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UMA president resigns, faculty hopes for stability and change

On Tuesday, April 11, the University of Maine at Augusta president James Conneely announced his resignation after serving for less than two years. This is the fourth president to leave the University since September of 2014.

“Regrettably, I must inform you that I have tendered my resignation as President of UMA effective June 30, 2017,” Conneely said in his resignation, “I wish UMA much success in serving Maine and its people.”

James Page, the University of Maine System Chancellor, visited UMA on Thursday and offered possible leadership options to a group of campus employees that were concerned about the future and stability of the university.

Many fear that the system will launch an expedited search to hire a new president to take over after Conneely and hire from a limited pool of applicants, potentially missing out on a perfect fit. Another option that the University has is to bring in a temporary leader for a one-to-two year term in order to have enough time to find a permanent replacement.

While the loss comes as a shock to many, some faculty members were not all that upset. Many said that they felt that Conneely was not a “good fit” as a leader and that their mission and finances had suffered throughout his term.

It has been suggested by some faculty at UMA that Rebecca Wyke, the system’s vice chancellor for finance and administration could fill this position. In 2015, Wyke led UMA while the university searched for the position that Conneely eventually filled.

Conneely has had previous experience working as the President at Notre Dame of Maryland University of Baltimore as well as an Associate Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs at Eastern Kentucky University and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at the University of Arkansas. The University of Maine at Augusta is different from many of these universities as there are no living options available on campus.

Brenda McAleer, the associate provost at UMA, has concerns about a potential partnership deal with the Augusta campus with another UMS campus, referring to the recent partnership between the University of Maine in Orono and Machias. McAleer’s concern is that a “nontraditional” situation could damage UMA.

Page is looking for a solution that would work and mentioned that each campus has their own individual mission and issues that could make potential partnerships less than ideal. In May, there will be a UMS Board of Trustees meeting where Page hopes to have a leadership plan in place in order to propose an interim leader before Conneely leaves in June.

As for now, the University of Maine in Augusta is focused on stability and hoping for a future leader that will bring positive change to the community. Conneely will leave his position on June 30.

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