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Updated: August 12, 2021

University of Maine at Augusta provost slated to serve as interim president

During a nationwide search for a new president of the University of Maine at Augusta, the current provost would serve as interim president under a recommendation announced Tuesday. 

University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy will ask the system's trustee executive committee to approve Joseph Szakas for the interim post at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24.

portrait Joseph Szakas
Courtesy / University of Maine System
Joseph Szakas, who currently serves as vice president of academic affairs and provost at the University of Maine at Augusta, may serve as interim president until a successor is found for outgoing President Rebecca Wyke.

UMA  is seeking a successor to outgoing President Rebecca Wyke, who recently resigned to take the helm of the Maine Public Employee Retirement System.

If trustees confirm Szakas as interim president, he would also continue to serve as the school's vice president of academic affairs and provost, according to a news release.

In Malloy's conversations with the UMA community following news of Wyke's resignation, feedback focused on the needs to provide the university with stability and capable leadership during the search and to bring greater opportunities to UMA from throughout the public university system.

UMA is the third-largest university in the University of Maine System, serving students at two main campuses in Augusta and Bangor, eight university centers, and online.

“All of our presidents know that unified accreditation for UMS means that every educational resource at all of our universities can be made available to support each of our students no matter where they are, and no matter where they are in their lives,” Malloy said in a statement.

"Provost Szakas knows UMA well and can move the university forward over the next year, taking advantage of UMA’s strengths and unified accreditation opportunities to better serve all of our students and state."

Szakas joined the faculty at UMA in September 2000 and has served in his current role since May 2011. Since then, he has led efforts to develop the school's aviation and veterinary technology on-site degree programs and several online degrees and credentials including cybersecurity, data science and elementary education.

Tuesday's news release said that Szakas  will not be a candidate in the search for UMA’s ongoing president.  

“President Wyke has invested her entire career as a transformational leader in Maine’s public sector,” Szakas said. “Our university, the University of Maine System, and our students benefited greatly from her commitment to ensuring access and excellence for all UMA students.”

Noting the need for student-centered higher education innovation and service, Szakas added: "I am confident we, at our statewide campuses, centers and online access, can count on UMA’s leadership team and our talented faculty and staff to meet the needs of current students, while helping set the stage through our leadership transition for even greater impact in the years to come.”  

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