The University of Southern Maine is trying to avoid a death spiral. Enrollment is down 1/3 leading to a massive budget shortfall. The market will not accept dramatic increases in tuition and the legislature is not willing to bail them out. To survive, 1/5 of faculty and 1/6 of staff positions are to be eliminated.
Naturally, there is concern these dramatic cuts to the institution will affect quality, which will lead to a further decline in enrollment and a downward spiral. The politics, blame game, and personal repercussions are difficult to watch.
We know that student integration into the social and academic life of the institution is the major factor in retention and graduation rates. Institutions that fail to recognize the power of the student experience risk a similar fate. Faculty, staff, and administration need to embrace service excellence as their first line of self-defense against the bursting education bubble