Three academic programs slated to be cut from the University of Southern Maine in a cost-cutting move should instead be either combined with other departments or reconfigured to maximize their revenue potential, according to a brief analysis approved Friday by the Faculty Senate.

USM President Theodora Kalikow proposed cutting Geosciences, the American and New England Studies graduate program and the Arts and Humanities program at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn campus earlier this year as part of an effort to close a $14 million gap in the university’s $140 million budget for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Those cuts, combined with the layoffs of up to 50 staff and faculty members, prompted a huge outcry and student protests. Kalikow later rescinded the layoffs of 12 faculty members, but told the Faculty Senate that they would have to propose alternate cuts equal to the amount that her original plan would have saved.

That’s left the Faculty Senate with two parallel mandates: Find about $1 million in alternative savings to preserve the three threatened programs, and find another $1.3 million to offset the dozen faculty layoffs.

The dozen faculty members are safe from layoffs until at least October. But if the three academic programs are cut, seven faculty members in those programs would be laid off, officials said.

The 9-page report from the Faculty Senate’s Academic Program Review committee does not make specific recommendations to Kalikow, but asks that the administration immediately adopt multiple suggested “opportunities for leadership” for each program.

Mostly the suggestions involve assigning faculty to more than one program, combining each of the targeted programs with another program or department, creating new minors or majors, or high-demand certificates, loosening caps on class enrollment or opening program resources to non-USM students to increase revenue.

Committee Chairwoman Jeannine Uzzi said many of the recommendations had been made in past academic reviews, but not acted on.

“In every case, the programs came to us with years of reviews, recommending all sorts of amazing, dynamic initiatives – many of which would have cost very little – that haven’t been explored,” Uzzi said. She and others noted that there has been high turnover of campus leadership in recent years.

“Part of the reason these programs are on the table now is that they have not received that sort of leadership,” said Uzzi, a classics professor.

Kalikow has grappled with financial crises since being appointed president two years ago on a temporary basis. USM President Selma Botman resigned in the wake of a no-confidence vote by the faculty and controversy over big raises she gave to top administrators despite funding and program cuts.

Uzzi noted that the committee struggled with certain data, and how the data was used to conclude that these particular programs should be eliminated.

“We do not say, this program should be suspended, maintained, invested in, eliminated,” she said. “Instead of going that far, we suggest to the provost and president avenues that leadership can take.”

Recommendations include:

Geosciences: Merge the department with Geography, Anthropology and Environmental Science and Policy, and possibly bring in Physics. Offer use of latest digital mapping equipment to non-USM students, with potential to increase revenue by attracting those students.

American and New England Studies: Have the program join with one or more academic units; have its faculty members assigned to an additional program; create a new undergraduate degree in American Studies and consider a system-wide graduate certificate in New England Public Culture.

Arts and Humanities at Lewiston-Auburn College: Coordinate and collaborate with USM’s Liberal Studies Humanities Program, and Communications and Media Studies, and Women and Gender Studies. Create a new undergraduate minor or certificate in Historical Archeology, which is required for many state and federal construction projects. Revive the masters in Historic Archeology. Create a Global Studies major. Develop partnerships with local cultural institutions to create a museum/archives studies program.

“Let’s do it,” Geosciences Department Chairman Steve Pollock said of the potential merger of the department. “It needs to happen.”

Pollock also noted that several faculty in the department are on the verge of retirement, which will lower costs.

Kalikow told the Faculty Senate she would look through the recommendations and make a decision in the upcoming weeks.

“I need to go through this and work it out and see what the actual results are before I can comment any further,” she said. “There’s a lot in that document to read and digest.”

Kalikow has proposed about $7 million in cuts and Page plans to provide about $7 million in one-time funds from the system’s emergency reserve account to close the $14 million gap.

USM has already booked about $4.5 million in savings as a result of 26 staff layoffs since July 2013, and by not filling vacant positions and flat-funding deferred maintenance costs.

Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

This story was updated at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, to correct the reason for Selma Botman’s departure as USM president.

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