PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- University of Maine System Chancellor James Page announced Wednesday that Dr. Glenn Cummings is the new President of the University of Southern Maine.
"Like a Maine spring, USM is slowly and beautifully emerging from a dark winter," said incoming USM President Glenn Cummings. "I am honored to be asked to serve at one of New England's best universities during this powerful transition."
Cummings is currently the Interim President at the University of Maine at Augusta, a Portland resident, former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and long-serving member of the USM faculty. He is slated to begin on July 1, 2015.
However, Cummings was not the first selection; he was one of two finalists for the job. The other finalist, Dr. Harvey Kesselman, accepted back in March as USM President. This week he decided to remain as acting president at Stockton University in New Jersey. Kesselman was also supposed to begin July 1.
"Maine must have a vital, committed, successful University of Southern Maine," said Chancellor James Page. "I know that USM's future is bright and I have every confidence that President Glenn Cummings will be the leader to build on USM's existing strengths and to realize the enormous potential and promise that is the University of Southern Maine."
Cummings takes over the top spot after a tough year at USM, which saw several programs eliminated and more than 50 faculty positions cut, leading to protests by students, staff and faculty. The school was facing a $16 million dollar budget deficit due to declining enrollments. Cummings said the University has a bright future, but the school is not out of the woods just yet.
"There will be tough decisions ahead and I appreciate the nice guy comments but unfortunately the common welfare has to come first and more important that anyone's popularity and I need to be, unfortunately, clear about that," Cummings said.
Cummings said more reductions are likely at the school over the next year and the scope of them will have a lot to do with enrollment numbers between now and September.
Cummings was selected as a finalist for the presidency following an eight month national search process that resulted in an applicant pool of 80 candidates and campus visits in February where hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members engaged in discussions with three presidential finalists.
Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond's office released a statement Wednesday morning regarding the news of Cumming's new position.
"Congratulations to Glenn Cummings on his new endeavor as President of USM. His leadership, commitment, and understanding of Maine's education system is an asset to USM and to Portland. Students and faculty alike have a champion in Glenn. He has the skills and relationships to take USM to its full potential."
House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport released this statement regarding the appointment of Glenn Cummings as President of the University of Southern Maine:
"Having worked with Glenn on his successes at Good Will-Hinckley, I'm confident he can provide the same type of leadership as President for the University of Southern Maine. As a USM graduate, it is my hope that this appointment will lead to stability and continue to build upon USM's growing reputation and potential for a great urban campus."