A sign on the University of Maine at Farmington's campus is seen in this 2018 file photo. Credit: Courtesy of the University of Maine at Farmington

Nine faculty members at the University of Maine at Farmington have been laid off as the school deals with budget and enrollment challenges.

The University of Maine System said that the faculty members were notified about the layoffs yesterday, which officials say was largely driven by budget challenges, as well as an in-state enrollment decline of 20 percent over the past five years.

A spokesperson said that an additional nine faculty members accepted early retirement incentives — as did more than 100 other employees across the system.

The system said that the laid-off employees will receive 18 months of pay and benefits, and Chancellor Dannel Malloy said that officials will work as hard as possible to help them find new positions on other campuses.

On Tuesday, the Farmington university introduced its new interim president, Joseph McDonnell, who currently serves as a faculty member at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, and also previously served as a provost and dean.

McDonnell, who will begin a two-year term in July, said that in the midst of the school’s challenges, it will be important to implement the school’s strategic plan and build on its strengths to attract and retain students in the years ahead.

“And, where appropriate, to integrate this university into the larger university system and take advantages of the programs at the other six campuses,” McDonnell said.

Cathy Wimett, the chair of the university’s Board of Visitors, said McDonnell’s experience should serve the school well as it works to implement a strategic plan to stabilize its finances in the years ahead.

“As you continue the ongoing work of our strategic plan, I expect your experience in planning, management, and communication, will be critical to UMF’s future,” Wimett said.

The university’s current president, Edward Serna, is leaving at the end of June to take over as president of Winthrop University in South Carolina, his alma mater.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.