Help to Keep the University of Maine Survey Engineering Technology (SVT) Program Funded!

It has come to my attention that the University of Maine is proposing budget cuts in its Survey Engineering Technology (SVT) program, and I'd like your help in getting the University to change its mind. If these proposed budget cuts are implemented in this survey program it could have a huge negative impact on our profession and in our land surveying businesses, too. The following information sent to me explains in detail what the issue is, how to voice your opinion on this matter, and how to let the University of Maine know how important it is to you that this program remain fully funded.

Please read through this information so that you understand how dire and unacceptable a situation this is. Then, I ask you to take immediate action by using the contact information below to contact the University of Maine with your opinion on this plan! As a professional land surveyor and as president of the New England Section ACSM, I will be contacting the University of Maine to let them know:

  • How important this program is to me, as a professional land surveyor and a land surveying business owner,
  • How important this program is to the students who are the future of our industry, and
  • How this budget cut will impact our profession and industry locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Here's the background, contact information, and ideas on how you can help:

Friends & Alumni of SVT:

The University of Maine is currently considering plans for restructuring the University to save money.  Each college has been charged with eliminating up to 20% of its budget. To comply with the directive, the Dean has forecast the elimination of several faculty including one SVT faculty member.

We are writing to ask you to write to the President and stress the importance of a fully staffed SVT program. The relevant addresses for the President is the following (note sending by e mail is fine):

Dr. Robert Kennedy

President, University of Maine

5703 Alumni Hall, Suite 200
Orono, ME 04469

Phone: (207) 581-1512 | Fax: (207) 581-1517
E-mail:

Please cc letters to:

Dr. Susan Hunter

Senior Vice President and Provost, University of Maine

5703 Alumni Hall, Room 201
Orono, ME 04469

Phone: (207) 581-1547 | Fax: (207) 581-1633
E-mail:

Dr. Dana Humphrey

Dean, College of Engineering

5796 AMC Building, Room 200
Orono, Maine 04469

Phone: (207) 581-2216 | Fax: (207) 581-2220

E-mail: 

Dr. Scott Dunning

Director, School of Engineering Technology

5711 Boardman Hall, Room 119

Orono, Maine  04469

Phone: (207) 581-2340 | Fax: (207) 581-2311

E-mail: 

Short, concise, focused letters less than one page are probably better than long letters. Personal letters are helpful. However, given the strength of numbers and the focus on the economy, you are encouraged to write on behalf of a business or professional organization if you can do so. You can focus on any topic that is important to you. The following are some historical and present information that you can consider when preparing a letter.

The SVT program at the University of Maine is the only ABET accredited four-year surveying degree program in New England. Thirty years ago the land surveyors of all six New England states had a vision of designating one university in New England to offer a BS in land surveying, while each individual state would designate at least one college to offer an AS in land surveying.  Their thought was that students could get their AS in land surveying at their state school. Those graduates of the two-year program that excel and desire to continue their studies in surveying could then transfer to the four-year program as juniors.  Over 20 colleges and universities in New England submitted proposals to become the only school to offer a four-year BS in land surveying. The University of Maine was selected by the New England Surveying organizations.  For more than 20 years this system has been successful.  University of Maine graduates are now senior managers, owners, or principals of large and small surveying companies throughout New England and the United States.  The SVT program typically has students from every New England state who transfer in as juniors after getting an AS from their local surveying college.  To weaken or destroy the four-year program at the University of Maine will destroy this successful system.

An ABET accredited degree is required for licensure as a land surveyor in many states, with many states expected to adopt this requirement in the future. For years, New England Boards of Registration of Land Surveyors have been considering requiring that all applicants have a BS in land surveying.  In 2008-2009, Mane surveyors learned that the US Dept of Labor ruled that they were not members of a "learned profession" because Maine state statutes do not require surveyors to have a four-year degree in land surveying to be licensed.  Maine surveyors challenged that ruling and lost. If and when the six state Boards of Registration of land surveyors require that applicants have a BS in land surveying, the students would have to go out of New England to go to school to get a BS in land surveying.  This will be a serious blow to the land surveying profession in New England.  (Referring to Gibson's January 2010 article in Professional Surveyor.)

At least two faculty are almost certainly required for ABET accreditation. Therefore, the SVT program will almost certainly lose ABET accreditation if there is only one full-time faculty member. At the present time, Ray Hintz is 100% SVT, Carlton Brown is 75% SVT and 25% CMT, and Knud Hermansen is 25% SVT and 75% CMT for a total of two full time SVT faculty. As our numbers grow, an additional faculty will be necessary – not the loss of an existing faculty.

The second SVT faculty position was guaranteed by a contract between the University of Maine and the Surveying Educational Foundation of New England (SEFNE) based on number of students in the program and the donations provided by SEFNE.  The number of students continues to be satisfied, and the donations have been exceeded. Accordingly, the elimination of one SVT faculty would appear to be a breach of this agreement.

The SVT program, faculty, and students have made significant efforts to work with the profession. Consider some of the tangibles from this close relationship: SVT has received donations in excess of $100,000 toward the University of Maine Foundation for use in various named SVT scholarships. SVT has a funded foundation account in excess of $50,000 for a photogrammetry lab thanks to SEFNE. SVT has received vendor support in excess of $200,000 off retail prices in support of laboratory equipment and software. SVT faculty provide more than 20 seminars annually to federal, state, and private organizations. 98% of SVT graduates stay in New England and most of those participate in or own small businesses at some time during their professional careers. Many graduates serve on licensing boards, professional society executive committees, and professional committees.

The SVT program has provided an educational home to students from Saudi Arabia who wish to study surveying. These students supported by ARAMCO and pay considerable tuition to the University of Maine. The surveying program had several ARAMCO graduates in the past and currently have three enrolled in the program. SVT has hopes of doubling that number in the fall.

Currently the student to faculty ratio in SVT exceeds 30:1. This is above the maximum recommended by ABET accreditation standards.  At this time, the School of Engineering Technology where the SVT program resides generates sufficient tuition from enrollment to pay for faculty salaries.

Finally, it is commendable that SVT graduates get well-paying jobs that aid the economic growth of the state and region. It is hard to imagine economic growth that does not involve the profession of surveying. In a normal economy, many graduates will receive two and three different job offers. Even now, there are employment offers being made to students. The average starting salary of graduates is often in excess of starting salaries of teachers and far in excess of Liberal Arts graduates. Over the life of the alumni, the above average earning potential of the surveying graduate will add considerably to state revenue through income taxes alone. In simple terms, surveying students are good investments for the state to improve the economy and lead to economic growth.

I’ll close by encouraging you to write a letter and advocate for the SVT program. Your help will be appreciated.   The letters need to be received prior to April 23.

Thank you for your help and please pass this information on to all the surveyors and/or alumni you know so that they can also contact the University of Maine to keep the SVT program fully funded and intact.

Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

Posted in Associate Membership, Business, Continuing Education, Land Surveying, Professional Land Surveyor Practice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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  1. […] Help to Keep the University of Maine Survey Engineering Technology (SVT) Program Funded! (Please note that subsequent to the taping of this episode of the Professional Land Surveyor Podcast (PLSP) the University of Maine has agreed not to cut this budget. More to come on this in a new post and in the next PLSP episode) […]

  2. […] Help to Keep the University of Maine Survey Engineering Technology (SVT) Program Funded! (Please note that subsequent to the taping of this episode of the Professional Land Surveyor Podcast (PLSP) the University of Maine has agreed not to cut this budget. More to come on this in a new post and in the next PLSP episode) […]