UMaine System creates committee to find next president for University of Southern Maine

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Dec. 4—The University of Maine System has selected 17 members to serve on a committee that will select the next president of the University of Southern Maine.

Current President Glenn Cummings, who has led the school since 2015, announced in October he was stepping down at the end of the academic year in June. He will return to a faculty position.

The search committee of students, faculty, staff, alumni and other constituencies will be chaired by James Erwin, a system trustee, according to a news release sent Friday. The committee will work with a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm called Academic Search to help find candidates.

"Our search process will be thorough, inclusive, equitable and orderly, with multiple opportunities for input," Erwin said in a statement. "On behalf of the board of trustees, I want to express my gratitude to those who have agreed to serve on the search committee and to those who take the time to provide us with input and perspective. I look forward to a successful search to find the next leader of USM."

The committee anticipates interviewing finalists in early March and a new president will be selected by April.

The University of Southern Maine has campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston/Auburn and is one of seven colleges under the University of Maine System umbrella.

Cummings drew praise from the academic and business communities for transforming USM, which was struggling before his arrival. Enrollment — from out-of-state students, especially — and fundraising have both grown substantially during his tenure.

His decision to step away from the presidency comes amid a period of transformation and growth for USM. The Promise Scholars program, which helps first-generation students graduate in four years without debt, has built an endowment of nearly $9 million since its formal launch in 2017. The university also has seen growth in its Honors and Early College programs, the latter of which has nearly tripled in size since 2015.

Cummings launched the largest construction project in USM history — a $100 million, 580-bed residence hall and 42,000-square-foot Career and Student Success Center on the Portland campus — that will be completed in 2023.

In June, the university announced a $5 million gift from the Crewe Foundation to support construction of a Center for the Arts, also in Portland, and that was followed last month by a $10 million gift to help build a new home for the school of music.

Cummings was so popular among some that faculty members tried to persuade the system to retain Cummings by passing a resolution in late October, but that proved unsuccessful. In an interview with the Press Herald when he announced his decision, Cummings said he simply felt it was time for him to move on.

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