Press "Enter" to skip to content

UMSG hears financial and structural updates from CFO Kelly Sparks

At the General Student Senate (GSS) meeting on Feb. 27, Chief Financial Officer Kelly Sparks clarified dining initiatives. GSS also discussed progress on establishing a University of Maine Student Government YouTube account and the order of names on the vice presidential ballot. 

Club Maintenance:

The University of Maine Golf Club was granted final recognition. The organization may submit funding requests for equipment in the future.

Guest Speaker: 

CFO and Vice President for Finance Kelly Sparks is a UMaine and a UMaine System (UMS) employee overseeing the budgeting function. She supports the facilities operations team and auxiliary units, which include housing, dining, childcare, student services and events/hospitality. 

As of now, the university is about halfway through Fiscal Year 24 (FY24). Sparks is preparing to submit a budget for fiscal year 25 with an initial presentation to the Board of Trustees on March 20. The meeting is open, both in-person and live-streamed on YouTube.

“Colleges and universities across the country are experiencing difficult budget situations right now… We have a smaller population set. That is specifically aggravated here in New England and in Maine,” said Sparks. “We will see over the next 10 years, probably about 1,500 fewer high school graduating seniors than we see today.” 

In FY24, a budget gap of $28.5 million more was being spent over the funds gained in state appropriations, tuition revenue, and indirect cost return. A three-year balancing plan to strategically grow enrollment while introducing new programs and services was recently approved by the BoT. 

The two proposals for balancing the budget are to allocate $9.5 million into growth investments and approximately $10 million in strategic reductions. A high-level summary will also be shared at the March 20 BoT meeting. 

Sparks also addressed student concerns about the quality of Sodexo dining services and specified that the partnership agreement was a university decision under the UMS contract. 

“There is an open survey right now to provide feedback. We are not waiting for all the responses to come in, we’re making changes on a daily basis at Hilltop in particular right now,” said Sparks. “We are also evaluating the dining program into fiscal year 25, both the all-you-can-eat as well as meal plan access for students.”

Sparks will dine at Hilltop every two weeks at random intervals to personally evaluate whether or not it is meeting expectations. 

In terms of housing options for next year, a three-part evaluation is being launched. Every building on campus will be given a physical review to assess the state and cost of repairs. UMaine is looking into remodeling options to implement more single-use bathrooms and accessible access to accommodate all residents.

The annual housing improvements may include tearing down buildings. An architect will create a pilot design for Hancock Hall revisions. From a sustainability perspective, UMaine intends to remove 89,000 square feet of space on campus to reduce energy consumption and decrease its carbon footprint. If followed through, $700,000 per year will be taken off the energy bill budget.

Four students will serve on the budget committee, which launches on Feb. 29. There will be undergraduate graduate representatives as well as a student-athlete and Machias leadership individual appointed. 

A third party will individually access facilities, specifically concerning the presence of cockroaches in older buildings, indoor repair and outdoor space improvements. 

Executive Reports:

Student Body President Michael Delorge praised the student and alumni engagement at the International Dance Festival held over the weekend. He is in the process of negotiating the new esports contract and replacing damaged items in the space. 

Delorge announced that a Western Winter Carnival will occur from 5 to 9 p.m. at Fogler Library. There will be a mechanical bull, a mocktail saloon, a casino with prizes, contradance with a live band and baby cow petting.  

“As president of student government, I am an on-voting member of the Alumni Association Board. They have their quarterly board meeting this Friday on campus in person. I will be going to give some updates about what our organization is up to and what undergrad student life is like on campus,” said Delorge. “In the morning, we are also getting a tour of Hotel Ursa.”

Student Body Vice President Keegan Tripp shared that a YouTube account was set up by Director of Communications Hope Carroll to begin uploading weekly GSS meetings. A survey regarding storage was sent to outdoor clubs, and its deadline is March 3. 

Vice President of Financial Affairs Paige Allen met with the cheer team and Tyson McHatten, senior associate director of athletics, on Feb. 23. She expressed the UMSG perspective regarding the lack of support cheerleading has received from Athletics. McHatten was responsive and agreed to go back to the department for fact-finding. Another meeting will be held after spring break.

Allen and Olivia Britton, BoT student representative, are setting up a standing meeting with Kelly Sparks to provide student feedback on a bi-weekly basis and communicate financial information to GSS. The UMSG starting projected and unallocated budget is currently $100,305.71.  

Orono Town City Council Liaison Darrin Martone was appointed to sit on the town manager search advisory committee.

New Business:

The Black Bear Beekeepers requested a sum of $1739.99. $645 for bees, $495 for oxalic acid vaporizer, $299 for observation hives and $300 for vaporizer batteries to be used throughout the spring 2024 semester. The organization, open to all students, educates members on how to keep and care for bees safely. Due to their efforts, UMaine is nationally accredited as a Bee Campus. The funds were granted. 

Services Committee Chairman Beau Michaud proposed an act to revise the UMSG hiring processes. The alterations would allow senators to participate in hiring committees and grant them priority for one seat on a committee. The senate would also be provided with applicant cover letters and resumes. The Resolution did not pass because it did not receive a two-thirds majority, which is required for any changes to the hiring policies. It may be reconsidered at a future meeting.

Fair Elections Practices Commission order of vice presidential candidates on the election ballot: Senator Kyle Ricker’s name was randomly selected to be put first and Policy and Procedure Committee Chairman Memphis Peterson’s will be second.

Get the Maine Campus' weekly highlights right to your inbox!
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Secure and Spam free...