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UMaine presidential search kicks off with student and faculty sessions

During the past week, the University of Maine kicked off the presidential search. The process began on Wednesday, when an open discussion was held for faculty members to give their input on what they hope to see in the next president.

The position will be vacant, as UMaine’s current president, Susan Hunter, will be retiring after 30 years of service. Hunter was the first female president among UMaine’s 19 former presidents.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, a discussion was open to students. The discussion was mediated by Shelly Storbeck and Ethan Dubow, both members of the search committee. It was immediately clear what the students hope to see in the future president: one that is open-minded, willing to listen to the students’ concerns and act on them appropriately, one that advocates strongly for social justice and has a deep love and admiration for the campus and community.

“There’s a lot of positivity on this campus,” Emily Craig, a fourth-year student at UMaine, said. “The whole population is great. When I came here as a prospective student, I felt safe here. We have a very big and very unique relationship and influence with the state. This is a big position with positive consequences, and we are currently at this turning point with so much potential.”

Another concern that many students shared was the lack of resources that are provided to the international students. Some faculty expressed this concern and also mentioned that much of the job as university president is to fundraise. They feel that much attention goes toward recruiting international students, but not as much attention goes toward supporting them.

The search committee is chaired by Trustee Gregory “Grog” Johnson, a UMaine alumnus. “It is a profound honor and privilege to serve on this committee, let alone to chair it.”

“This job is a great commitment. Many students and faculty mentioned their interest that included that the next president needs to understand the culture and community as well as the uniqueness of Maine and appreciate it,” Tracy Bigney, a Special Assistant for Executive Employment, said.

The hiring process takes months to complete through multiple phases. Right now, the university is in the sessions phase with those who are interested in voicing their opinions.

When talking about what he would like to see in the next president, Trustee Johnson began, “UMaine needs someone is a good communicator and can work collaboratively with the UMaine System. The System will not be successful if this university is not successful.”

The whole selection process will take months to complete. The university is anticipating roughly 100 applicants. In the early process of the search, things are very private until an announcement that will come out in January, where the top three to four finalists will be on campus for visits. During these visits, students will be able to meet these finalists and ask questions and get to know the applicants.

Between now and the January announcement, Johnson is the only voice for the committee. Whenever new information comes out that the public can know, he will be the one to distribute the information. The next president should be selected in March, and will begin the position in July.

President Hunter will be finishing her time as University President on June 30, 2018.

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