April 10, 2018

UMaine hires high-profile researcher and STEM advocate as president

Courtesy / University of Maine System
Courtesy / University of Maine System
Joan Ferrini-Mundy, chief operating officer of the $7.8 billion National Science Foundation, was announced today as the 21st president of the University of Maine. She will succeed Susan Hunter and will begin her term on July 1.

About Joan Ferrini-Mundy

Prior to her work as a member of the U.S. Government Senior Executive Service at the National Science Foundation, Joan 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's College of Engineering. She served as associate dean for science and mathematics education in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State as well as professor of mathematics and teacher education for 12 years. Prior to joining Michigan State, Ferrini-Mundy served as the director of the masters of science for teachers program and professor of mathematics at UNH for 16 years.

Joan Ferrini-Mundy, chief operating officer of the $7.8 billion National Science Foundation, will be the 21st president of the University of Maine and the president of the University of Maine at Machias.

She succeeds 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. James H. Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System, announced the selection of Ferrini-Mundy at a 10 a.m. news conference in Orono today.

A New Hampshire native, Ferrini-Mundy has been a leader with the National Science Foundation for nearly a decade. Most recently she's been COO of the independent federal agency that is the funding source for 24% of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. Last year, the foundation worked with 2,000 institutions to support the investigation and discovery of 359,000 researchers, teachers, and students.

Ferrini-Mundy also has provided campus-based academic leadership as an associate dean and served as professor of mathematics at two land grant universities.

"Under President Hunter's leadership over the last four years we have seen how innovation and partnership can leverage UMaine's 150-year legacy of service for even greater state-focused impact," Page said in his prepared remarks for today's announcement. "Dr. Ferrini-Mundy will provide the national expertise, stature and commitment to higher education that will ensure the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias are 'One University' leaders in serving Maine students, families, businesses and communities."

Page noted that UMaine's incoming president is also a national leader in STEM education research and policy, co-leading the development of a government-wide strategic plan for science, technology, and engineering education across 14 science agencies that has achieved improved coherence and impact in the federal government's $3 billion STEM education investment.

Ferrini-Mundy, who was one of four finalists brought to Orono and Machias in February for campus visits, said she was honored to be named UMaine's 21st president.

"Leadership at Maine's flagship university comes with great opportunity to advance scholarship and discovery and an incredible obligation to deploy university research and talent in service to the state and its students," she said. "I am particularly eager to work with our colleagues at the University of Maine at Machias to pursue initiatives that strengthen our service to Maine and build stronger pathways to Maine careers."

Ferrini-Mundy will be meeting this week with faculty, students, staff, university and state leaders in Orono, Machias and Augusta as part of her early introduction to Maine. She will begin her term on July 1.

Her husband, Rick Mundy, will be joining her in Orono. They have three adult children — Joe Mundy, Beth Mundy and Adri Mundy.

A national search

UMaine, the state's premier research institution, spent an average of $86 million annually over the last five years on research and development and responsible for more than three-quarters of university-related spending on discovery. In its national search for a successor to Susan Hunter, the university focused on finding a leader with the qualifications, national experience and commitment to service, research, and scholarship necessary to lead Maine's largest and leading research university.

The search resulted in 67 candidates.

James Erwin, chairman of the UMaine System board of trustees, said the board of trustees endorsed Ferrini-Mundy's appointment "because of her passion and success as a scholar, her track record as an innovator, and her highly valued experience and leadership as a senior executive at the nation's top research agency."

"Established by a public charter and supported by both legislative appropriations and public investment, the University of Maine System has an obligation to serve the citizens and communities of our great state in ways that meet the needs and challenges of our current and future students," he said. "With a working-age population that will shrink by 100,000 over the next 10 years, we look to our flagship university under incoming President Ferrini-Mundy's leadership and in collaboration with her colleagues at UMaine and across the System, to achieve the innovation and partnerships needed to attract and retain students of all ages and backgrounds to our campuses and into programs with strong connections to Maine careers."


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