Tuesday afternoon, University of Maine President Susan Hunter and Chancellor James Page held a “One University Discussion” to go over more details and inform the public of the One University plan announced last January.
“From my perspective, and I’m sure from the Chancellor’s, it is very important to engage the campus on the initiative now and going forward,” Hunter said.
The plan is a multi-faceted effort to cut down the UMaine system deficit by the year 2020. A large part of this plan is to create “mission-differentiated campuses” to cut down on system-wide overlap and save money going forward.
Hunter went on to stress the idea of One University as a set of guidelines for discussion and progress as a system, providing groundwork for debate and development.
“The end state is envisioned as being a fully-integrated university with mission-differentiated campus,” Hunter said. “Campus differentiation is one aspect of this…but at the same time an integrated administrative structure.”
The importance of UMaine’s flagship university as a leader in change and discussion was highlighted by Hunter, as well as the opportunities that it offers as Maine’s sole land grant university.
“We do what we do very well, but what we now do we can actually do better,” Hunter said. “And we can do it better by being more formal and being more mindful about how we partner across the state. That will bring us to more people and bring more people in contact with us.”
Page echoed many of Hunter’s sentiments on the plan and their vision for the system going forward. He also introduced his one-sentence view for One University.
“In principle, all of our resources, wherever they may be throughout our system, can be brought to bear in coordinated support of every Maine student, business, and community,” Page said.
Page addressed concerns over the clarity and direction of One University, which has been a point of concern for students and faculty. He stressed the importance of the system-wide cooperation that went into developing the plan.
“These are not decisions that I make in a vacuum,” he said. “Those are decisions that are made by the campuses, by the deans, by the presidents and by others.”
The budget was one of the main focuses of Page’s speech, as he discussed the finer points of how they were going to ensure responsible spending and foster communication between the campuses on the topic.
“What we are looking for is a process by which the budgets are assembled on the campuses earlier and brought to the common table at a much earlier time, so that we can look across and see what are the challenges, what are the opportunities, how do we work together and how do we allocate resources,” he said.
In this plan, the budget would then be sent back to the campus with “some restrictions” for the campus to put to use.
A short question and answer section in which attendees were given the opportunity to raise concerns and ask questions about the plan followed Page’s portion of the discussion. The afternoon concluded with a group work portion, at which point most guests left.