2003-2008 Strategic Plan: Strengths and Weaknesses
The University of Maine at Fort Kent principal advantages include the following:
- Historical cultural setting: UMFK is unique in being situated in the St. John Valley, a bilingual/multi- cultural area where the Acadian culture merges with the French Canadian, Franco-American, Native- American, and Anglo-American cultures.
- Natural Environment: UMFK is surrounded by a beautiful and vast wilderness area of managed forest lands, lakes, and rivers.
- Proximity to Canada: UMFK is located on an international border with proximity to the Canadian Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
- Small size of campus and student body: The small size of the campus and student body affords several associated advantages:
- Advantages for Students: A family-like campus atmosphere, caring faculty and staff, small class sizes, and a low student faculty ratio allow for personalized attention to students.
- Advantages for Faculty: Faculty numbers and the institutional emphasis on quality undergraduate teaching result in a high degree of interaction among the faculty and exceptional degree of loyalty to the institution . Opportunities for instructional innovation and interdisciplinary cooperation abound.
- Advantages for Staff: Staff members generally wear several hats, therefore employees are cross trained to perform multiple jobs. This results in an unusually highly skilled work force.
- Advantages Accruing to the Institution:
- Readiness for change: The small size of the campus, a relatively flat organizational hierarchy, the absence of cumbersome and ossified bureaucratic structures, and highly participatory forms of governance create a campus climate encouraging of and conducive to change.
- Capable, cohesive, dedicated, and industrious faculty and staff: The work of faculty and staff takes place in a campus atmosphere which reflects the aspects of the culture of the St. John Valley that emphasizes informality and community values.
- Safe learning/working environment. A health clinic for students is housed in the Northern Maine Center for Rural Health Sciences.
- Convenient, attractive and well maintained facilities.
- Excellent relationships with community, public schools and health care agencies of the area: UMFK enjoys mutually beneficial and supportive relationships with the St. John Valley Community and with the public schools and health care agencies of the area.
- Emphasis on Teaching Excellence: UMFK's mission focuses on quality undergraduate instruction.
- Technological Resources: UMFK is well connected to the electronic world. Its networks and electronic services are advanced and farsighted. A fiber optic network connects all buildings and interfaces with the ATM switch to connect to the Internet. Advanced multimedia capabilities exist in 100% of all classrooms and 80% of all labs. Teleconferencing is available through compressed video, ITFS, interactive video, and Mpeg 2 technologies in both the Northern Maine Center for Rural Health Science/Northern Aroostook Center for Technology and the Old Model School. The campus maintains six computer labs. UMFK is an active participant in system-wide Enterprise Resource Planning to integrate systems.
- Acadian Archives: The mission of the Acadian Archives is to participate in preserving and celebrating the Acadian and Franco-American cultures and the French Language. A new building has been constructed to house its ever increasing collections and services.
- Unique Campus Location: Individuals seeking an alternative to urban and suburban life will find the low population density and arboreal vistas appealing. Integral Member of University of Maine System: Although UMFK has all of the benefits of a small liberal arts institution, it has access to varied resources of the University of Maine System.
The Major limitations of the University of Maine at Fort Kent are as follows:
- Small Size of Institution: UMFK's small size, while a source of several advantages, has some associated limitations:
- Limitations for Students: There are a few choices among majors and minors offered at UMFK. UMFK does not currently maintain an office of Career Planning and Placement.
- Limitations for Faculty: Faculty have few or no colleagues having common academic specialties with whom to discuss and share developments in their disciplines. Four separate course preparations per semester are common. Limited funding has reduced the ability of this campus to offer multiple sabbaticals.
- Limitations for Staff: Flat funding has caused reassignment and the accumulation of additional duties for most classified and professional staff.
- Limitations accruing to the institution:
- Limited Fiscal Flexibility: Due to the high ratio for payroll to total budget, the University has limited fiscal flexibility. This is compounded by the multiple task and responsibilities assigned to most campus personnel.
- Limited Range of Faculty and Staff Expertise: The small numbers of faculty and staff means that a limited range of expertise is available to solve problems and respond to opportunities.
- Limited Funding Formula: Recent double digit increases in FTEs has not been matched by system funding allocation.
- Recruitment and Retention of Faculty and Staff: Low salaries have decreased the opportunities for recruiting and retaining qualified faculty and staff.
- Reduced Probability of Attracting External Research Funds: The campus emphasis on teaching loads and course development reduces faculty time to concentrate on research and publication.
- UMFK's perceived remote northern location provides unique challenges.