What’s going on in the University of Maine system?
After a week in which we discovered Chancellor Dannel Malloy had botched big changes at two of the schools he oversees, we wonder how the ball was dropped so badly and why officials are so secretive about their plans. for public universities in Maine.
On May 7, the Sun Journal reported that nine faculty members at the University of Maine at Farmington found out days before that their positions had been cut.
Sources said the cuts removed all staff from the Women’s and Gender Studies program, the Department of Philosophy and Religion and Modern Languages. Three other positions have been cut in the departments of geography, history and psychology.
Among the school’s fired faculty were advisers to student groups. Most of them had been in school for a decade or more.
This decision demoralized the UMF community. He has complicated plans for students whose degrees may be delayed.
And they got little explanation from university officials, who only say the cuts are in response to “UMF budget and enrollment challenges” — and no details on how the positions individuals were singled out for elimination, despite calls for responses.
UMaine officials even declined to confirm the exact posts removed, citing a flimsy excuse.
This naturally caused students and faculty to wonder where their university was headed. UMF, a renowned school for teacher training, prides itself on its liberal arts education.
They should. A well-rounded liberal arts education gives students what they need to succeed in an interconnected, ever-changing, and ever-challenging world.
As one faculty member told the Sun Journal, education is “the cornerstone of democracy”, “trains young people to think creatively and critically about the world around them; develop their sense of curiosity towards others; caring about things; on the importance of pushing your limits and thinking outside the box.
Now, the cuts and the secrecy surrounding them have the UMF community concerned that the leadership of the UMaine system does not value this education in the same way. There have been indications in conversations between students and UMF officials that the cuts are part of a system-wide effort to focus on vocational training.
If that’s true, Malloy needs to better explain it to the UMaine community and the state as a whole. It’s up to him to say why it makes sense to risk UMF’s reputation and why he thinks eliminating the working classes will make the school more attractive to students.
So far, his explanations have been incomplete and his interactions with students and teachers disappointing and sometimes dishonest.
Malloy quickly loses confidence. UMF students staged a 24-hour sit-in this week to protest the cut positions and demand the resignation of Malloy, as well as that of new interim president Joseph McDonnell, who was apparently hired without input from Faculty.
Malloy also made mistakes in the search for a new president at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he hid from the search committee the fact that their eventual choice had been the subject of serious allegations in his previous position. .
Errors at UMA and UMF are separate, but they are related. In both cases, teachers and students felt like they didn’t matter – as if they were just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Malloy should know by now that’s not the case. Instead, they are members of a community who deserve their input on its future, and they should be treated that way.