UMS Bulletins
FOR RELEASE AT 3:00 PM, February 2, 2005
CONTACT: John Diamond 207-949-4904 (cell) or Rita Sullivan 207-973-3245

WESTPHAL SAYS STATE FUNDING FOR UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
IS CRITICAL TO MAINE'S FUTURE

AUGUSTA - University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal today told lawmakers that the level of State support the University System receives “has a direct and concrete influence on our ability to serve and satisfy Maine's need for an educated workforce, job creation, economic growth, quality healthcare and schools, sustainable natural resources, and numerous other public objectives and purposes.”

Speaking at the State House as part of a joint session of the Legislature's Appropriations and Education committees, Westphal stressed that the influence of Maine's public universities is far greater than simply providing post-secondary education. He cited a wide range of ways that the University System's teaching, research, and outreach missions benefits Maine people educationally, economically, culturally, and individually.

“Maine's University System is more than simply a provider of classes and courses,” Westphal stated. “It is indeed one of the most complex and influential factors in the vitality of Maine's economy and its quality of life. Every discussion of State support for higher education must keep in mind the University System's broad and unique influence.”

Wednesday's joint committee session was held to hear testimony on the Baldacci administration's proposed biennial budget for the University of Maine System. The proposed budget increases System funding by $1 million, raising the annual appropriation to $181.1 million. University System trustees had requested an increase to $195.2 million in FY06 and to $209.2 million in FY07. The trustees' request would increase funds for student financial aid, expand outreach programs to support teacher-education and nursing-education, increase research and development funding, and provide compensation increases for employees.

In his presentation, Westphal emphasized that the impact of the State's appropriation to the University System would accomplish a great deal.

“The truth is, the University System is simply the catalyst for turning those [appropriations] dollars into public benefits,” Westphal stated.

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System is the state's largest educational entity, with more than 34,300 students enrolled. 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 www.maine.edu.

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