On Wednesday, Oct. 25, an open meeting for the Maine Business School (MBS) Reorganization Proposal was held in Jenness Hall. MBS faculty were in attendance as well as UMaine Provost Jeff Hecker.
The reorganization proposal offers that the undergraduate and graduate schools would be split up and that each school would have its own dean. On top of this, there would now be a location for each school: undergraduate located online and on the Orono campus, and the graduate school located on the Orono and Portland campuses and online.
The goal of this proposal is to build the MBS faculty and “bring more minds to the table,” according to Hecker, as well as collaborate with the Law School and Muskie School in Portland. Ultimately, it was argued that this could put UMaine in a position of leadership with the respect to graduate education within the University of Maine System.
The problem with this, however, is that the MBS faculty is in almost complete opposition to the proposal. This would cause a loss of faculty as the proposal would force a few to make the move to the Portland campus and threaten higher education.
Richard Borgman, a finance professor at the university, presented his concerns with the proposal by listing off the facts. The document, which is referred to as the MOU, was signed in January, heard in February and shown to faculty at the end of April. Approval for the document was requested in February, but was not given as faculty had not seen the document.
Throughout the spring and summer, meetings were held with extraordinary participation from the faculty. Their concerns were focused around the limitations put in place on faculty control of the curriculum and tenure process and the potential “Gutting of the Undergraduate Program” by having a faculty transfer.
Currently in the MBS, the faculty teach both undergraduate and graduate level courses. The program is “bursting at the seams,” according to Borgman. “I had 95 students in an upper-level finance class last year.”
Nory Jones, a MIS professor, expressed her concerns. Jones has worked for the university since 2001, and has “lived through the trenches of the MBA program,” as she explained. “I feel like what the foundation is trying to do is fatally flawed,” she began. “Employees want a solid core education/foundation of knowledge. We already have a residential program, and we already have a presence in Portland.”
Hecker spoke in between each faculty member, ensuring that their concerns were being heard and that he is doing his absolute best to push back and amend this document to meet the requests of the department.
The last faculty member to speak was Martha Broderick, who is a senior lecturer of business and commercial law. Her main concerns with this proposal were that she felt as though the faculty were under attack and did not like the way it was created.
“You have just heard from the most respected members of our faculty. These people have put in decades to make our school as strong as it is and to deliver services to the state of Maine,” she began. “We do like and want to work with all parts of the state. We do and have worked with USM, we have worked with Machias. We are not isolated. The current MBA that we have is really good. It’s accredited, it’s nationally recognized. It receives awards all the time. Our graduates from the program lead business all around the country and all around the world. We have a program that works, what my concern is is more hidden. The proposal is insulting.”
Hecker will be reporting this information up and the hopes are that this MOU document will offer room for changes to meet the needs of the MBS staff.