I am the mother of a University of Maine System college student who just completed his freshman year.

Our family believes strongly in the power and the promise of public education. Both my children received excellent education in the Scarborough public school system, and we were proud and excited to choose UMS for our oldest son’s college. We felt that our Maine state education was the right choice and we believed that the University of Maine System cared about our children and their education. UMS administration has shown me that I was mistaken.

My son chose University of Maine Farmington because of its strengths in the liberal arts; in fact, he transferred from USM to UMF because he wanted a creative writing major and more opportunities to study world languages. Now, as he heads into his sophomore year at UMF, the programs and courses that were advertised to him are being cut with no alternative except for him to take online classes at another school or to drive to another university. Who thinks that this is a feasible or reasonable option for a full time residential student who is trying to be engaged in college life? This cannot be the University system’s answer for a robust and full liberal arts education opportunity.

As faculty are being laid off, UMF has no plans in place to continue to serve its existing students with the quality education for which UMF used to be known. My son had built his educational plan around requirements and promises that seemed to vanish without discussion. We now have very little information with which to move forward with his college plans, and we wonder what else might change to unbalance his and his peers’ plans. We wonder what else the Chancellor and Board of Trustees might decide to sacrifice. We wonder why, with three votes of no confidence, the Chancellor is still at the helm, steering the ship towards the rocks.

Faculty and students at UMF are being punished for the mismanagement of the school by its president and the chancellor, as well as the University of Maine System as a whole. A university does not get to the point that it fires multiple tenured faculty overnight: it clearly took years of mismanagement to get to here, and therefore those managers–the president and the chancellor, not to mention the Board of Trustees–should be the ones who lose out, not the students and their professors. To add insult to injury at UMF, the new president recently announced is the same person who laid off faculty and ruined university morale at USM eight years ago: this is not the right leader for UMF. It has taken years to recover from that massive mistake at USM; there is time now to prevent the same gutting of programs at Farmington.

I have been hoping that both of my children would find their educational paths within the University of Maine system. I had hoped that my younger son would follow in his brother’s footsteps and attend a UMS school. At this point, I don’t think I can recommend that course to him. I don’t believe in the leaders who are making decisions that undermine the ability for our colleges to provide a solid liberal arts education. I can’t trust my sons to the UMS system unless there is a transparent process to renew Maine’s promise to its students and its taxpayers, recall the chancellor, reconsider the new UMF and UMA presidents, and reinstate the faculty and programs that were the foundation of the liberal arts promise.

— Special to the Press Herald

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