Maine's Public Universities - University of Maine System

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University System Trustees Seek Support for 'Re-investment' Plan

Bond Proposals Ask for Funds to Improve Classrooms and Laboratories

BANGOR – The University of Maine System Board of Trustees on Monday adopted two capital improvement proposals that seek “re-investment” in classrooms, laboratories, and other university facilities.

Meeting in Bangor, trustees approved a capital improvements plan comprised of two parts:
- a $62 million State-issued bond for classroom, laboratory and educational technology renovations and improvements for Maine’s seven public universities and 11outreach centers; and
- a $66 million State-issued bond in strategic improvements to research and development facilities at the University of Maine in Orono and the University of Southern Maine, the two System universities involved in graduate-level research. Funds would be used to enhance those universities’ ability to attract federal research funds and, in some instances, to match federal funds available for laboratory improvements and other facilities.

The two proposals will be submitted to the Governor and Legislature for their consideration.

“As the recent Brookings Institution report makes clear, for us to serve the current and future generations, it’s essential that we work with State policymakers to protect and enhance Maine’s investment in its public universities,” explained System Chancellor Terrence J. MacTaggart. “These two re-investment proposals will help improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of those universities for our faculty, staff, and students.”

MacTaggart noted that the University System is responsible for more than 650 buildings at its universities, satellite campuses, and research and outreach centers. The total replacement value is more than $2 billion, and represents half of Maine’s total affiliated State properties.

According to MacTaggart, the two capital improvement proposals were developed through a priority-setting process to determine the areas of greatest need and urgency. The two bond proposals were developed from a list of university priorities totaling over $470 million.

Trustees also approved a request for a $3 million State appropriation to acquire “next generation” high-speed broadband capacity deemed essential to university-related research and development. He noted that Gov. Baldacci has included this request in his recent FY07 supplemental appropriation budget.

Noting the far-reaching potential and economic opportunities of the expanded broadband capacity, MacTaggart offered a comparison.

“Like the development of Interstate 95 in Maine in the late 20th century, this electronic ‘highway’ offers great potential at the start of the 21st century,” MacTaggart added.

In other business discussed on Monday, MacTaggart reported that university researchers attracted $42.7 million in federal and private research funds during 2006 related to the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF), a State-funded, university-based research and development program. MEIF is a partnership between the State and the University System to promote economic development in seven targeted economic sectors.

MacTaggart said that in 2006 university researchers used $14.5 million in State-provided MEIF funds to leverage the federal and private sector grants and contracts. He said the program has become a major force in building research and development as a “fast-growing Maine industry with tremendous untapped potential.

“Since MEIF was created in 1997, our university faculty, staff, and students have been awarded more than $305 million in federal grants and contracts because of the seed money MEIF has provided,” MacTaggart continued. “In 2006 alone, more than 700 jobs were created or supported specifically through this university and state economic growth partnership. Even more is possible as this partnership continues.”

In other business, trustees approved the appointment of Richard R. Campbell as chief financial officer of the University of Southern Maine; Joseph F. Carr as director of University Relations at the University of Maine; William H. Foster as dean of USM’s Muskie School of Public Service; Karen D. Kemble as UMaine’s director of the Office of Equal Opportunity; and Laura L. Pruett as chief financial officer for the University of Maine at Augusta.

Established in 1968, the 34,000-student University of Maine System is the state’s largest educational enterprise. It features seven universities – some with multiple campuses – located across the state, as well as 11 University College outreach centers and more than 100 interactive distance education sites. For more information, log onto