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UMS officials to visit UMFK April 22 to discuss strategic plan that calls for University of Northern

April 16, 2004


The University of Maine at Fort Kent campus and the St. John Valley community will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the University of Maine System's recently released draft strategic plan when system officials visit the university on Thursday, April 22.

Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal, Vice Chancellor Elsa Nunez, Executive Director of Policy Analysis, James Breece, and Executive Director of External Affairs, John Diamond will visit the Fort Kent campus for a day of meetings and open forums to discuss the UMS draft plan, which was released at the end of March and is now scheduled for a Board vote September 20.

Three members of the UMS Board of Trustees are scheduled to attend including Gregory Cyr, James Mullen and Charles Johnson.

The visit will include a full-day series of 60 to 90-minute open sessions at which employees, students, the community, and other interested individuals may comment on the plan or pose questions.

Community members are invited to comment on the draft plan in the final session of the day at 3:15 p.m. in the Fox Auditorium.

"It is important that the voices of our community be heard in this process. The UMFK campus enjoys a truly unique and especially close relationship with its surrounding communities," said UMFK President Richard Cost. "In my entire career, I have never seen such a close and mutually supportive environment."

UMS officials will begin their day meeting with Cost and members of his cabinet in an hour-long session beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Daigle conference room.

At 8:45 a.m., Wesphal, Nunez and the Trustees will hold an open meeting with UMFK classified staff. That session will be followed by a similar session at 10:00 a.m. with members of the university's professional staff. Both sessions will be held in the Nadeau Hall teleconference room.

UMFK students will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts on the draft strategic plan with the system officials during lunch from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. All student senators will meet with the officials. They will prepare for this meeting by hosting an open meeting for students Monday night.

Faculty leadership, including division chairs and the chair of the faculty assembly, will meet at 12:30 p.m. with the chancellor's team in the Grindle conference room. The full faculty will meet with the UMS officers afterwards at 1:45 p.m. in Nowland Hall, prior to the open community meeting at 3:15 p.m.

The strategic planning process was initiated by the UMS Board of Trustees to address several factors affecting public higher education in Maine: the recent creation of the Maine Community College System; significant increases in operating and health care costs; decreased State funding; and the need for Maine's public universities to play a more prominent role as a partner and resource for economic and social development in Maine.

Under the draft plan, the University System's institutions in Fort Kent, Presque Isle, and Machias would merge to become the University of Northern Maine, with campuses remaining at each location.

Other changes to the structure of the University System would include strengthening the University of Maine, located in Orono, as the System's flagship, land-grant institution to achieve increased state and national prominence as a leading teaching and research institution.

The University of Maine at Augusta would become a campus of the University of Southern Maine, phasing out its associate-degree programs while adding a number of graduate-level programs currently unavailable through UMA. USM would maintain its role as an urban comprehensive university and would accept administrative responsibility for five existing University College outreach centers.

The University of Maine at Farmington would continue its distinct niche as a small public liberal arts college with strong teacher-education programs.