By Haley Hersey, News Editor
In a press release on October 5, it was announced that “University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings has decided to step down as president at the end of June 2022 after the conclusion of the current academic year.” Cummings final day as President will be June 30, 2022.
University of Maine System (UMS) Chancellor Dannel Malloy’s response was shared in the same press release. Malloy said, “I respect President Cummings’ request to leave the USM presidency on a high note and return to the faculty. He can be proud of the legacy he’s built throughout his presidency to position the University of Southern Maine for further success in the University of Maine System. In all the time I’ve known him, Glenn has never wavered in his focus on USM’s students and their success. On behalf of all of UMS, I want to thank him for his service and leadership.”
Mark Gardner, chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees and a graduate of the University of Southern Maine said in response to Cummings stepping down, “During his time at USM, President Cummings – along with the USM faculty and staff – has changed the lives of thousands of students for the better. The University of Southern Maine is dynamic and diverse, and an important part of the university system and the Gorham, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland communities.”
In the same press release, Student Body President Hussein Mao said, “President Cummings has been an incredible ally to the Student Government Association during these unprecedented times. His fortitude and commitment to students exemplify what it really means to be a university president. His dedication to putting students first has made the University of Southern Maine a welcoming environment for many students, including myself.”
Cummings had goals when he started at USM. He said, “When I arrived in 2015, I promised the students, faculty, staff, and the community I would serve for 5 years to provide the institution stability as it worked to revive from a tough time in its history. I am now facing my seventh year as President and when I took a step back to reassess where I am in life and where the University now stands, I felt it was the right decision for a change.”
“We have reached highs in enrollment and fundraising, we’ve balanced our budgets and broken ground on transformative projects, we’ve lowered student debt and done a lot for the state and region,” said Cummings.
“I am very excited to return to faculty next year in our Muskie school, continuing how my career started teaching students,” he said.
No stranger to politics, Cummings served President Obama’s administration in 2010 as Deputy Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Education. With this role, he helped manage a $1.9 billion budget. Cummings has also served in the Maine House of Representatives as Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, and Chairman of the state’s Joint Committee of Education and Cultural Affairs. In the committee he sponsored the successful bill to create the state community college system.
When asked about the potential to return to politics, Cummings said, “I’ve made promises to my wife and my family and I will not be throwing my hat back in the political ring outside of the school board. I will evaluate my options at the right time but for right now I am excited to spend this final year as President.”
Cummings attended the University of Pennsylvania for his Doctorate in Higher Education Management. Prior to that, he attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and obtained his Masters of Public Administration. At Brown University, Cummings earned his Masters of Arts in Teaching. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Before becoming President at USM, Cummings worked in Gorham as a high school history teacher and department head. Following that, he was a faculty member at Southern Maine Community College. Most recently at USM, Cummings was an assistant professor of Educational Leadership. He taught for the masters and doctoral programs. At one point, he also served as interim President at the University of Maine at Augusta.
Cummings also served as President and Executive Director of Good Will-Hinckley organization. According to his biography on the USM website, under his direction and leadership, the “organization used a $10.5 million philanthropic contribution from the Harold Alfond Foundation to create the first charter school in Maine history, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences.”
“USM is and always will be close to my heart. From my grandmother graduating from the Gorham Normal School in 1927 to starting as an adjunct professor of economics in 1997, I’ve seen unprecedented change, resolve and perseverance, and values you won’t find on any other campuses around the world,” said Cummings. “It’s been an honor to serve USM and I am excited to see where it will go next.”