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President Hunter discusses 2018 budget and partnership with UMaine Machias

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, UMaine President Susan J. Hunter, UMaine Provost Jeffrey E. Hecker and Chief Business Officer Claire Strickland gave a presentation regarding the UMaine Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Hunter also announced updates for a “new relationship” between the University of Maine Orono and the University of Maine Machias (UMM).

As of July 1, 2017, UMM has the potential to become a regional campus of UMaine and will continue to hold operational control of its fiscal year budget for 2018. The major goal of the partnership is to increase enrollment and financial stability at UMM, which has declined in recent years.

UMM will no longer have a campus president. An Executive Dean will play the role of campus leader, who will report to the President of UMaine, Susan Hunter. She will also appoint members of UMM’s Board of Visitors. UMaine’s Chief Student Affairs officer will be in charge of UMM’s Student Affairs administration.

“When all of this occurs, the University of Maine Machias will no longer be a separately accredited institution; it will be accredited under the University of Maine,” Hunter reported.

Curriculum and program alignment between UMM and UMaine will enable transferring between the two schools to become easier. This partnership will not affect the amount of Title IV student aid each student receives from the U.S. Department of Education.

On Jan. 24, 2017, Hunter, Hecker and Strickland met with the chancellor of the UMaine system’s executive group to present the UMaine Fiscal Year 2018 budget. UMaine faculty has been developing this budget plan since July 2016.

Finance, Facilities, Technology and the UMS board of trustees must now review the budget. The Board of Trustees will approve the budget in May, Hunter said.

The Budget includes cuts in several of UMaine’s colleges as well as an increase in enrollment, tuition costs and unified fees. The UMS system plans to raise in-state tuition by 2.6 percent. The NEBHE and Canadian tuition rate will rise from 155 to 160 percent of the in-state tuition. UMaine leadership expects tuition raises to earn the school about $3.2 million after accounting for unpaid accounts and state mandated waivers.

The number of students both applied and admitted to UMaine, is hundreds more than it was this time last year. UMaine expects 2,300 first-year students in the fall semester of 2017. Increased enrollment should earn UMaine $4.2 million after accounting for the costs of scholarships.

A 2.6 percent Unified Fee increase will provide $406,000 and state funding is estimated to provide $263,756. The Unified Fee funds services for students with fewer credit hours. These services would otherwise be available only to full-time students. The fewer credits a student takes, the higher the unified fee is.

The total gap between the expenses and the revenue is a deficit of $760,585. This is the smallest deficit UMaine will have had in at least five years. The 2016 budget had a deficit of $8,500,000 and 2015 had a deficit of $9,670,000.

The decrease in the gap relies mostly on tuition and enrollment revenue increases which are expected to cover $7,422,380 of the $8,852,721 in expected costs.

Cuts in several of UMaine’s colleges will make up the remaining $760,585 deficit.

The UMaine Fiscal Year 2018 budget will cut $194,847 from the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry & Agriculture; $214,999 from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; $145,046 from the College of Education & Human Development and $15,000 from Athletics.

The budget cuts $32,140 from the Division of Lifelong Learning; $165,146 from VP for Research and Dean of the Graduate School; $26,500 from Vice President for Student Affairs; $31,000 from the president and $49,725 from the Chief Business Officer.

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