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Eliot Cutler to lead new business school

USM Free Press News Feed - Tue, 2015-04-14 22:27

Former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler was recently appointed by the University of Maine System to develop the blueprints and take the reigns of leadership in the establishment of a new graduate business and law school in Portland.

The center will be located in Portland and is planned to combine the graduate business programs at the University of Maine in Orono and USM with the University of Maine School of Law to better develop programs for students in the community.

Cutler, who ran for governor in Maine as an independent candidate in 2014, explained that the investment for this project is funded through the Harold Alfond Foundation. According to Dan Demeritt, the UMaine system director of public affairs, the program has given an estimated $1.75 million toward the initiative.

“This new graduate school is about finding ways to leverage the programs we have at USM and UMaine through collaboration,” said Demeritt. “This is an exciting example of the type of investment we can draw to the university when we have innovative ideas in plan for our future.”

Cutler explained that because there is no model or plan that has already been put in place, he is the one who will have to develop a plan with the dean and the president over the course of the next year and a half. Assuming the board of trustees approve his plans, he explained that the program will become a collaborative project to give students the chance to obtain more skills for today’s job market.

With courses set to start in the fall, Cutler said that this will give students the opportunity to try things out and give him the opportunity to see how the program initiative works out. He believes that what will measure the school’s success will be the number of student participants.

When asked about whether or not the decision to begin a financially dependant project in a time when USM has been faced with financial crisis, Cutler said the effort being made to develop this new approach for graduate education is entirely funded, and therefore no money is being taken out of the system. He also explained that USM is simply going through a turnaround that requires big changes to occur.

“I’ve done a lot of turnarounds before. You need to remember that at the same time you’re eliminating costs that you can no longer afford to occur, you also need to make investments in the future,” said Cutler. “You are trying to build something better that is more responsive to what the market wants.”

James Suleiman, an associate professor of management information systems said that all of this can become a reality if as a community we can work together to seek out funding for this effort and build a top notch program to accomplish it.

“If it’s adequately funded I think this graduate school will be a success,” said Suleiman. “There are a lot of different measurements of whether or not it will fully succeed, such as whether or not it will get adequate enrollment.”

Million dollars spent on ads

USM Free Press News Feed - Tue, 2015-04-14 22:27

A one million dollar ad campaign was launched in February encouraging prospective students to “find themselves at USM,” but the effectiveness it’s had on boosting enrollment is unclear at this time.

Two weeks ago the Portland Press Herald reported that despite the numerous television and radio ads, undergraduate applications are down ten percent from last year and new enrollment for 2015 is down 41 percent. So far the admissions office has seen 3,809 applications compared to 4,249 from last year. But according to Christopher Quint, it’s too early for a final headcount for the fall and the 41 percent decline in enrollment reported by the Press Herald, is completely irrelevant.

“It’s not even close to being true,” said Quint. “There was no context, it was a snapshot in time, when there’s so much upward trajectory happening at USM.”

USM has seen a 13 percent drop in enrollment since fall 2010. Enrollment for last fall was down 5.5 percent with 8,428 students.

Last month at a board of trustees meeting, president David Flanagan said that in reality he expects enrollment to be down despite new advertising and scholarship money.

But according to Quint some of the positive momentum he’s seen includes increased traffic on USM’s website and more applications coming in from transfer and undergraduate students.

“People are clicking on our ads and inquiring about our programs,” said Quint. “We’re seeing upticks in applications across the board. It hasn’t fixed everything, but the ad campaign is having a positive impact.”

Quint said that the one million dollars used to pay for the ads came from savings in the budget that were a result of last fall’s faculty and staff retrenchments.

“We generated savings from having staff and some faculty, off the books if you will,” said Quint. “We were able to use those savings and put it towards something positive; getting more students here, so we don’t have to do this again. If you lay off someone, and don’t fill that position, that money is still in your budget. You can use it for something else. We made the decision to turn our enrollment around.”

In a comment written on social media, Susan Feiner a professor of economics and women and gender studies, criticized the money spent on the ad campaign and wrote that the savings won’t kick in until next year because the faculty that were fired are still paid their salary for 18 months.

However Quint explained that the severance pay is a cost being borne by the UMaine system.

Both Quint and the new president Harvey Kesselman said that boosting enrollment is the key to USM’s success.

“It’s our number one priority right now,” said Quint. “If we don’t boost enrollment, we’re going to continue to see a slide.”

The recent campaign ran advertisements on television, radio, Hulu and various websites promoting new scholarship money and USM’s new metropolitan vision. The ads themselves did not have any live action shots of people or footage from campuses, but instead featured blue and gold typography with a voiceover saying that USM is a “game changer.”

“Whenever I hear, ‘there’s never been a time like now to attend USM,’ in the ads I laugh because that is so true, but not in a good way,” said Annie Stevens,  2013 USM graduate, now Maine Law student. “There has never been a time when USM was doing so terrible and no one wanted to be there.”

Kate Ginn, a political science alumnus said that she lives 10 minutes away from USM, but will be attending another school for her master’s degree because she’s lost confidence in USM.

“I feel confident that the university I’ll be attending intends to preserve its academic programs and continue to grow as needed,” said Ginn. “Maybe the new ads will attract students and parents who don’t realize what has changed.”

Criticism swirls around on social media, with local Portlanders who have been following the situation at USM closely like Cecile Thornton poising the question: “how can you expect students to come to your institution when they’ve seen the rug pulled out from under so many enrollees.” The general opinion of critics, like Nancy Young a graduate at the University of Maine at Farmington, is that high school students will be leery to apply to USM because they can’t be sure that their major will survive the time it takes for them to graduate.

Some community members such as Portlander and Rutgers graduate Mark Usinger are more lenient and said that even Rome wasn’t built in a day and to cut the new guy some slack.

Martin Conte, a senior English major, said that it’s a fallacy to tell people to not go to USM if you care about the school’s future.

“Boosting enrollment won’t solve our severe issues with mismanagement but they will help with heaps of other things, and there’s no reason to oppose these attempts to do so,” said Conte.

For now, USM’s administration under Kesselman remains as optimistic as ever and is, will be and has been focusing on boosting enrollment in other ways besides targeted advertising.

“The ad campaign is done, but we’re not done,” said Quint. “We’ve been aggressively recruiting and placing phone calls to prospective students encouraging them to enroll.”

Last Friday, Kesselman drove nine hours from New Jersey to welcome 357 students and their families at Gorham’s accepted student day, and ultimately inspire them to take the final step toward enrolling. Kesselman said that he wants to be as visible as possible during his time as USM’s president.

“I think that many of the moves that we are making are helping to generate more excitement about our university; it plays a role in people choosing to come here,” said Kesselman. “Our university has experienced some difficulties, but now it’s rejuvenating and it’s incredibly satisfying to be a part of that process.”

SGA elections turnout lower than last year

USM Free Press News Feed - Tue, 2015-04-14 22:26

Late Monday afternoon, the results from this years student government elections were sent out by email, naming Rebecca Tanous for student body president and Matthew Creisher as vice president, winning by a margin of just 26 votes.

The newly elected Tanous expressed how excited and eager she was to get started.

“I’m really passionate about actually seeing changes and actually seeing action happen,” she said.

Tanous has been involved with student government for two and a half years and is currently serving as vice president until she is sworn in as president later this month.

“This is where I can have the most impact,” said Tanous. “It’s kind of just been a natural progression and this was my next step.”

Despite her leadership position at the SGA, Tanous said that she has no interest in pursuing politics after her college career.

“I’m not a politician,” said Tanous. “I’m really passionate about what I am involved in and right now I’m a USM student so I’m really passionate about what is happening.” According to Tanous her first order of business is to train other student leaders.

“First and foremost, we have these student leaders who are here to serve us and we need to use them more,” said Tanous.

According to the pamphlets laid out last week on the tables in the Brooks Center on the Gorham campus,Tanous wants to accomplish a lot. Tanous wants to look at the legislative side of the UMaine system and see what is most negatively affecting USM’s fiscal situation.

“We just had big cuts, we had a lot of student activism last year but that’s really tapered off,” said Tanous. “However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have the issue that UMO is getting around 50 percent of the funding equation and we’re only getting 20 percent. That still makes no sense in my mind.”

While Tanous believes that system level decisions played a key role in bringing USM’s budget to the state that it’s in, she also expressed that this was just part of the problem. The other negative factor is that system administrators might be siphoning too much money.

“There’s this other percent that is taken off the top and goes to people in offices that are working for our students but are already getting paid from other funds, so why are they taking some of our tuition dollars?” asked Tanous.

Tanous said she doesn’t agree with that mentality and thinks that it’s not indicative of an institution that put students first.

Tanous expressed that she would be very interested to see an audit to find out just how much is being taken out by the UMaine system.

“I think that is almost a bigger issue than the funding equation,” said Tanous.

In this year’s election there was a grand total of 345 ballots casted out of almost seven thousand students, so less than 5% of the student body participated in this year’s election. The voting numbers were even down from last year, when 452 students casted ballots.

Both Tanous and the director of student & university life Jason Saucier expressed their concern with how low voter turnout has been. “One of the biggest challenges is getting on student’s radar,” said Saucier.

There were some new strategies implemented this year to try and encourage students to get online and cast their vote. Email alerts were sent to all students, reminding them when the polls opened. A key factor in fostering student involvement was changing the day of the candidate debate from a Friday, when the Woodbury Campus center is virtually empty, to a Monday when it would be more busy. An increase in foot traffic and more convenient timing resulted in the candidates being exposed to more people.

“This year the voting process was not up to par,” said Tanous. “We had less people working on elections than usual, so we were really stretched thin.”

Tanous expressed desire not only to boost the voting numbers but to get students more interested and knowledgeable with all student government activities, projects and elections.

Student advocacy program launches

USM Free Press News Feed - Tue, 2015-04-14 22:26

Toward the end of March, students from six of the UMaine system’s seven universities took a trip to Augusta to spend a day at the statehouse.

The visit was the pilot event for a new pilot program being developed at the system level. The goal of the program is to bring student advocates from all UMS campuses together in Augusta to meet government officials, sit in on meetings and talk about issues that college students in the state are facing.

“I think students have been asking for this kind of opportunity for a long time,” said Laura Cyr, a postgraduate fellow in finance and administration, in an interview last month. “Students have been looking to learn about the decision making process, not only at their university but in their state government as well.”

This time around, the hot topic issue is how Governor Paul LePage’s proposed state budget affects Maine’s public universities.

According to a summary of LePage’s 2016-2017 budget, his plan includes a 3.64 percent increase — roughly $14.2 million — for the University of Maine system.

“I think this year, we’re handed an issue on a plate,” said Cyr, “but we’re excited that, in future years, students will be able to bring their own issues to the table.”

Four students attended the trip on March 24, along with students from other campuses. The University of Maine at Machias was the only school that did not send representatives.

Overall, student attendees said the day was a success.

“We’re here to really get an idea of what happens at the statehouse, to be student advocates for the UMS system and to really get our bearings in Augusta,” said Rachel Cormier, a non-traditional student who served on the Metropolitan University Steering Group earlier this year.

Cormier says that spending a day watching legislators work and getting a chance to speak with some of them erased the ‘intimidation factor’ some students might face when it comes to state politics.

“They were very communicative with us on levels that I didn’t expect,” said Cormier. “We have to remember that they’re just people and that we shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out to them.”

John Jackson, a student senator double majoring in political science and business administration, enjoyed his experience as well. Jackson said his interest in the program sparked because of the cuts to faculty and staff that occurred last fall.

“Getting a chance to meet legislatures is important in getting this budget passed,” he said.

Jackson said he has hoped to have more of an opportunity to speak with legislators, specifically those who might be on the fence with their vote on the budget.

“They’re going to be very busy on those days when they’re in sessions, so I know it’s difficult,” he said.

Jackson said he feels the state contribution to UMS funding is on the low-side and that it needs to be changed in order for the university to succeed financially.

“Hearing student voices is very important. Having students show up, especially from all campuses, is worth a lot more than an administrator or faculty member speaking out,” said Jackson.

“I don’t think students need to necessarily join the program with an agenda,” said Cormier, who didn’t mention any specific issues she was looking to address during her trip. “I think it’s better to just speak and get to know your local legislators.”

Cormier says that if students realize they have access to their government officials and learn to speak with them, it will be easier for them to recognize student voices.

“I feel like it’s easy for anyone who doesn’t have regular contact with students to assume we’re all just spoiled, young teens, but that isn’t true,” said Cormier. “A lot of people at USM are a little older and should reach out to legislators to say, I can be a resource, what do you need from me?”

Both Cormier and Jackson aspire to become legislators at some capacity in their future.

“I think this program is only going to open more doors for students,” said Cormier. “I hope that more students are able to go next year.

Networkmaine Maintenance - UMPI Apr 15, 2015

Outages - Tue, 2015-04-14 15:52
Where: UMPI
When: Apr 15, 2015 5AM
Expected Duration: 1/2hr
Scope: Voice Traffic

All voice traffic in and out of campus will be disrupted while maintenance is performed on equipment support phone lines into campus. Expected downtime is 10 minutes or less

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time

Networkmaine Maintenance - US:IT Orono Apr 15, 2015

Outages - Tue, 2015-04-14 14:36
Where: US:IT Orono
When: Apr 15, 2015 5AM
Expected Duration: 1/2hr
Scope: Meetingplace

Meetingplace servers will undergo maintenance the require them to be taken offline. Outage expected to be approx 15minuts

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time

Networkmaine Maintenance - USM, Gorham Apr 15, 2015

Outages - Tue, 2015-04-14 11:06
Where: USM, Gorham
When: Apr 15, 2015 5 AM
Expected Duration: 2hrs
Scope: Buildings Listed

We will be performing network maintenance at the following buildings:

Bailey Hall, Library Only
Upper-Class Hall

Data services will be impacted during the maintenance. Please plan accordingly.

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time


USM Popular Queries - Tue, 2015-04-14 09:01


USM Popular Queries - Tue, 2015-04-14 09:01

Networkmaine Maintenance - UM Campus Apr 15, 2015

Outages - Mon, 2015-04-13 15:55
Where: UM Campus
When: Apr 15, 2015 6:00 AM
Expected Duration: 1hr
Scope: Network connectivity for some buidlings

During the maintenance window, we will be doing some work in the following buildings:

Cutler Health,
Jenness Hall, and
Libby Hall

Outages should be brief, all buildings should be back online by 7:00 am.

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time

Networkmaine Maintenance - UM Campus Apr 15, 2015

Outages - Mon, 2015-04-13 15:46
Where: UM Campus
When: Apr 15, 2015 5:00 AM
Expected Duration: 1hr
Scope: Voice traffic

During the maintenance users will be unable to make/receive phone calls to/from UM campus. Maintenance should be brief, reserving the whole hour to resolve any issues.

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time

Networkmaine Maintenance - Bangor Apr 15, 2015

Outages - Mon, 2015-04-13 15:23
Where: Bangor
When: Apr 15, 2015 0500
Expected Duration: 1hr
Scope: MDI Bio Labs, Ellsworth schools, COA, City of Ells, Ellsworth Ctr, MDI schools, Jesup Lib, Bar Harbor City Hall, Hancock Cty Coop Ext, Ellsworth Pub Lib

Inserting a DCM module into the optical path. Sites listed should remain up on backup links; down time for the optical work should be no more than 15-20 minutes. [...]

Re: Networkmaine Maintenance - USM, Portland Apr 12, 2015

Outages - Sun, 2015-04-12 08:34
Maintenance is complete, Operations are back to normal. Thanks.


Re: Networkmaine Maintenance - USM, Portland Apr 12, 2015

Outages - Sun, 2015-04-12 07:16
Maintenance is complete. Operations are back to normal.


Networkmaine Maintenance - USM, Portland Apr 12, 2015

Outages - Fri, 2015-04-10 12:08
Where: USM, Portland
When: Apr 12, 2015 8 AM
Expected Duration: 1hr
Scope: Masterton Hall, 2nd Floor

We will be performing network maintenance that will impact data services for the 2nd Floor of Masterton Hall. Please plan accordingly.

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time


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