Academic freedom and tenure: The University of Southern Maine

Michael Bérubé, Howard D. Bunsis, Deanna Wood, Henry Reichman, Don M. Eron, Marjorie Heins, Christopher Hoofnagle, Walter Benn Michaels, Debra Nails, Cary R. Nelson, Joan Wallach Scott, Hans Joerg Tiede, Rudy Fichtenbaum, Risa L. Lieberwitz, Joan E. Bertin, Barbara M. Jones, James Turk, Irene T. Mulvey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The University of Maine system remains in very strong financial condition, having generated large cash surpluses and reserves. The main basis for this conclusion is the university's high bond rating, which is buttressed by strong reserves. As figure 1 demonstrates, reserves are not only strong but growing. At the University of Southern Maine, as table 1 shows, the amount of total expenses devoted to those who teach is only 31.4 percent. For full-time faculty members (the ones who were eliminated), instructional costs (salaries plus benefits) are only 18.5 percent of total expenses. Given how small a share of total expenses is devoted to full-time faculty positions, there was no warrant to lay off any full-time faculty members. The University of Southern Maine had already implemented a large reduction in the number of full-time faculty positions through the 2014-15 academic year, as table 2 demonstrates. From 2011 to 2015, enrollment at USM declined by 13 percent; however, the number of full-time faculty positions declined by 18 percent during this period. Given the previous decline in full-time faculty positions, there is no demonstrated need for additional reductions. Furthermore, these reductions were accompanied by an increase in parttime faculty positions. The shift to part-time faculty appointments is not a consequence of declining enrollment (since the reduction in full-time faculty appointments more than matches the enrollment decline). Rather, it represents administrative decisions to Erode the full-time tenured professoriate. Because the administration of the University of Southern Maine has more than suffcient current cash flows and reserves, any decision to eliminate even more full-time positions and replace them with part-time positions is unwarranted on financial grounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-77
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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