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It’s been a busy time of change in the presidencies at Maine colleges. At Bowdoin College, Clayton Rose stepped down and has been replaced by Safa Zaki, who comes from Williams College.
At Bates College, Clayton Spencer, who retired, was replaced by Garry W. Jenkins, who has been dean of the University of Minnesota Law School.
Joe Cassidy, who comes from Southern Maine Community College, will replace James Dlugos at Saint Joseph’s College and Tiffanie Bentley will serve as interim president at SMCC.
The new hires bring years of experience in top positions, and a fresh outlook at the various colleges.
Safa Zaki, a psychology professor and dean of faculty at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., became the first woman to lead Bowdoin College, effective July 1.
Zaki succeeded Clayton Rose, who stepped down last April following an eight-year tenure marked by an increase in campus building projects, fundraising and student applications.
“In Safa Zaki, Bowdoin has found a distinguished scholar and leader with a global perspective who believes deeply in the transformative power of a liberal arts education,” Scott Perper, a Bowdoin alumnus and member of the search committee, said at the time Zaki was hired.
Before joining Brunswick-based Bowdoin, Zaki was the dean of the faculty and the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology at Williams College.
Zaki, a native of Egypt, joined the Williams faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor of psychology after serving as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University.
In 2005, she was promoted to associate professor and by 2010 was a full professor. She twice chaired the Williams program in cognitive science and was named Class of 1924 Professor of Psychology in 2021. She was named to the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professorship in 2022.
During her time at Williams, she oversaw departments and programs, including their budgets and personnel, graduate programs; athletics; the grants office; the Rice Center for Teaching; the Center for Global Languages, Literatures & Cultures; the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences; the Center for Environmental Studies; the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford University; and the Williams-Mystic Program.
Safa began her duties on July 1, and will be installed officially at her inauguration on Saturday, Oct. 14.
At Bates College, Clayton Spencer, who retired, was replaced by Garry W. Jenkins, who had been dean of the University of Minnesota Law School.
He is the Lewiston-based college’s ninth president since its 1855 founding and its first Black leader.
“We are at a pivotal moment for American society and higher education,” Jenkins said at the time he was hired. “The world urgently needs leaders who have been challenged, developed, and nurtured by Bates and a liberal arts education. I am excited about what our community will accomplish together in the years ahead.”
During Jenkins’ tenure as dean, the University of Minnesota Law School’s endowment nearly doubled. In 2021, he conducted a record-setting fundraising campaign at the University of Minnesota Law School that raised $106 million, which surpassed the goal of $80 million.
The funds raised went towards scholarships, professorships and faculty research, student support and fellowships, clinical programs and experiential learning, leadership programming, and the annual fund.
Jenkins has continued to teach while serving as dean of the law school. In the fall of 2020, he co-taught a course titled “George Floyd’s Minneapolis: Past, Present, and Moving Forward,” which examined the historical, socio-political, and legal contexts and implications of the murder of George Floyd — which happened less than four miles from the University of Minnesota Law School.
Jenkins made nearly two dozen presentations to national professional organizations and other groups over the last five years, addressing topics that included leadership development for lawyers, anti-racism and racial justice in the law school curriculum and hate speech and the First Amendment on college campuses.
Prior to joining Minnesota Law School, Jenkins spent 12 years as a professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; for eight of those years, he served as associate dean for academic affairs. During his time at Mortiz, he co-founded and directed the innovative Program on Law and Leadership, which was the first such program at a U.S. law school.
Jenkins was a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Pittsburgh and an attorney with the New York City law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Before entering higher education, he was COO and general counsel of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
After six years as president of the Southern Maine Community College, Joe Cassidy stepped down to become the president of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.
Cassidy replaces James Dlugos, who announced his retirement in October 2022, effective Aug. 1.
“I continue to be proud of the work that we do to educate and uplift Mainers and to support the Maine economy,” Cassidy said at the time he was hired by Saint Joseph’s. “I know I step away from SMCC leaving it in the very capable hands of its world-class leaders, teachers, and staff members. For my family and I, we are excited for our next adventure in higher education at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish.”
During his time at SMCC, Cassidy had many accomplishments including leading a strategic plan process reorganizing SMCC around academic pathways that save students time and money while improving student outcomes, expanding short-term workforce training programs, developing the SMCC campus in Brunswick, leading the college community through the COVID-19 pandemic, instituting a culture of respect and learning for a diverse community and adding resources such as an Intercultural Student Center, adding courses and programs to address immediate workforce needs and expanding partnerships with organizations such as Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, Prosperity Maine and In Her Presence.
Cassidy previously served as president of Washington County Community College. He began his career at WCCC as a faculty member before taking the position of president. Cassidy also served as president of the WCCC Faculty Association. He also served as the mayor of the City of Calais.
In addition to serving as president at SMCC and WCCC, Cassidy simultaneously served as interim president at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor for the 2015-16 academic year.
Stepping in for Cassidy, SMCC named Dean of Administration Tiffanie Bentley as interim president, effective Aug. 1.
A nationwide search for the next SMCC president is underway and Bentley will serve as interim president until a new president is seated, which will likely be in spring 2024.
“Tiffanie is an inclusive and trusted leader,” Maine Community College System President David Daigler said at the time she was appointed. “I look forward to working with her in this role.”
Prior to her time at SMCC, Bentley worked at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Woman’s University in Denton and the University of Southern Maine. She received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Oklahoma State University.