System officials target UMPI, UMFK programs for review

Anthony Brino & Jessica Potila, Special to The County
5 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Officials at the University of Maine System have singled out a range of academic programs to consider for consolidation, elimination or changes, including several at the University of Maine campuses in Fort Kent and Presque Isle.

At UMPI, the review is considering the programs in art history, political science and math, said spokesperson Rachel Rice, director of community and media relations.

However, the list of programs is “a working document” and no decisions have been made, she said. Among other factors, the review is based on programs that have limited enrollment.

“A program’s presence on this list does not indicate that programmatic action is being taken, it only indicates that UMPI is examining how to address the criteria that led to the programs being included in the list as not producing enough graduates (fewer than five graduates per year),” Rice said in an email.

“We have no plans to remove any programs from our academic portfolio at this time, but will be looking at ways they can better meet enrollment goals.”

At UMFK, the review targets five academic programs.

“Two years ago, all universities throughout the System were asked to look at programs that were under-enrolled, have few faculty, or do not have more than five students persisting to graduation per year,” said UMFK President John Short.

“We have been diligently and meticulously combing through programs to determine what changes we can make that repackage what we currently offer in order to retain and grow what we offer,” he said. “For example, while it appears that we lost social science, we simply pulled it under behavioral science to reflect what the industry trends are telling us.”

Other UMFK academic programs under review are the bachelor’s in business management healthcare (online); business management-accounting; English; and French.

“This does not mean we will suspend these programs, but that we need to look at how to repackage, grow or collaborate with other campuses on these programs,” Short said. “We need to look at how we can revise the curriculum to continue to offer state-of-the-art programs that lead to careers of the future.”

UMPI currently counts about 1,400 students and offers 25 bachelor’s degree programs, 40 minors and six certificate programs.

Rice added that program enrollment is not the only factor that will be considered in the program review.

“While programs may not have a large number of graduates, they certainly support tuition revenue and other programs,” Rice said. “For example, math is essential for our STEM programming and both math and history/political science are a very necessary part of our education program.”

News of the system-wide academic review was first reported by the Portland Press Herald on Jan. 28. University of Maine System officials told the Press Herald that a plan of action for all of the programs will come out in Maine for the board of trustees to review, and outcomes could include elimination, consolidation, or more online offerings in collaboration with other campuses.