The 21st-Century USM: From President Selma Botman
The University Council, which formerly consisted of senior academic and administrative leadership, has been expanded so that there are multiple and varied voices from across the university around the table. I am also asking the Council to provide oversight and advice as we implement the academic reorganization. At the first meeting of the newly expanded Council, I asked members to share with their respective constituents information on issues brought before the group as a way to ensure open communication and transparent decision making.
See the members of our University Council.
Brighter Outlook for Current State Appropriation
Earlier this year, Governor Baldacci asked the University of Maine System to prepare for an $8.3 million curtailment in the state appropriation. USM’s share of that totaled $750,000. Chancellor Pattenaude and members of his staff met recently with the Governor to make the case that UMS is an investment in the state’s future, not an expense. The Governor agreed and decided to eliminate the proposed University System curtailment. We had held back nearly $1 million in federal stimulus funds at USM to cushion the blow of any budget reductions. We will continue to reserve these funds through the fall in the event that the budget situation changes, but the Governor’s decision is very good news indeed.
Investments in Addressing Deferred Maintenance
USM, like every institution in the System, has a huge backlog of deferred maintenance projects. We are making progress toward achieving the Strategic Plan goal of deploying our physical plant in support of the university’s mission. Put another way, our students, faculty and staff deserve to work and study in the best environment we can provide. More than 50 capital improvement projects were completed over the summer. For the first time, we have data projectors in all teaching spaces on all three campuses. Our University Library in Bailey Hall has a new common area. There have been significant improvements to the Department of Art in Gorham, the Student Success Center and related areas in Payson Smith Hall and in the School of Law. The American Sign Language Lab and the Media Studies Lab have moved from 68 High Street to Exeter Street and to the former Portland Child Care Center, respectively. Our residence halls have more efficient heating and hot water systems, plus we completed a historic restoration of the Robie Andrews roof. Many people in several departments deserve our thanks, but I want to especially thank Executive Director of Facilities Management Bob Bertram and his staff.
Trustees Approve New Deans
At their meeting held earlier this month, the Board of Trustees formally approved the appointments of Andy Anderson as dean of the College of Engineering, Health Professions, Nursing, Science & Technology; Lynn Kuzma as dean of the College Communication, Culture & the Arts; and Jim Shaffer as dean of the College of Public Service, Business, Graduate Education & Social Work. Andy and Lynn have been appointed to two-year terms at the end of which we will conduct national searches for those positions. Jim’s appointment is for one year, so we are initiating a national search this fall. All three deans will be invited to apply for the respective positions. Interim Provost John Wright announced the deans selections last month, but I want to join him in thanking Andy, Lynn and Jim for accepting these appointments as founding deans of our three new colleges. We will be involved in complex discussions over the coming semesters as we move toward implementation, and I am confident that as a community we will do so in an open, collaborative and respectful manner.
Educating a Skilled Nursing Workforce for the 21st Century
Trustees also gave USM approval for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. A DNP will be the required credential for all advanced practice nurses by 2015, according to a policy approved by The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Those holding this graduate degree will be well qualified to respond to the pressing need for specialized nurse professionals and to alleviate the shortage of nursing educators.
Greenleaf Appointed as COO
I am pleased to report that Trustees approved the appointment of Katherine M. Greenleaf as USM’s chief operating officer (COO). This is a one-year fixed length position. Katherine replaces Jim Shaffer who accepted the position of founding dean of our new College of Public Policy, Business, Graduate Education and Social Work. Katherine’s appointment will begin in early October and will run through June 30, 2011. Our chief operating officer provides coordination and oversight of our administrative, business and service operations and ensures that these functions are integrated into and complementary to the university’s strategic plan. Positions reporting directly to the COO include the chief financial officer; the chief information officer; the chief student affairs officer; and the chief student success officer. This position has proven to be invaluable to the running of the university, and Katherine, with an extensive background in operations, finance and human resources, is especially qualified to fulfill this role over the upcoming academic year. She has senior-level managerial experience with Wright Express, Hannaford Bros. Co., and the former Union Mutual Life Insurance Company, now Unum. Most recently, she operated Greenleaf Consulting Group, a firm that focuses on helping clients here and abroad develop business strategies, including management of cultural issues associated with growth and change. She earned a B.A. with Honors in Asian Studies from Connecticut College and a J.D. from Boston University Law School. Please join me in welcoming her to our campus community.
Pioneers Program Established Thanks to System Support
We are establishing the state’s first honors program in engineering and the sciences. The program – to be known as Pioneers – will educate our best and brightest science and engineering students. Attracting students to these fields has become an increasingly important public policy at a time when the number of students in these disciplines is decreasing, yet the demand for scientists and engineers is expected to increase in the next decade at more than double the rate of all other occupations.
The Pioneers Program is made possible thanks to a preliminary $158,000 grant from the University of Maine System’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The fund was established to support new curricular developments that “align academic programs with Maine’s changing economy.” We also will be applying for additional SIF grants and seeking scholarships to support the development of the program.
The goal is to recruit six to eight students for the fall of 2011 and then to enroll 10 or more students annually. Michael Wing of Gorham, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Technology who has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing, operations and business management at small and multi-national companies, will direct the program.
I will keep you updated on program developments.