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March 8, 2019

University of Maine Fort Kent President Short announces retirement

Courtesy / University of Maine Fort Kent
Courtesy / University of Maine Fort Kent
University of Maine Fort Kent President John Short announced he will retired at the end of June.

University of Maine at Fort Kent President John Short will retire at the end of the academic year, he announced Thursday.

Short has been president at the University of Maine at Fort Kent since April 2016. He will retire on June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

In his three years at the university he oversaw programs that addresses workforce issues, as well as strengthened ties with the state's other public universities and the northern Aroostook County community.

In a news release, he cited a health scare his wife, Caryn's, had last year and the desire to spend more time with his family as a factor in the announcement.

An interim president will be named before May's graduation, and University of Maine System Chancellor James Page will discuss the transition with campus and community stakeholders, the release said.

"President Short embraced the opportunity to lead the University of Maine at Fort Kent, serve its students, and continue the institution's strong traditions of community engagement and regional service," said Page. "He has also been a valued member of a university leadership team that is committed to overcoming Maine's workforce challenges through the establishment of a statewide continuum of public education that provides lifelong, Maine-focused access to educational programming and skill development.

Milestones during Short's tenure at the university, which has about 990 undergraduate students, include:

  • Completion of a 10-year master plan focused on establishing a Maine health sciences campus with professional programs, upgraded classroom technology to create state-of-the-art learning spaces and distance education, transformed student affairs operations on campus and increased endowed scholarships through the UMFK Foundation.
  • Development of campus collaborations with the University of Maine at Presque Isle that have sustained local access to programming and strengthened capacity for resource sharing and deployment. Work with the system and the University of Southern Maine will result in an online master of science in nursing.
  • UMFK has contributed to the establishment of Valley Unified Regional High School,which would serve Frenchville, Fort Kent and Madawaska, with the university as a higher education and early college partner. While it's been approved by the state Department of Education, the school's location hasn't yet been determined.
  • UMFK strengthened its commitment to state service and leadership in terms of prelicensure nursing education and early college access. It has expanded nursing enrollment by 53% over the last five years in response to the state's nursing cliff. This work included the launch last fall of a new UMFK nursing cohort at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. UMFK has also provided access to students in high schools across the state and increasing participation by 161% over the last five years.

Highlight of 40-year career

"UMFK is an amazing campus and resource for this area," he said in the release. "As was the case when I accepted the presidency, I remain so impressed with the depth and emotional connection of the community with this campus."

Short came to the university from University of Wisconsin Fond du Lac, where he was CEO and dean. He and his wife, Caryn, bought a house in Delaware last year following Caryn's triple bypass open heart surgery.

The perspective of the health scare, the year-long recovery and the opportunity to spend more time with family were important considerations in the retirement decision, he said.

Short said that serving as the university's president was an honor and the highlight of his 40-year career in higher education.

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