The University of Southern Maine continued efforts to balance its budget Monday, announcing that it is laying off 14 non-faculty employees, reorganizing research programs and tapping $3 million from infrastructure reserves to lower expenses by about $9 million.

Interim USM President David Flanagan outlined the plan, which follows the previously announced elimination of 50 faculty positions and two academic programs to save an estimated $7 million. Together, the cuts and reserve funds would close a projected $16 million budget gap for the 2016 fiscal year that begins July 1. This year’s budget is $134 million.

“A key principle of this framework is the determination to reduce expenses in all sectors of the university – operations, academic, administrative and capital – rather than require any one sector to bear all the costs of change,” Flanagan said in a written statement. “We made difficult decisions to arrive at this framework, decisions that involve choices about organization, infrastructure, reserves, and most challenging of all, personnel. Here we employed another key principle: We worked to minimize the impact on our employees by taking advantage of retirements, resignations and other position vacancies to accumulate cost savings.”

USM has about 770 full- and part-time non-faculty employees.

Among the administrative position cuts announced Monday were the director of operations and planning for the College of Management and Human Services, the associate provost of undergraduate education, the associate vice president for operations and the assistant director for public affairs. Three financial manager positions, four administrative support positions and two communications administrative positions also were eliminated.

Judie O’Malley, assistant director of public affairs and one of the employees told she was being laid off, declined to comment.

USM did not provide the names of those targeted for layoffs. Other affected employees could not be contacted Monday.

Jerry LaSala, chair of the USM Faculty Senate, was hoping to see more than the eight cuts in administration positions, given the high number of faculty members who were let go.

Flanagan had announced in October that 50 of the school’s 343 full-time faculty positions would be cut, a reduction of 15 percent. Many more faculty members resigned or retired before the cuts, although not all of those positions will be eliminated.

“In some sense, this was cynically what I expected, but I was perhaps hoping for more,” LaSala said. “There are only two there that are in upper-level administrative positions.”

All told, 160 positions at USM have been affected by the budget cuts, through layoffs, retirements, resignations and reductions. About 130 of those positions will not be refilled.

“Our budget-balancing focus has been on creating financial sustainability for USM,” Flanagan said Monday. “This university needs, and our students and wider community deserve, an affordable, accessible, quality public higher education institution in southern Maine. The transitional work, and associated management efforts, will continue.”

The budget problems at USM are part of a larger shortfall in the University of Maine System, which is facing a projected deficit of $69 million by 2019. The system’s total budget is $529 million.

Monday’s announced layoffs came in the wake of other changes at USM. In addition to eliminating the master’s program in applied medical sciences and the undergraduate French program, the university system trustees had previously cut the American and New England studies graduate program, the geosciences major, and the arts and humanities major at USM’s Lewiston campus.

The 14 layoffs announced Monday, coupled with another 45 retirements and resignations among non-faculty staff, will save about $5 million. However, because some people who retired were not in the departments or positions targeted for cuts, not all of those jobs will be eliminated.

Flanagan, who was hired this summer as a bridge between outgoing president Theo Kalikow and a permanent replacement, hired a new management team when he took over – including some members who already were USM employees – and consolidated the job duties of other staff members. Flanagan said in August that consolidating the roles and duties among the senior leadership team would save the school $134,500 in salaries.

System board of trustees member James Erwin, responding to Monday’s announcement, said the school is in a transition period that requires “tough choices.”

“We deeply regret the impact of these choices on members of the university community,” he said in a written statement.

The use of $3 million in infrastructure reserves means some capital projects will either be delayed in the coming fiscal year or will be paid for with other funds. No decisions have been made about which projects could be affected, said USM spokesman Chris Quint.

The final $1 million will come from reducing USM’s research programs and generating new revenue, some of which could be achieved through fees, such as for parking.

All the numbers released Monday were approximate and will not be finalized until January, when the budget is presented to the board of trustees.

Faculty members and students have decried the cuts, saying they go too far.

Members of the Faculty Senate also have criticized USM administrators for not seeking their input during the process, which some believe is a violation of the school’s constitution.

“These decisions are being made at a high level with only post-facto consultation with faculty or union members,” LaSala said.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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