By: Haley Hersey, News Editor
Former Director of Intercultural Student Affairs, previously known as Intercultural Student Engagement, William “Will” Johnson put his resignation in around October 5 or 6, but his last day at the University of Southern Maine was November 29.
“By me staying a little longer, that gave more time to look at a job description and search process,” said Johnson. It also helped limit the time without a director. Due to Johnson staying through November, it’ll be three weeks without one, but then winter break will give the university time to search for a replacement. Johnson said they are working on a draft of the job description.
Johnson said, “The movement is there to get a new director and a replacement there.” He also said there have been other instrumental staff who have recently left the university as well.
“Students benefited so much from the individuals who have left USM in the last month or so time frame, and it really comes down to resources. I definitely hope in general, we take a deep dive into how are we supporting our faculty and staff. How are we ensuring we see their value and appreciation? It’s great hearing you’re appreciated, but what matters is pay and professional development and opportunities for growth,” he said.
Of those who have left in the last month or so are Anna Schwarts and Marc Roy. According to her LinkedIn profile, Schwartz left her role as USM’s Director of Orientation & Transitional Programs in November. She had been in the role since August 2017. The same is true for Roy who was USM’s Coordinator of Intramural and Club Sports since September 2018.
“Marc completely created and implemented the Intramural sports program,” said Johnson. “They (some members of upper leadership at USM) don’t truly understand or appreciate the value of an individual until they see what needs to be done and they see all that individual was doing.”
“I know they (the people who have left) will be okay,” said Johnson. “That’s another reason to hold onto the people we have, because the talent is going to find opportunities. We should always be doing our best to keep them here. I do hope USM is paying attention.”
The reason for Johnson’s departure from USM “was definitely a mixture of things,” he said. “A lot of the job required a lot of self sacrifice of a personal life in order to do the job and to do it well. Higher ed at this point, isn’t really able to give you what you put into it.”
Johnson did say that being there for students has always been something he enjoys, but the political aspects of it weigh on you for a while. “There are so many other ways I can make an impact on others’ lives, without sacrificing so much to do it. I realized what really mattered at the end of the day, that is my integrity and state of mind. I realized I didn’t need to be in this job to do that (having an impact).”
He said that being there for students adequately requires a lot of resources, and that getting those resources is always a struggle. “Some, not all, of upper leadership doesn’t fully understand what it takes to run student affairs. There isn’t always enough comprehension about what student affairs is and what student affairs does to get the needed resources.”
He described that struggle as a “losing battle.”
When asked what is next for him, Johnson said, “For me I do have some great opportunities that are not public or official yet, I do have some great opportunities on the horizon with the resources I need. For right now I am just enjoying life and taking a little break from higher ed. I’m doing the things I am passionate about. One of my dreams was to work for Apple, which is an amazing company. That’s where I am now, I’ve been there for six weeks.”
“At the end of the day, I am appreciative of the opportunity and everything I’ve done at USM. There are a few projects I am passionate about at USM that I will continue to work on on a volunteer basis,” said Johnson. He will continue to volunteer his time for the Bias Response Team amongst others.
“I’ll still be around, I’m excited that it will be my own journey,” he said. “I’m not leaving the university angry or bitter.”
Johnson has learned a lot from his time at USM. “I would say for any person, the value of who you are as a person does not lay in the work you do or the title you hold. You have value as a person by simply existing,” said Johnson. “For me it was all about choosing joy and to keep all of the things that I found special.”