UMaine System reviewing all academic programs

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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - The University of Maine System is taking a complete look at all the programs offered at their campuses statewide and how many students are in those programs.

The idea, according to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University of Maine System Robert Neely, is to find out what is working for the system and for the students.

"For the first year of this endeavor,' said Neely, "we've looked at the number of graduates per year, that's a three year rolling average, and the number of majors in undergraduate programs, and again, that's on a basis of a three year rolling average."

The initial review showed 130 programs that weren't producing enough graduates to remain viable.

After looking at the list further, that was paired down to 32 programs at the seven schools.

"If you just realize eventually that a program can't attract the students and you've got other programs that need investments, then you need to have a conversation about reallocation," added Neely. "But that's down the road."

With the list in place, each campus will present plans in March for what to do with each program.

Then in May, each Provost will present to the System Board and explain what they want to see happen with those plans.

August 1st, the system wide review starts again.

By August of next year, the level of changes and their impact will be reviewed.

"The power in this is the iteration, doing it over and over and over and trying things," said Neely. "You know in the world of continuous improvement, they'd call this closing the loop. You identify a problem, you look for a solution, you implement that solution, and then you assess whether it's effective. Then you gauge it, and you just keep doing this over and over."

The plan is not to eliminate or suspend programs, but the goal is to make sure the system is offering what the state and the students need to succeed.

"It should ensure over time a robust inventory of programs that are meeting the needs of students and attracting not just Maine citizens, but hopefully people from outside the state, too."