Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

And Pattenaude says. Botman for USM president

Posted on March 10, 2008 in News
By Sarah Trent

Selma Botman will be recommended as the next president of USM at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday. The announcement came last week from the office of system Chancellor Richard Pattenaude.

Though the BOT must approve the recommendation, it is unlikely that they will go against Pattenaude’s decision, which came after hearing a report from the Presidential Search Committee in February that detailed results from surveys filled out by students, staff and faculty across all three campuses.

In a press release last Wednesday, Pattenaude explained his choice, saying that “Dr. Botman is an excellent fit for USM. She possesses exceptional academic and leadership well as a deep commitment to students and their success.”

Botman, 57, is currently the executive vice chancellor and university provost at the City University of New York, which serves 230,000 students and 6,300 faculty members.

During her campus visit, those who met her seemed unanimous in their feeling that Botman had student interests at the top of her agenda. One of the first things she said in a meeting in Gorham that was open to the public was that it’s her goal to “understand the challenges and successes of students and how we can help them achieve their goals and graduate.”

She went on to say that at CUNY, she’s “focusing attention on students-and that attention is reaping results.”

Paul Dexter, the director of the office of early student success, said after hearing the announcement that he was excited by her investment in student success. “I’m looking forward to talking to her about her successes (at CUNY) and how we’ve begun down that path. She’s got the experience to keep us going in the right direction.”

“She was high on my list,” said Dexter. Noting that she owns a house on Peaks Island and that her daughter went to Bates, he thought that the investment she already has in this state and making it better was one of the reasons she stood out.

“She has a personal stake being in Maine,” he said, “and that will serve USM well.”

Senior Marie Follayttar agreed that Botman’s diverse experience and connection to Maine will be good for USM. Follayttar referenced Botman’s experience in issues of academic freedom, student rights and activism and funding issues. “Some of that will be welcome in this environment,” she said.

But more than that, Follayttar is excited that USM’s next leader is going to be a woman.

“Now four of seven UMaine System presidents will be women. Since something like 60 percent of UMS are women, it’s nice to see an accurate reflection.”

Botman holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies and a doctoral degree in history and Middle Eastern studies, both from Harvard University. She earned her bachelor’s from Brandeis, and has a master’s of philosophy from Oxford University.

In addition to her work at CUNY, she has also held senior administrative and faculty positions in the University of Massachusetts system and at Holy Cross College.

One of the few questions people have about her ability to lead USM relates to the size of the schools she has overseen. CUNY has 230,000 students and a budget of more than $60 million. Some fear that it will be difficult for her to get used to our 10,400 students and ever-shrinking budget.

If the BOT approves Pattenaude’s recommendation, Botman will begin as USM’s president on July 1 and will receive an annual salary of $203,000. She will replace interim President Joe Wood, who took over last July when former President Pattenaude was named chancellor.

In the press release from Pattenaude last week, Botman says that she is excited to work with USM’s “superb faculty and staff and the wonderful students.”

“The University of Southern Maine is poised for greatness,” she said, “and I am tremendously excited by the prospect of working with the community toward realizing that future.”

The Board of Trustees meets Monday at USM’s Portland Campus. The meeting is at 3 p.m. on the 7th floor of the Glickman Library. It is open to the public and will cover everything discussed in committee meetings throughout the day, including the presidential appointment.

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