PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine)-- In early October, students at the University Of Southern Maine were offered a pop-up-course worth one college credit, to take a bus to Washington, D.C., with demonstrators planning to urge Senator Susan Collins to oppose confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. There was immediate backlash locally and nationally against the University for what was viewed as pushing a political agenda onto students. School administrators claimed they were not aware of the course and immediately shut it down. After that incident, an investigation was launched and and the results have been released.
A summary of the findings reads:
• USM has decided to take the pop-up course program completely in house. Both the President and Provost believe strongly in the value of pop-up courses to address topical events and issues, as well as serving as a valuable retention tool.
• As USM shifts to funding pop-up course internally, the university terminated last week the subcontract with AFUM related to the MEA grant funding the pop-up courses. In doing so, all grant expenses, including the position paid through the grant to administer the program, have been discontinued.
• This decision has nothing to do with our positive and collegial relationship with AFUM or the MEA, and only to do with a cumbersome three-party administrative structure that enabled a faculty member to do an end-around the process.
• USM expects to have new rules and procedures for pop-up course in the near future.
Among its findings, the report confirms that:
1. The defined course approval process was clearly circumvented in this instance.
2. Because of immediate action the President and Provost took upon learning of the unauthorized pop-up course, the course was shut down and no students received credit for taking the bus to Washington DC. The university also confirmed that students who went to Washington a week earlier for similar purposes on a separately organized trip were not offered credit for doing so after the fact.
3. Administration of the grant program fell well short of USM’s high standards and expectations.
Dr. Susan Feiner who taught at USM for 23 years organized the Washington,DC trip. At the time, USM President Glen Cummings commented “Dr. Feiner acted in a very rogue manner. Her behavior was inappropriate. It was unacceptable.”