Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

“This is my home now,” Dr. Harvey Kesselman announced as new USM president

Francis Flisiuk | The Free Press

Posted on March 11, 2015 in News, Uncategorized
By Francis Flisiuk, and Krysteana Scribner

During a press conference earlier today, USM’s administration excitedly announced that Dr. Harvey Kesselman will be the university’s next president, beginning July 1.

Kesselman expressed deep admiration for The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, his alma mater school and where he’s finishing up his final months as Provost and Executive Vice President, however he is enthusiastic to lead USM and has about 8 years of commitment in him.

“This is my home now,” said Kesselman. “I made a commitment here and this is the place I belong now.”

Kesselman’s plan is to ensure that USM doesn’t shrink under the potential pressure of budget problems as it did last year. He hopes to continue the focus that current situation president David Flanagan initiated: get more students in the door and find a way to keep them here.

“If we could retain even 400 more students, the fiscal problems diminish,” said Kesselman. “What we need to do as a community is to see what stops students from staying at USM. If we’re all working toward that goal I am convinced that the problems will take care of themselves.”

Kesselman believes the university is far too great of an institution to have a retention rate of 65 percent. Finding a solution to this issue will involve starting conversations with faculty, staff and students.

“I am going to spend a lot of time to meet every employee at the institution and immediately have relationships with the faculty senate,” said Kesselman. “I want their voice, it’s critical.”

Kesselman is optimistic that USM’s financial future is on a positive path because of the talents of people that he said are doing everything they can to ensure USM’s physical vitality.

“I’m comfortable in the matter in which we are moving forward will be one of the ways USM ensures long term vitality,” said Kesselman. “Fiscal decisions are critical to the success of any institution.”

Kesselman believes that there are a variety of factors that go into making USM a successful metropolitan university. From the  friendly and respectful students, beautiful locations and qualified faculty, he has high hopes that the school will outlast not only his presidency but many more after that. Kesselman also placed faith in the school’s metropolitan vision.

Kesselman said that when metropolitan universities begin, they are often aren’t well received. However, he also said that out of this tension will eventually come progress.

“Had the model not been here, I would not have applied,” said Kesselman. “I thought it was very attractive that USM was going in that direction.”

Kesselman wants to help USM get classified as one of the top community engagement universities in the U.S. by earning the Carnegie Distinction by 2019. The Carnegie Distinction is a prestige given to about 300 schools who are committed to making a local impact and social embeddedness.

“It will open up avenues for USM and make your degree more valuable,” said Kesselman. “We are trying to put theory into practice and that is what I plan to implement. We want engaged students and engaged faculty here at the university.”

University of Maine system chancellor James Page endorsed Kesselman as USM’s next president and said that he’s someone who knows the opportunities and pitfalls of higher education. Kesselman’s priorities around students, enrollment and growing the metropolitan concept played a large part in how they evaluated his candidacy.

“The metropolitan university is going to evolve in many ways that we don’t even see today as it unfolds and develops over the years,” said Page. “It will give the university strength and vision to move along and. Kesselman’s enthusiasm for the university and the state of Maine is high.”



  • Francis Flisiuk

    If anyone has any opinions they’d like to share with me about Dr. Kesselman’s appointment as USM president, please email me at francis@usmfreepress.org

  • John Q. Engineering Student

    I agree with Dr. Adjunct. The problems that plague USM are socially systemic. As most are well aware, the aggregate quality of education prior to secondary schooling has fallen and continues to do so. Couple this with the university’s dire need of financial capital and it’s not difficult to see how the education provided by the university will inevitably have to follow suit.

    How can this be avoided? I am unsure. I believe the focus on community based education is a positive thing that (as President Kesselman states) will add value to a degree from USM. This is crucial. Many faculty seem resistant to this change but they appear to forget how dynamic our world has become. For better or worse, education has become (by the hands of universities themselves) a for-profit business and this must be recognized. USM has close competitors which it must acknowledge to survive and this should come in the form of a better product. If USM can provide its students with a unique and valuable product that cannot be emulated in close vicinity and make that distinction well known to the public, it may help mitigate retention issues.

    Lastly, from a student’s perspective, the tenure model has become increasingly suspicious as a way for faculty to enjoy minimal work for comfortable salaries. I have witnessed this phenomenon in my own department and it absolutely crushes the desire to learn. Make no mistake, it is not something that goes unnoticed by students and once discovered it creates an environment of apathy and disinterest. Most harmful however is that it damages the legitimacy of the education I am receiving from the school. As one subject to this from multiple faculty members, it has left a bad taste in my mouth and it has made me all the more eager to leave the university with my degree as soon as possible. If the ability to transfer had presented itself, I would have already done so. However, my major is not offered at any other local institution.

  • Dr. Adjunct

    If President Kesselman wants to know what’s really going on at USM, in the classroom and outside of it, he needs to speak to the other half of the faculty – the adjuncts who teach 1st and 2nd year students.

    I regularly teach intro as well as 200 and 300 level courses at USM. My PhD is from a leading institution in my field. I’ve taught at a private university in Boston as well as at a community college. My students at USM, at all levels, tend to have very weak basic reading comprehension and writing skills. This starts with their high school education and being admitted by an institution that literally cannot say no to anyone’s tuition dollars.