UPDATED: 3:58 p.m., Friday, May 28
In the wake of Provost Kate Forhan’s Wednesday announcement that she would resign this month, the university today named John Wright, dean of the School of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology, as interim provost.
The Board of Trustees will vote on Wright’s two year appointment at their meeting in July, but Wright will take over Forhan’s duties on June 14.
USM President Selma Botman made the announcement today in a letter to the community. She said UMS Chancellor Richard Pattenaude approved Wright as interim provost. She said the school plans to conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement in the 2011-2012 school year.
“I appreciate John’s willingness to step forward at a time of great change and even greater opportunity. We are at a crucial point in the history of this university,” Botman said. “John is USM’s senior academic dean whose ten years of experience will be a tremendous asset to the university as it embarks on the exciting next stage of its academic life.”
Forhan, a key player in the development of the plan to consolidate USM’s schools and colleges, announced on Wednesday her resignation, effective June 1. She held the post for just over a year.
Forhan made the announcement in a letter co-authored with USM President Selma Botman. In the letter, they wrote that the challenge of restructuring the university generated “extraordinarily complex and difficult demands on the executive leadership team.”
“Under these circumstances, it is not uncommon for a president and provost to have differences,” they said.
The letter did not elaborate on the nature of the differences.
“It is really not fair to get into that in any detail other than to say that differences are only natural given this challenging environment in higher education,” Botman said in an e-mail Thursday.
Forhan declined to comment on Friday, saying only that she had “a different outlook” from Botman. She said Wright was a good choice for her replacement. “I think the university is in really good hands,” she said.
Forhan’s resignation came a day after the University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved the plan that will consolidate USM’s eight colleges into five. The plan was drafted by a committee of eight faculty and administrators over the Spring semester. Forhan oversaw the writing of the plan.
USM spokesman Bob Caswell said Forhan’s resignation will not have any effect on the plan’s implementation.
“The whole thing will move ahead as proposed,” he said. “The restructuring is really going to be managed and overseen by three people: the president, the provost and the chief operating officer.”
“[Forhan] has served a valuable leadership role in moving these and other initiatives forward,” Botman said in the statement. “I accept Kate’s resignation with gratitude for the work she has done, and wish her all the best. I am confident that she will continue to make valuable contributions to the academic life of this university as a member of the USM faculty.”
As the provost, Forhan serves as USM’s chief academic officer and is responsible for overseeing USM’s eight schools and colleges.
The Board of Trustees confirmed the appointment of Forhan on Jan 12, 2009. She started at USM on April 1 of that year.
Forhan previously served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Before that, she served as a faculty member in political science at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., for 17 years, and directed the Siena Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. In the 1970s, she was a lecturer in English and American civilization at a post-baccalaureate college on the campus of the University of Bordeaux in France.
Forhan earned her Ph.D. in political science from The Johns Hopkins University and her B.A. and M.A degrees from the University of California.
Forhan will be on sabbatical until Dec. 31. After that, she said she intends to stay at USM as a faculty member.