, which began Tuesday, started with a petition circulated by USM’s Faculty Senate.

Senate leaders said the no-confidence vote was an expression of discontent over what some faculty members perceived as a lack of leadership and direction. The petition started around the time Botman made an unpopular decision to grant pay raises to 44 salaried employees.

University of Maine System Chancellor James Page suspended those raises, which ranged from 4 percent to 41 percent.

Botman said it will be business as usual at USM today. She plans to meet with a couple of potential donors.

She said Wednesday night that she harbors no ill will toward faculty members.

“Dissent and discussion are honored traditions in education. It means that fair-minded people can disagree,” Botman said. “In a university environment, we debate the issues and we can disagree, but in the end we have to work together.”

Ron Schmidt, an associate professor of political science, serves on the Executive Committee of USM’s Faculty Senate, which organized the referendum. He said the vote would have been non-binding, even if an overwhelming number of faculty members had voted no confidence in Botman.

At some point the results of the referendum will be presented to the chancellor and USM’s trustees. They are the authorities with the power to terminate Botman’s contract, said Schmidt.

“When you look at the numbers, over half the faculty voted no confidence. Figuring out what that means is going to take some work,” Schmidt said. “The one thing we can take away from this is that people disagree over the direction that the university is heading in.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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