Officials went through the extensive budget review process in order to take a thorough look at programs, positions and services, and determine the most effective ways to stabilize the University's finances for the coming year as well as for the long-term.
"We have taken a very hard look at our budget and done as much belt-tightening as possible. Our goal throughout is to assure the long-term quality of the campus and to allow decisions that enhance the educational experiences of our students," President Don Zillman said. "While these are never easy decisions to make, we believe they are the best way to secure a healthy future for the University."
Campuses throughout the University of Maine System have been reviewing budgets and making difficult decisions around programs and services because of cuts in state funding, a declining population, and recommendations that have come out of the System's New Challenges, New Directions initiative.
University officials note that the reasonable expectations about budget resources in 2006-2007 changed with the state and national economic downturns. That has left campus expenses about half a million dollars above the available resources. Efforts in the last two years have been to put the budget in balance with the resources actually available in 2010-2011. The University has restructured its Physical Plant operations; retirements there have allowed the campus to reduce its Physical Plant staff by three employees. In academics, four programs with regularly low student enrollments were reviewed. A proposal to suspend the Sociology major will be presented to the System Chancellor. Other programs were restructured and faculty reassigned. Three full time and one half time faculty members have retired or will not be retained.
The actions concluded this week with consolidation in the Athletics Department with the elimination of one full-time administrative position. No sports programs were eliminated and no coaches were released as part of this consolidation. Because of this change, William Casavant will no longer be serving as UMPI's Athletic Director. The administrative duties of the Athletic Director position will be covered internally.
"Bill has done an outstanding job leading the Athletic Department since 2008 and has established a solid foundation for our programs. In the process, he developed a strong vision for Athletics and outlined steps to achieve that vision," Dean of Students Christine Corsello said. "With his departure, the University loses an excellent leader and sports advocate."
During his tenure, Casavant oversaw the University's 12 intercollegiate athletic teams -affiliated nationally with the NCAA Division III and the NAIA's Sunrise Conference - and directed club sports and the intramural sports program. He also headed up student-athlete recruitment efforts and fostered community support of University teams.
Casavant has served the regional athletics community for nearly 40 years. He served as a member of the Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Advisory Board and broadcast high school basketball and hockey games on the radio from 1984 to 2007. He also serves as a member of the Northern Maine Board of Approved Baseball Umpires and the College Baseball Umpires Association. He has served in the past on similar state boards for soccer and basketball officials. In 2006, he was named to the Hall of Honors by the Maine Sports Legends organization as a sports legend from the Northern Region-Aroostook Area.
Officials are working to ensure that, despite budget constraints, Casavant's legacy of excellence in athletics continues.