- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The University of Maine System will cut up to 165 jobs in the coming year and the number could grow because of additional cuts that are under consideration, Chancellor James Page told state lawmakers Friday.

The university system is already facing a $36 million shortfall but another $9 million could be cut as lawmakers make further adjustments to balance the budget. The additional cut could mean the loss of up to 95 more jobs if absorbed entirely through the system’s payroll, an unlikely scenario, Page said.

Page, who addressed the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, said the university is transitioning to an era of leaner dollars that has included no tuition increases for two years, and probably for a third year.

He said afterward that staffing cuts are traumatic, but added that the business model in place for decades isn’t working.

“Cuts are painful. They’re never fun. It’s traumatic to the individuals and to the organization. Separate from that, people know we have to change, we have to adapt,” Page said.

The Legislature is attempting to close a $90 million revenue shortfall in the two-year state budget. The university cuts are among many ideas up for discussion.

Page said he worried that the additional cuts could prove disruptive as the system transforms into a leaner organization that’s better situation to meet its mission.

“We are in a difficult transitional phase, and adding the contemplated reductions will force us to make major additional cuts that will inevitably threaten programs, services, and indeed our entire transformational process,” he told the committee.

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