I am a retired faculty member, researcher and program administrator from another state university system, now living in Maine. My grandson is a freshman honors student in computer science at the University of Southern Maine.

I have been watching, with increasing horror, as an educational gem and regional asset has its programs and reputation butchered.

The computer science majors recently received notice that due to one faculty retirement and two layoffs, the number of faculty members in the program has been cut in half. Because of the reduction in faculty, course offerings are expected to become more limited, and accreditation is being threatened.

Regional leaders want strong post-secondary educational resources to train and keep in Maine people with strong scientific, mathematical and technical abilities. Cuts to computer science faculty and putting the program in danger of losing accreditation go against the goals of the state and the region.

One of the computer science people who was released has brought to the university $400,000 in grant money – far more than the state is paying for her salary. The computer science program produces students who win national honors and present papers at professional conferences. Do the administrators really want to dismantle programs like this?

Replacing university faculty is not like getting substitute teachers when a high school teacher is on sick leave. The courses and the training required to teach them and the training and experience necessary to conduct research are very specialized. Granting agencies will not want to grant money to universities that have breached their trust by weakening or canceling funded programs.

The layoffs and program cuts need to be re-evaluated and reversed before it is too late. They destroy educational opportunities, and they threaten the economic future of the state.

Joy Haralick

Westbrook