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USM Popular Queries - Thu, 2014-08-14 08:01

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David Flanagan, former Central Maine Power CEO, named interim president

USM Free Press News Feed - Thu, 2014-07-24 14:07

David Flanagan, former Central Maine Power Co. CEO and UMS board of trustees chairman, will be the interim president at USM starting next Monday announced officials yesterday.

“David Flanagan is one of Maine’s most trusted, experienced and accomplished business leaders and public servants,” said Chancellor James Page at a press conference Wednesday, outlining Flanagan’s work as a counsel both in state and national government and how he led a response to the 1998 ice storm in Maine.

Flanagan will be coming out of retirement to serve as USM’s president, like his predecessor Theodora Kalikow, who recently left USM to lead a ‘community engagement initiative’ at the system-level.

“This university has extraordinary assets – talented faculty, dedicated staff, serious students and the most desirable locations in the state,” said Flanagan. “Yet, something is seriously wrong here. USM is losing out. In enrollment, in revenue, in public support.”

According to Page, Flanagan will be tasked with strengthening USM’s ties with the community, moving the university toward implementing the Metropolitan University Model set forth by the administration and closing the expected $12.5 million gap between projected revenues and expenses in the next fiscal year.

“I have seen this phenomenon before — a competent, well-meaning organization built up over decades in a cocoon of monopoly conditions suddenly has to confront competition and changing conditions,” said Flanagan. “In USM’s case, the demographics have changed, competition has increased and state support has seriously declined. When you look at the statistics on enrollment, revenue, market share, and deficit spending, you know we have kicked the can down the road for far too long.”

“I was CEO of the largest public service company in Maine during some trying times – trying politically, commercially and financially,” he continued. “Reform, restructuring and repurposing is a hard, wrenching, sometimes personally painful job. But it is possible for even a large unwieldy organization like USM to come out of it stronger and better and more service-oriented than ever.”

Flanagan will receive an annual salary of $203,000 and will be in the position until a permanent president is found by a search committee, a process Page said could take a year to complete.

Before the press conference, Flanagan held a private meet and greet with selected student leaders including student government representatives, board of trustees representatives and chairs of various student organizations.

“I’m not some sort of tyrant who thinks I have a monopoly on good ideas,” said Flanagan, explaining that he has helped turned around companies by following some principles: Have respect for people, listen to the people who have frontline knowledge, and to look at companies that are doing well and trying to adapt their strategies if possible.

He stressed to students that, while balancing the budget would include cuts that he knew the university needs to grow as well and that he would be focusing on increasing revenue streams.

“I’m very excited about this and I’m excited to be working with you,” he told students. “I can’t wait to begin and I hope that together we can really turn this place around and make something terrific out of it.”

“The future I see for the University of Southern Maine is a bright one. It is with great appreciation and optimism that the Board of Trustees and I ask David Flanagan to light that way,” said Page at the press conference.

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Student Life lays off Portland director Christopher O’Connor in downsizing efforts

USM Free Press News Feed - Tue, 2014-07-08 12:01

The department of Student Life announced recently that it would be eliminating the director of Portland Student Life position in an effort to downsize amidst recent budget cuts.

Christopher O’Connor, the now former director, said he could feel something going on within the department and that he almost expected being laid off.

“The way the structure of student life has changed over the past year and recent responsibility changes, I knew something was going to happen,” said O’Connor.

According to Susan Campbell, the chief Student Affairs officer, the decision was made based on changing demographics in USM’s enrollment and the need to work with less with the university’s current financial state.

“It wasn’t based on any individual, it was based on programmatic decisions,” said Campbell. “We’re trying to flatten the administrative structure and put more people directly in contact with students.”

“Our enrollment is dropping,” said Judie O’Malley, assistant director of Public Affairs. “You have to size your organization to fit the number of people you serve.”

Members of the group Students for #USMFuture reached out to O’Connor and asked him if he wanted them to fight for his job as a part of their recent protest efforts.

“You couldn’t have been more deliberately offensive to students,” said Philip Shelley, a member of the protest group, of O’Connor’s firing. “We’re asking them to look at administrators’ salaries and the cut the very active and very loved student life director.”

O’Connor told protesters to fight for the position, but not him.

“I don’t care about me. I care about the students,” said O’Connor. “I personally don’t agree with putting students in that place. They shouldn’t have to rally for our jobs. I don’t want my job back. In many ways, I’m relieved to be out of there.”

Joy Pufhal, the executive director of Student Life, said that the decision to let O’Connor go was not easy.

“It was a great loss for me personally, for the department and for USM,” said Pufhal. “These  are hard decisions that unfortunately have to be made. We have to get out of these times at USM where we’re cutting and cutting and cutting.”

O’Connor’s responsibilities have been divided between other Student Life employees and the department has been restructured. Jason Saucier, the former director of Gorham Student Life, will now lead student life as a whole.

O’Connor was skeptical of the restructuring, and spoke about the ‘boots on the ground’ initiative that began when Theodora Kalikow became USM’s president two years ago.

“I didn’t know how I could be anymore involved with students,” said O’Connor. “We’ve barely kept enrollment up in Gorham. Gorham has been spiraling for the past four or five years, and now we’re taking that staff, no disrespect to them as professionals, and task them with maintaining Portland as well? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Pufahl said she was very confident in the new structure and believes that they can deliver the programs students are used to with a smaller staff.

“Some folks are going to panic, but the sky’s not falling,” said Pufhal. There’s a lot of work to get done, but we will do it. We must do it. I care very deeply about the students and I will do everything in my power to deliver the best student experience possible.”

 

USM makes list of nation’s most expensive colleges, official says data is out-of-date

USM Free Press News Feed - Wed, 2014-07-02 17:44

USM as one of the nation’s most expensive public four-year colleges for in-state students according to a recent report published by the U.S. Department of Education.

USM was ranked 23rd in the public four-year college category with a net price — the amount that students paid after receiving grants and scholarships — of $18,177 a year. The national average net price was reported to be $11,582 annually.

The report was based on data submitted from the 2011-’12 academic year, which Assistant Director of Public Affairs Judie O’Malley said contained erroneous data submitted by a former employee.

O’Malley said officials made attempts to alter the data they had submitted after the errors were discovered, but that the deadline to make changes to their submissions had passed.

“It’s unfortunate this report has been released using that year,” said O’Malley, noting that the university submits their reports to the Department of Education annually. “The feds have all these numbers, but they’ve chosen ‘11-’12.”

O’Malley said that the data, which is now three years old, does not reflect efforts that have been made recently to keep costs down.

“USM has taken steps to make itself more affordable for students,” said O’Malley, noting that the report would not have reflected the tuition-freeze or reduction in student-housing costs made in the spring of 2012.

During the 2011-2012 year, the University of Maine’s flagship campus at Orono was listed as having a net price of $15,299, lower than the smaller campuses at USM.

O’Malley chalked up the difference between Maine universities to the endowments and scholarships available at UMO in comparison to USM. She also said USM is primarily a commuter school and that commuter students rarely have the connections that resident students do, which affects donation rates from alumni.

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USM Popular Queries - Wed, 2014-07-02 08:01

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