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December 19, 2018

Search for successor begins as Page announces retirement as UMaine System's chancellor

Courtesy / University of Maine System
Courtesy / University of Maine System
James H. Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System, announced his plans to retire in June. He has served in that position since March 2012.

James H. Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System, announced Tuesday that he plans to retire from that position in June. He has served as chancellor since March 2012, playing a key role in the ongoing restructuring of the seven-campus university system to make it more sustainable and response in meeting Maine's 21st century higher education needs.

In a letter to his colleagues that was made available to Mainebiz, Page said it has been his "honor to work with you and to lead the University of Maine System through a time of unprecedented challenge and transition. Working as One University, we have advanced change that has positioned our institutions as responsive and responsible stewards of public resources, making the One University initiative a national model for reform. The entire university community and our many supporters share in these successes. Thank you for your untiring commitment to our students and to the state we serve."

Page said the UMaine System would launch a national search for his successor, adding that it hopes to hire his successor by July 1.

He also noted that a special board of trustees meeting in Bangor today, the trustees are scheduled to adopt a "declaration of strategic priorities that establishes key focus areas for the next phase of the One University initiative."

"Informed by the state's demographic and economic challenges, and by the rapidly changing and highly competitive higher education landscape, these priorities will guide the system's actions and investments for the next three to five years," Page wrote. "The plan to be adopted calls for the implementation of priorities that expand and extend the One University concept in ways that continue to benefit all Maine students, businesses and communities. With these objectives in hand, we are ready to continue seeking public support and investment and to proceed with the search for a new chancellor to provide the continuity that a multi-year implementation of these priorities requires."

Page's letter closed on the note that he intended to devote his final months to "continuing our ongoing initiatives, developing the declaration's priorities, and partnering with the state's new administration and legislature to ensure public higher education is well-positioned to continue serving our students and state. There is yet much work for us to do together. Thank you again, and please accept my best wishes for the holiday season."

Delivering on his promises

Prior to becoming chancellor, Page was principal and CEO of the James W. Sewall Co. in Old Town, a national consulting organization specializing in forestry, natural resources, civil and spatial engineering. Born and raised in Caribou, he is the first UMaine System chancellor to be born in Maine and educated at one of the system's universities.

In a July 2012 Q. and A. interview with Mainebiz, Page said one of his primary goals was to build a more cohesive university system that would preserve each campus's unique strengths but break down any barriers that might keep them as separate entities. He also pledged to address the "credit-transfer issue, enhancing credit transfers between the campuses and also between the college system and the university system."

"In a state of 1.4 million people, we've got seven campuses, we have a number of community colleges, we've got the Maine Maritime Academy," he said. "Rather than just continue to think of them as 'silos' that have to be built up on, we have to think of ways of leveraging them across the state."

Page and the UMaine System's board of trustees delivered on that aspiration when they signed in June 2015 a "far-reaching" transfer agreement allowing students to transfer up to 35 credits of general education requirements between any of Maine's 14 community colleges and public universities. The transfer process had previously been guided by more than 150 transfer agreements for specific programs of study.

"It is not where you start, but how far you go that matters," Page said in a prepared statement at that time. "With this agreement we are ensuring the same learning outcomes, same expectations and same credit for our students across all 14 of Maine's public colleges and universities so Maine learners can more easily and affordably progress along the path to advancement."

The UMaine System's One University initiative builds on that accomplishment by maintaining seven mission-differentiated universities led by their own president but also "realizes efficiencies and excellence through statewide scale while improving coordination and access to academic programs across the campuses through a unified administrative and financial structure."

In a statement sent to Mainebiz this morning, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, thanked Page for his years of service to the state and wished him and his wife, Liane, well upon his retirement.

"Jim Page's tenure as chancellor of the University of Maine System has brought about tremendous progress," she said. "Delivering a high quality, affordable education to students has always been Jim's No. 1 priority. In particular, he led the 'One University' initiative to transition the seven campuses to one system that delivers education to students more effectively and efficiently. He deserves credit and praise for his visionary leadership during a period of challenging demographics and economic constraints."

Read more

UMaine trustees set 'strategic priorities' for next three to five years

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