Former L.L.Bean senior VP picked to lead Maine Center Ventures

BY James McCarthy

Courtesy / University of Maine System
Courtesy / University of Maine System
UMaine Chancellor James H. Page introduced Theresa (Terry) Sutton as the new CEO of Maine Center Ventures at today's UMaine System board of trustees meeting.

The University of Maine System has picked a seasoned Maine business leader with a strong entrepreneurial background to be the first ongoing CEO of Maine Center Ventures, a new tax-exempt entity developed as part of Maine Center for Graduate and Professional Studies.
UMaine Chancellor James H. Page introduced Theresa (Terry) Sutton as CEO at today’s board of trustees meeting at the University of Maine. Sutton is a former senior vice president for business transformation at L.L.Bean, where she successfully led enterprise-wide, cross-functional change at the $1 billion-plus Freeport outdoor retailer. She also held executive positions at Portland-area employers WEX Inc. and CashStar.
The mission of Maine Center Ventures, as outlined when the Maine Center initiative was launched almost two years ago, is to expand partnerships and strengthen the responsiveness of the UMaine System’s graduate and professional programs to Maine’s civic, business and legal communities. Last summer the Harold Alfond Foundation announced a $7.5 million challenge grant to the University of Maine System to support the Maine Center, the largest private gift to a multi-campus effort in the system’s history.
Grant resources are being invested in a number of activities including the development of relevant academic programming, assessments of market demand, and the creation of Maine Center Ventures to respond more nimbly to student and employer needs.

Sutton, a resident of Portland, was selected following an extensive national executive search.
In its news release, the UMaine System stated that Sutton’s track record of entrepreneurial accomplishment included “helping guide Maine-based technology and e-commerce startups through periods of dynamic growth and acquisition.”
She holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her Maine-based public service includes serving as a former trustee of the University of Maine System, a board member of the Preble Street Resource Center and the executive committee co-chair of the Maine Math and Science Alliance.
“Terry is an accomplished Maine business executive, entrepreneur and highly regarded leader who understands Maine’s economic landscape,” Page said. “She has led change across large Maine enterprises and driven growth in developing companies. We are very pleased to put Terry’s skills and enthusiasm for the Maine Center initiative to work, engaging our faculty and helping to leverage their talents so that, working closely with our employer partners, we can build a stronger workforce and create competitive opportunity and advantages for Maine businesses.”
Page said Sutton will lead Maine Center Ventures’ efforts to develop cross-disciplinary graduate education and professional training programs that will respond to Maine companies’ workforce needs and help them “to grow and compete in today’s global marketplace.”
Bobby Monks, a Maine entrepreneur who is leading fundraising efforts for Maine Center Ventures, characterized Sutton as well suited to address those challenges.
“No matter the industry — you can build hotels or bill by the hour — the competition and pace of economic change facing Maine employers has never been more severe,” Monks said. “The Maine Center Initiative is a unique opportunity to achieve ongoing alignment between the programs and services of our public university system and the workforce needs of Maine’s employers. Terry Sutton has the right business experience, the leadership skills and the devotion to public service needed to serve as the first on-going CEO of Maine Center Ventures.”

Sutton begins work immediately with a focus on engaging with leaders of campus-based programs and UMaine System faculty.
“We have all the pieces in place to achieve cutting-edge innovation in graduate and professional education in Maine,” she said. “We have a talented and committed public university faculty, the engagement of Maine’s professional and business community, and the support of philanthropic, community and University leaders. Maine Center Ventures, which I am honored to now lead, was created to serve as liaison among these stakeholders and as a catalyst for change."
The phased multi-year plan for the Maine Center includes combining the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine Masters in Business Administration programs into a single MBA program within the new Maine Graduate School of Business. The appointment of J. Michael Weber as the inaugural dean of the new Graduate School of Business was announced at the end of the academic year.
The Maine Center also will bring the University of Maine School of Law and the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service graduate programs and its Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy together as a unique consortium to maximize cross-disciplinary opportunities for students.
The Compliance Certificate Program, first offered by the University of Maine School of Law in the 2017-2018 academic year, is seen as a template for the type of workforce engagement and innovation that will be developed as part of the consortium. Developed in partnership between USM’s Maine Regulatory Training and Ethics Center and the Maine School of Law, the Compliance Certificate Program delivers executive education to professionals across Maine’s business, not-for-profit, and government sectors — giving them, according to UMaine’s release, “the background and skills needed to navigate the modern regulatory landscape.”
Additional early initiatives of Maine Center Ventures and the programs brought together under the Maine Center initiative include:

  • Co-sponsorship of the 2018 Information Privacy Summer Institute at Maine Law
  • The 2018 Arctic Summer Institute with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and Maine Law’s Center for Ocean and Coastal Law.
“Servant leadership is how I have managed change and successfully implemented new initiatives across large, long-established enterprises and small, seat-of-your-pants startups,” Sutton said. "We will take the same approach at Maine Center Ventures, committing our team to manufacturing the goodwill, trust and empowerment needed to collaborate with our faculty colleagues and be a high-performing, responsive partner to Maine’s business and professional communities.”