USM President Rescinds Proposed Faculty Layoffs

Those regular readers of this blog will know that we have published several posts on the proposed elimination of faculty positions at the University of Southern Maine ostensibly to close a continuing budget gap but also to allow the administration more “flexibility” in funding programs.

This afternoon, the Lewiston Morning Sentinel is reporting that the president of the university of Southern Maine, Theodora Kalikow, has reversed herself on those faculty cuts:

“The surprise announcement came as the Faculty Senate unveiled a draft 27-point proposal for alternative cuts and about two dozen students traveled to Augusta to lobby state lawmakers. The students met with members of the Portland delegation and the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

“Also, the faculty union sent a grievance letter to the administration Thursday challenging the layoffs.

“But Kalikow said none of those things played a role in her decision, saying she had been out of state and didn’t know about the union letter and had not read the Faculty Senate proposal. And while she praised the students for their activism, she said that did not play a role in the reversal, either.

“Kalikow said she didn’t see herself as ‘caving’ in to pressure, but didn’t say exactly what changed her mind.

“’The faculty made a good case that they had possibly better ideas,’ she said. ‘This was a difficult decision, but it’s best for USM for the faculty and administration to be more tightly involved in these crucial decisions.’”

Regardless of whether she did in fact cave to the political pressure exerted by the faculty, students, and alumni or she was truly persuaded by the case made by the faculty, this news is a positive illustration of both the need for and the benefits of shared governance, as well as a demonstration of the power of concerted action by coalitions of faculty, students, and alumni.

The full text of the rather lengthy and fairly comprehensive article in the Lewiston Daily Sentinel can be found at:



3 thoughts on “USM President Rescinds Proposed Faculty Layoffs

    • Thanks for reporting this, Martin. Good news to be sure, but one can’t help noticing the ominous, threatening tone of some of Kalikow’s comments:

      “[The faculty] have a couple more weeks to give me better alternatives,” Kalikow said. “The long-term goals remain the same.”

      “It may turn out that [the laid-off faculty] will get fresh letters,” she said, adding, “I have no idea what might happen.”

      I don’t think it was a coincidence that she reversed course on the layoffs the day after receiving a letter from the AAUP national office.

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