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UMaine board of trustees releases draft of strategic outlook plan

The University of Maine System board of trustees recently released what it is calling a “Declaration of Strategic Priorities to Address Critical State Needs,” a report which updates a 2016 mission statement and outline of strategic goals released by the board.

The board prefaced the report by noting that trends in Maine’s demographics and workforce composition require a “renewed focus and amplification of the 2016 Outcomes,” according to the Nov. 19 release.

These desired outcomes are to increase enrollment at University of Maine System universities, improve “student success” and retention rates, “enhance UMS fiscal positioning” and “support Maine through research and economic development,” according to the report.

The plan puts forth action items for campuses around the state to reach these goals to the end of increasing educational opportunities and degree attainment among the Maine population.

For example, the plan notes that Chancellor James Page will propose a funding blueprint by March 2019 on how to expand opportunities for high school students to take college classes and participate in “early college” programs.

On the matter of “Increasing Maine Educational Attainment” — one of the measures that could have impacts on students at UMaine — the report emphasizes that in order to remain leaders among research universities nationwide offering affordable tuition, University of Maine System institutions should continue to keep the prices of attending college affordable.

By May 2018, a coalition including the University of Maine System chancellor and representatives from each campus will work with state policy makers to establish strategies to “increase access and affordability and further reduce student debt associated with [degree] attainment,” according to the report.

Since 2012, the report notes, the board had undergone many changes in its business model aimed at helping the organization become more “efficient, affordable, and responsive” in order to address Maine’s growing demographic and workforce challenges.

The University of Maine System includes seven universities from around the state: UMaine, University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Farmington, University of Maine at Machias, University of Maine at Presque Isle and the University of Southern Maine.

The pursuit of new strategic aims coincides with efforts at UMaine to define a new individual strategic vision that integrates into the statewide effort. This semester, President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Provost Jeffrey Hecker are hosting a series of forums to obtain student, faculty and community insight on the process.

Comments and discussions from the engagement process will be presented to the board in May 2019.

The board is a group of 16 members that oversees the University of Maine System’s “academic programs, faculty tenure, tuition rates and operating budgets,” according to the board’s website. 15 members of the board are chosen and verified by the governor and state legislature.

The board also allows one student representative from each of the seven University of Maine System institutions to sit on meetings as a non-voting member.

To get involved in the process of discussing UMaine’s future strategic goals, students can attend forums being held in Wells Conference Center this semester on Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 10. All events are free and open to the public.

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