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June 8, 2023

St. Joseph's College names SMCC president to top post

aerial of college campus and water Courtesy / SMCC Southern Maine Community College is the system’s oldest, largest and most diverse college, with more than 6,000 students.

After six years as president of the Southern Maine Community College, Joe Cassidy is stepping down to become the president of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

Bearded man in blue shirt and tie wearing glasses
Joe Cassidy

Cassidy will depart on Aug. 1. At Saint Joseph's, he replaces James Dlugos, who announced his retirement last October, effective July 1.

According to the Maine Community College System release, a nationwide search for the next SMCC president will begin immediately. Maine Community College System president David Daigler will appoint an interim president by June 15 to serve until a new president is seated, likely in spring 2024.

“Joe has been an exceptionally engaged and intentional leader at our colleges, and we are sad to see him go,” said Joyce Maker, chair of the Maine Community College System board of trustees. “He made deep, meaningful connections to the students, colleagues, and many partners and friends of the colleges. We wish him well in his new role.”

It's been an active time of change in the presidencies at Maine colleges. At Bowdoin College, Clayton Rose is stepping down and will be replaced by Safa Zaki, who comes from Williams College. At Bates College, Clayton Spencer, who is retiring, will be replaced by Garry W. Jenkins, who has been dean of the University of Minnesota Law School. Both moves are effective July 1. 

Cassidy's legacy

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.

“I continue to be proud of the work that we do to educate and uplift Mainers and to support the Maine economy," said Cassidy. "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.”

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 mayo 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. 

“Joe has become a trusted colleague and a good friend,” said Daigler. “His calm, open style, warmth and humility are the characteristics that made him the right kind of leader for the college and helped us all weather the pandemic with agility and fortitude. I am very grateful to Joe for his strong leadership and deep commitment to our colleges over the last dozen-plus years.” 

“I appreciate his commitment to our students, growing our colleges, and deepening our ties to local communities," Daigler continued. "Fortunately, through his leadership, the college has the depth and strength to sustain its trajectory during this transitional period. It is with both gratitude and sadness that I have come to accept his departure from SMCC. I will miss working with Joe and I wish him well at Saint Joe’s.”

Southern Maine Community College is the system’s oldest, largest and most diverse college, with more than 6,000 students and offering 40-plus programs of study at the Portland and Brunswick campuses. 

SMCC was ranked No. 4 among Maine's largest colleges and universities in the 2023 Mainebiz Book of Lists, based on full-time undergraduate enrollment in fall 2022. 

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