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February 15, 2018

Search for UMaine president narrows to four finalists

Courtesy / University of Maine
Courtesy / University of Maine
Four finalists have been selected in the search for a successor to Susan Hunter, president of the University of Maine's flagship campus in Orono, who will be leaving her position on June. 30.

Four finalists have been named in the search for a successor to Susan Hunter, who became the first woman to serve as president of UMaine in July 2014 and announced almost two years ago her plans to step down on June 30, 2018.

The finalists who will be making campus visits between Feb. 20 and March 2 are:

  • Amit Chakma, president and vice chancellor of the University of Western Ontario
  • Joan Ferrini-Mundy, chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation
  • Sally Reis, who holds the Letitia Neag Morgan Endowed Chair in Educational Psychology and is a board of trustees distinguished professor at the University of Connecticut
  • Nancy Targett, provost of the University of New Hampshire.

The four were selected from among 67 applicants in a national search that began early last fall.

"I am pleased that we are able to announce such a strong field of finalists," says Gregory Johnson, chairman of the 18-member UMaine President Search Committee and a member of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. "Each brings a wealth of professional experience, strong leadership skills, and the vision to successfully lead UMaine during this time of dynamic change in public higher education, workforce development and increasingly fierce enrollment competition."

Johnson said the search for the next UMaine president is important given that UMaine, as Maine's land grant and sea grant university, has a statewide mandate that reaches into all 16 counties.

"It is the largest and only research university in the state," he said. "UMaine's success is inextricably linked to the future economic success of the state and the well-being of all its citizens. UMaine plays a major role in educating the state's future workforce, in developing its future leaders, and using its world-class faculty and very substantial research capacity to find innovative solutions to the state's most vexing challenges."

Next steps in the selection process

Faculty, students, staff and community members are invited to attend open sessions with the candidates and to submit feedback on their potential to serve as president.

In addition to the open meetings, candidates will meet with the chancellor, board of trustees chair, UMaine president's cabinet, University of Maine System leadership staff and representatives of the University of Maine board of visitors, UMaine Alumni Association and University of Maine Foundation. Each candidate also will visit the University of Maine at Machias and attend an open session, meet with the leadership team, and visit with the UMM Board of Visitors.

Chancellor Jim Page is expected to make a recommendation to the board of trustees in March.

"The search committee has been working toward this day for the past five months," Johnson said. "We hope to see many people turn out to give us feedback about the candidates and to show them the great level of interest in the selection of our UMaine president."

Short bios of the four finalists

Amit Chakma: Currently president and vice chancellor at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, a position he has held since 2009. He also is professor of chemical engineering at Western. He was previously academic vice president and provost at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, from 2001–09.

Chakma earned a doctorate degree in chemical engineering from the University of British Columbia and will be visiting UMaine March 1–2.

Joan Ferrini-Mundy: Currently chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation. She has been at NSF since 2007, serving in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources in roles including assistant director from 2011 to January 2017. Prior to her work at NSF, Ferrini-Mundy held academic and leadership positions at Michigan State University and the University of New Hampshire. She earned a doctorate degree in mathematics education from the University of New Hampshire and will be visiting UMaine Feb. 26–27

Sally Reis: Served as vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut from 2011–17. She holds the Letitia Neag Morgan Endowed Chair in Educational Psychology and is a Board of Trustees distinguished professor at the University of Connecticut. She was department head of the educational psychology program from 2000–06. Reis holds a doctorate degree in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut and will be visiting UMaine Feb. 22–23

Nancy Targett: Provost of the University of New Hampshire, where she has served since 2016. She previously served at the University of Delaware from 1984–2016, including roles as acting president; dean of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment; director of the Sea Grant College Program; associate dean, program director of marine biology-biochemistry; and faculty member. Targett holds a doctorate degree in oceanography from the University of Maine and will be visiting UMaine Feb. 20–21.

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