“Mission-differentiated campuses” the next step for the University of Maine System

Schools in the University of Maine System will soon have their own specific programs that make the institutions stand out amongst them.

The system’s seven universities — University of Maine in Orono, Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, Presque Isle and Southern Maine locations — will lead programs that make each school unique. This is also to reduce the friction between all of the schools, and to eliminate unnecessary staff in the UMaine System.

If no plan were to be introduced and implemented, UMaine System products would have a $90 million deficit by 2020.

A motto for the UMaine system, “One University for all of Maine,” will be taken into effect in this new plan creating “mission-differentiated campuses.”

The System’s Chancellor, James Page, at a UMaine board meeting in January, said “[We] believe that we are way too administratively top heavy. We cannot afford the overhead of seven campuses plus the system office.”

A few schools know what they will place as their primary focus. The University of Maine at Machias will spotlight marine sciences, Farmington will target grooming future educators and Orono will continue to establish its land grant and research-based focus. As Orono has invested millions of dollars in its engineering facilities, it is determined that it will be the center of engineering in Maine.

Each school will not just focus on the one program they choose, but they will in fact be in charge of that specific program in order to better develop it in the state.

The plan is going to include organizing a human resources group, bringing most UMaine System staff onto the Orono or Augusta campus. This is to eliminate any barriers between the schools, so staff from all of them can work together to achieve similar goals.

According to Page, it’s most likely that staff will be moved to the Orono campus.

“To be sure, an enormous amount of what happens administratively will take place in Orono,” Page told Bangor Daily News.

The plan will also be able to figure out how programs are offered throughout the UMaine System, making sure that one school’s specific focus isn’t replicated somewhere else.

With engineering as the primary focus at UMaine in Orono, other programs like nursing and computer science have potential to be restructured within various schools. The mathematics and english programs will not be changed throughout the entire UMaine System.

The University of Maine’s president, Susan Hunter, believes this plan will be very efficient in improving the structure of programs in the state of Maine, which will help increase student enrollment.

“Being worse at things and being smaller is not what we’re after,” Hunter said.

The plan does have a minor drawback to it, as it is not clear which programs will be focused at certain institutions, and it’s up in the air to how many jobs will be lost in the changes.

“We’re reducing barriers that have really stifled innovation and cooperation,” Page said.

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