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‘This is a real match:’ Final visiting candidate boasts long career

Sam Hill | The Free Press

Posted on March 02, 2015 in News
By Sam Hill

Harvey Kesselman, the last presidential candidate to visit USM, cited his long history of experience in higher education and the challenges he’s overcome at transforming school at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey as why he’d be a good fit for USM.

“This is a real match,” said Kesselman, who currently serves as provost and executive vice president at Richard Stockton. “It’s exactly the kind of university I’m looking to work for and understand. I feel like I’m a good fit.”

Kesselman said he’s at a point in his career where becoming a university president is the obvious next step. Before his current position, he has held senior level positions including dean and professor of education, interim vice president for administration and finance, special assistant to the president and vice president for student affairs. His experience at Richard Stockton spans over 30 years and he’s been committed to teaching on top of his other duties.

“I haven’t checked them out, but I doubt the other candidates have the breadth of experience that I do,” said Kesselman. “You can only gain that by committing to a single institution for a considerable amount of time.”

Kesselman told a small crowd of students and staff that he has experience in successfully dealing with challenges that USM and the UMaine System is currently facing. Working to transform a campus culture and boost community engagement and service learning while battling low state funding, declining enrollment and bleak demographics is a situation he’s familiar with.

According to Kesselman, his college and New Jersey gets only 12 percent of its funding from the state government, less than half of the percentage USM receives.

“We’d love to get the percentage you’ve had,” said Kesselman. “We had to be entrepreneurs. We went through what Maine is going through right now years ago.”

The revolving door of leadership, which has given USM three presidents since 2012, is something Kesselman noted as problematic for the university. Citing his long history at Richard Stockton, Kesselman told the group that he was not planning on being a short-term fix, but wanted to be a real piece of the university. He said that if chosen for the position, he has at least eight years of service in him.

“You never know what’s going to happen, but I like to think George Washington got it right,” said Kesselman. “Two terms, eight years as president, feels right. it makes for good business to do so.”