USM Faculty Senate urges UMaine system to retain Cummings as president


University of Southern Maine professors urge the University of Maine system to retain their current president before his scheduled departure next year, citing his contributions and leadership and expressing concern over the disruption a change would bring .

At a special faculty Senate session last week, a resolution was passed, 29-0, asking the Chancellor of the System and the Board of Trustees to negotiate a multi-year contract with President Glenn Cummings, who said that he planned to resign at the end of June. 2022 to return to a teaching position.

“We want to preserve what was nurtured and established by Dr. Cummings,” Shelton Waldrep, president of the Faculty’s Senate, said in a statement. Losing leadership now – in the midst of a fundraising campaign, a reimagining of our urban campus, and the strong growth of the student experience – is not only counterintuitive, but potentially damaging to the reputation of the university.”

When asked to elaborate on the reasons for the resolution, Waldrep said he couldn’t say much beyond his statement in Monday’s press release. Cummings, in response to a question about whether he had been asked to resign, said the decision to leave was his and that what he felt was best for him and his family.

The resolution praises Cummings for “putting USM on the path to success that includes $ 150 million in philanthropic giving, some of which is used to transform the physical plant on the Portland campus” and notes that the university has achieved “seven consecutive balanced budgets and increased reserves to just under $ 7 million.”

He says under Cummings, who has served as president since 2015, the retention rate has improved and the number of incoming and international students has increased. The resolution also notes that the president of the University of Maine at Augusta resigned four months ago So there is already a leadership search underway within the system.

University of Southern Maine president Glenn Cummings has announced he will step down at the end of the year and take on a teaching role at the university. Derek Davis / Personal Photographer

“Changing the leadership of USM during major campus projects and a global pandemic will disrupt, disorient and demoralize not only the USM community but the system as a whole,” says the resolution.

In a brief interview Monday afternoon, Cummings said the decision to step down as president for a professorship was “my decision and my decision exclusively.”

“I felt the time was right,” he said. “I wanted to leave on a good note. I felt it was the right thing for me and my family.

Cummings said the faculty’s resolution was “very heartwarming,” but he was comfortable with the decision.

“I don’t think it’s likely,” he said. “Obviously the board is my employer so if they wanted to speak, sure I would be willing to listen, but that doesn’t change my position. It was something I took a long time to figure out and it was personal and private and it felt good to me. “

Cummings earns a salary of $ 280,205 and his current contract runs until June 30, 2022. The initial appointments of all presidents in the UMaine system are typically two years and are then renewed annually on a “progressive” basis, said Dan Demeritt, System Spokesperson.

The board is expected to consider Cummings’ request to step down as USM president and return to the faculty at a special meeting on Wednesday and his salary as a faculty member would be determined after that request was approved. .

“President Cummings has informed Chancellor Malloy and the board that he believes leaving the USM presidency and returning to faculty is in his and USM’s best interests,” Demeritt said in a statement. communicated. “We all share the appreciation of the USM Faculty Senate for Glenn’s leadership and service.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the UMS Board of Trustees will consider approving President Cummings’ request to resign, authorizing Chancellor Malloy to work with President Cummings on the terms of his return to faculty and launch a national presidential research, led by a research committee that will include three USM faculty members to ensure an orderly transition to new leadership for the university at the end of this academic year. ”

Cummings’ decision to step down as president comes at a time of transformation and growth for USM. The Promise Scholars program, which helps first-generation students graduate in four years without going into debt, has built an endowment of nearly $ 9 million since its official launch in 2017. The university has also seen growth of its Honors and Early College programs, the latter of which has nearly tripled in size since 2015.

Cummings initiated the largest construction project in USM history – a $ 100 million, 580-bed residence and 42,000-square-foot career and student success center on the Portland campus – which will be completed in 2023.

In June, the university announced a $ 5 million donation from the Crewe Foundation to support the construction of an arts center, also in Portland, followed last month by a donation of $ 10 million to help build a new house for the music school. .

Waldrep said he couldn’t say much more about the circumstances surrounding Monday’s resolution other than that Cummings’ departure is something of great concern to the Faculty Senate and that they hope to convince the board directors and the chancellor to try to keep him as president.

“Why would a president one day wake up and decide to go back to college when there is so much success that he has established?” Waldrep said.

Eve Raimon, an English professor and member of the faculty’s Senate, echoed Waldrep’s concerns, but said she also couldn’t say more about the reason for the resolution. “The Faculty Senate believes there is every reason for the Board of Trustees and Chancellor to strive to keep President Cummings in office on the basis of a multi-year contract,” Raimon said.

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