A Presentation by Richard Pattenaude, PhD, Chancellor of the University of Maine.
Today's Program:  A Presentation by Richard Pattenaude, PhD, Chancellor of the University of Maine.

Eighteen months ago when he became chancellor, he called his late Mother to tell her the news. She replied "Richie, I'm very proud of you. What's a chancellor?"  A teenager asked him the same question in this way, "You're in charge of the whole shebang?"  The following article summarizing his comments appeared in the Morning Sentinel on Tuesday, December 9th. 


WATERVILLE -- Like many other institutions, the University of Maine System is not immune to the effects of an economic downturn.  As such, it is imperative that the university system face its economic challenges, continues to improve quality of learning, is environmentally responsible and maintains financial stability, University of Maine Chancellor Richard L. Pattenaude told the Waterville Rotary Club Monday. "We want to move down the path to financial sustainability so we can have a University of Maine System that the state can afford," Pattenaude said.  Pattenaude spoke to a packed banquet room at the Alfond Youth Center, where he was introduced by Waterville resident and University of Maine System Trustee, Paul Mitchell.  Pattenaude said reducing costs, instituting a hiring freeze and delaying equipment purchases are some of the things the system has done to face economic challenges. "We cut $19 million and 140 positions at the university before we began this year," he said. "Since then, we've cut $8.3 million." The largest educational organization in the state, the system comprises seven universities spread from Fort Kent to Portland. It includes 10 outreach centers, a law school and 75 interactive learning sites. Pattenaude said 45,000 students attend classes annually; the system employs 5,000 people; tuition and fees are now pushing $9,200 per year. With room and board and book costs, the annual figure for in-state students is roughly $20,000.  The system gets $185 million a year from the state Legislature and generates a bit more than that in tuition; the university's economic scope is $678 million, according to Pattenaude.  The university system has five broad goals, the first of which is to ensure student success -- making sure people graduate from college -- which provides opportunities and a trained workforce, Pattenaude said. "We view our job as increasing the number of people who have college degrees," he said. The second goal: helping to strengthen the Maine economy through research, development and education initiatives at all seven campuses. The third is trying to make the UMaine system the greenest in the U.S. and fourth, maintaining financial sustainability.  Pattenaude said school officials are out in the public arena talking about the university because there are other entities contending for resources and attention. The last goal is for the system to become a leading voice in advancing the role and value of higher education in the state, he said.  "It is absolutely imperative if the state of Maine is to move forward and prosper that one of the priorities is a quality, rigorous, responsible university system," he said. "With your help, we'll produce it."  Rotarian Doug Carnrick asked Pattenaude if prospective students are opting to attend college in Maine because of the economic situation.  Pattenaude said community colleges are typically the largest beneficiary and the university system also is attracting students.  "We're seeing that, and that will be for a while," he said. "I think the more critical question is financial aid."

The university system has no problem with continuing to offer financial aid, while some other, private colleges are having to take students who can pay their own way, he said.  "That will bring students into public, higher education," he said.  In response to questions from Rotarian Jim Schmidt, Pattenaude said the university system also is combining jobs and asking questions such as whether the University of Maine at Machias should run a day-care center. But he cautioned that only so much cutting can be done before the Maine system is threatened.                                                                    Amy Calder -- 861-9247