By: Riley Mayes, Web Editor
President Glen Cummings of the University of Southern Maine announced in October 2021 his decision to step down from his role to return to a faculty position on July 1 of 2022. Since then, USM has initiated an ongoing search to find a new president for the university.
The search committee includes 17 members representing faculty, students, staff, the Board of Visitors, alumni, and community members.
Brianna Demaso, a junior at USM majoring in Business Management and Marketing, is serving as the primary undergraduate representative of the USM Presidential Search Committee.
She was nominated by the Student Government Association to provide a student voice in the decision-making process.
“It’s been great to be involved in this opportunity and act as a voice for students, as best as I can,” Demaso said. “We have such a diverse population that it is difficult for us to narrow what every individual would want.”
According to Demaso, the search has embodied the university’s goal of “Student Focused Every Day” through measures such as including representatives from the student government and issuing surveys to the student body regarding each candidate.
Some students have expressed concerns that the search process has not been accessible or inclusive enough. Katherine Mueller, a sophomore Biochemistry major, shared that she was unable to attend the forums. “They were scheduled in the middle of the day, and I have class,” she said. “I feel like students should have more of a collaborative role in this process to be able to make an informed decision, rather than scheduling forums in the middle of the day,” she said.
James Erwin, the Chair of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees member said the search committee tried to involve the community while being sensitive to the fact that the candidates may not want to publicly announce they are looking for a new position. “I’m sympathetic to these complaints, but what can you do? This is very similar to how it’s been done across all campuses,” he said, “But anyone who has been interested has had multiple opportunities to be exposed to the candidates. I’m not at all worried about that.”
When asked if he had attended the forums, Erwin said that he had not been able to attend all of them and cited his work as a barrier. “I have a full-time job,” he said. “I’ve dedicated a lot of time to this search. I had the candidates over to my house for dinner,”
As of April 7, four candidates have been disclosed to the public. Dr. Jacqueline Edmondon is an educator at Penn State University. Her research has focused on rural communities, public policy, and popular culture.
Dr. Jennifer E. Orlikoff is completing her sixth year as campus president of West Virginia University-Potomac State College. Prior to her appointment there as a chief administrative officer, Dr. Orlikoff served the Morgantown campus as Director of the WVU Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and as an Academic Leadership Fellow in the Provost’s office.
Dr. Karim Ismaili is Executive Vice President and Provost at Bridgewater State University (BSU). There, he serves as co-chair of the university-wide Strategic Enrollment Management Group and Chair of Leadership Council, leads two COVID-19 Task Forces, and oversees the implementation of recommendations from the BSU Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice.
Timothy D. Pinnow is the Senior Vice-President for Strategic Initiatives at Colorado Mesa University. Prior to this position, he served for six years as the institution’s Head of the Department of Theater Arts.
The Search Committee aims to select and publicly introduce the new president within the next few weeks.
More information about the candidates can be found on the USM website.