Press "Enter" to skip to content

Provost Volin and CFO Sparks provide administrative updates

The University of Maine Student Government (UMSG) met on April 9, welcoming Chief Financial Officer Kelly Sparks and Provost John Volin to discuss system-wide changes that begin in fall 2024. The UMSG also discussed receiving student feedback from the spring survey, Maine Day of Service initiatives and funding allocations to five organizations.

Guest Speakers: 

Provost John Volin is nearing his fourth year as the executive vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at UMaine. He oversees enrollment management, financial aid, the Office of Student Records and the Center for Innovation Teaching and Learning. 

UMaine is a member of the Coalition for Transformational Education, which includes about 20 universities/colleges. Its mission is to bring best practices in areas students can succeed in and create a transformational higher education experience, thus encouraging degree completion. 

The UMaine System (UMS) implemented Pathways to Careers this semester, providing over 50 students with supplemental funding. There is another opportunity to apply for the program over the summer and fall.

CFO Kelly Sparks addressed the senate to discuss budget, tuition and fees in the interest of administrative transparency. The UMS anticipates a 3% cost increase across the board for undergraduate and graduate students on and off campus. 

Students taking a business course who are not majoring in business will pay the same rate as students who are. The cost of delivery for business and engineering is higher due to an increase in the cost of attendance. Technology is also increased to include an infrastructure fee. 

Sparks explained some specific investments in student-facing spaces. Next year, Bennett Hall will undergo a replacement of the HVAC heating and cooling systems. According to Sparks, it is the most highly-utilized space on campus.

There is a change in the cost of delivery for the Maine Business Association program in an effort to break even with the budget. Sparks will host a budget deep-dive on April 25 at 3:30 p.m. to focus on student concerns about specific allocations. UMS is planning for Fiscal Year 26, which begins in the fall 2025.

Academic Affairs Representative Meredyth Waters asked about the new online course fees in consideration of classes that are required for degree programs but only offered online. Sparks explained that it costs more to deliver a program online. 

Undergraduate engineering or business students should anticipate differential fees. Merit scholarships will align with the increased tuition if tuition is fully covered. The amount of funding granted is based on the profile of AP credits, test scores and other materials. 

Sparks also described plans to either tear down, renovate or build new structures on campus. The UMS is gauging student interest in both multi-living apartments and single housing. The first round of renovations will establish single-use bathrooms in Hancock, stalls to the floor and communal dormitory kitchens. A 10-year financial plan will essentially determine how much the UMS can afford to invest in housing and where other interests lie.

“Over the course of the summer, with a working group, we’ll be pulling that information together and start to make recommendations,” Sparks said. “The key outcomes from that will be a revised housing master plan for the campus.”

Executive Reports:

Student Body President Michael Delorge announced that he and Vice President Keegan Tripp are revising the spring survey to launch on April 14 in hopes of receiving student feedback regarding UMSG initiatives and events. 

He also shared that the Collins Center for the Arts welcomed at least 935 students to the Joe Gatto comedy show on April 5. It was the largest and best-attended UMSG event in two years. 

Delorge plans to schedule meetings with Hotel Ursa Management regarding approaches to include the student body. Some examples are hotel giveaways, design competitions, scholarships and discounted rooms. 

Keegan Tripp is spearheading the spring survey by separating it into categories and encouraging senators to draft questions that pertain to their section. Tripp and Advisor Lauri Sidelko scheduled a club storage meeting for April 11. 

Tripp also joined the steering committee for residential housing to provide executives with direction and feedback. Five Zoom meetings will be held over the summer. 

Paige Allen, vice president for financial affairs, shared that the executive budgetary committee received 16 funding requests on April 9. There are two more opportunities for clubs to submit requests for spring semester funding.

Allen and the Board of Trustees (BoT) Representative Olivia Britton met with Sparks to potentially facilitate a roundtable classroom-style discussion for students to ask about both the UMS budget and the UMSG budget, which stands at $130,315.37.

According to the Vice President for Student Organizations Julian Ober, UMSG may change the  requirement for club preliminary recognition to five members. A group would still need 10 members before seeking final recognition. 

Periodic Reports:

Britton attended the BoT meeting held in Augusta on April 9. Several students from Orono spoke during public commentary. She shared that Tyler Technologies is in collaboration with UMaine as part of the Pathways to Careers initiative. Middle and high school students in Maine can visit the campus to learn about STEM programs and research. 

Waters is working on a presentation about library policies and student fees. She also conveyed support for online major or minor changes with the Associate Provost. Waters emphasized that the degree progress reports are inaccurate and hopes to set up a meeting with the person in charge of updating course requirements on MaineStreet. 

Nate Feng, food and dining affairs committee chairman, mentioned that Hilltop Dining is implementing a YouCook station, similar to the one at York Dining. It will take the place of Hilltop Market since Wells is reopening with a similar store. 

Amanda Levesque announced that a total of $19,000 was raised for the Maine Day Meal Pack Out on April 23. The funds cover 56,000 meals, which will be distributed to 20 food banks across Maine.

New Business:

An act to allocate $3,990 to the Fastpitch Softball Club for their New England Regionals in Glens Falls, NY from April 27 to 28 was passed. Of that total, $3,360 is for lodging and $630 is for van rentals.

A second act to allocate $5,840 to the Fastpitch Softball Club for their World Series Tournament in Columbus, GA from May 16 to 19 was passed. Of that total, $2,750 is for airfare, $2250 is for lodging and $840 is for van rentals. 

An act to allocate $15,000 to Student Entertainment for their Maine Day of Service Event on April 24 along the University Mall was passed. The entirety of the funding will cover five food trucks for students. Meals will be provided for free and the hours are 2 to 5 p.m. on the Mall.

An act to allocate $1,020 to Renaissance for their Spring Tour from May 6 to 10 in New Brunswick, Canada was passed. The funding will go toward lodging and all other expenses are covered by the club. 

An act to allocate $2,268 to the Student Heritage Alliance Council for their Multicultural Formal in the Buchanan Alumni House on April 20 was passed. Of that total, $400 covers the venue fee, $1,460 covers Sodexo Catering, $48 covers utensils, $60 covers tablecloths and $150 covers decorations for the photo area. A stipulation was added to the original $380 allocation for cultural decorations, stating that members of the organization must meet with Ober to see if any decorations are still on campus before purchasing new ones.

An act to establish the Academic Affairs Committee as a permanently standing committee was passed. 

An act to reestablish the Food and Dining Affairs Committee as a special committee was passed.

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