President Botman says USM Must Rise to the Challenge Before Us

“The possibility of remaking a university comes along, perhaps, once in three generations,” USM President Selma Botman told faculty and staff at the Opening Breakfast held Friday, August 28 in Gorham to kick off the 2009-2010 academic year. “And this possibility is here, now, right before us,” Botman said.

More than 500 faculty and staff attended the annual Opening Breakfast that kicks off the new academic year.

More than 600 faculty and staff attended the annual Opening Breakfast that kicks off the new academic year.

Given USM’s continuing challenge of decreasing revenues and steadily rising expenses, Botman outlined a process to restructure USM so that it continues to deliver a quality education, becomes sustainable and helps create Maine’s future. USM must, she said, “embrace the need to restructure in order to revitalize our academic enterprise.”

Botman said we will build a university of “greater distinction” by “using the eight goals in our strategic plan as guideposts, and the System reports and the Task Force’s white paper to inform our deliberations.”

Last semester, Botman appointed a task force of deans and an associate vice president for academic affairs, and asked that they develop “a series of scenarios—again, scenarios, not recommendations or proposals—that could help us imagine USM in a variety of ways.”  The white paper, said Botman, is a “conversation starter,” not a formal reorganization plan.

This fall, USM will consider ideas, both those in the white paper and other ideas that will emerge, “weighing their possibilities as well as their drawbacks.” Botman noted that it is not her report and consequently does not reflect her thinking. “Just as I have, you too will find aspects of the white paper that you like as well as aspects that you find objectionable.” She added, however, that the white paper does provide “a springboard to real, substantive conversations about our future.”

Botman asked faculty and staff to “join me in rolling up our sleeves for the hard, but potentially exhilarating work ahead. It is time to think broadly about our identity, about what kind of university we want to be, about what our State deserves, and about what our students depend on us to deliver.”

This fall, the president will meet with all the Senates and union representatives. There will be town meetings on all campuses and an all-faculty meeting. Faculty also will be encouraged to meet in broad disciplinary groups. There also will be opportunities for a variety of staff meetings.

After taking input from people on and off campus, she will make final decisions this winter.

Botman’s speech and the Task Force’s white paper are available at
www.usm.maine.edu/pres/publications.

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