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March 5, 2024

University of Maine at Farmington names a familiar leader as president

The interim president of the University of Maine at Farmington, Joseph McDonnell, has been named president of the school.

Courtesy / UMF
University of Maine at Farmington President Joseph McDonnell

With the backing of the University of Maine System trustees, UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy appointed McDonnell to a two-year term, according to a news release Tuesday.

McDonnell became UMF’s interim president in 2022, having most recently served as a faculty member, dean and provost at the University of Southern Maine. He was the fourth leader in as many years at UMF.

At the time, the university was reorganizing after a 25% drop in student enrollment during the prior five years, the release noted. Current enrollment includes roughly 1,000 undergraduates.

Originally, the UMaine System had planned to conduct a search for UMF’s next president. But in a message to faculty, staff and students, Malloy wrote that he had clearly heard a desire for McDonnell to continue leading UMF.

“President McDonnell has worked tirelessly and collaboratively over the past two years with faculty, administrators, students, staff, external partners and University of Maine System colleagues to stem UMF’s declining enrollment, stabilize its budget, improve internal communications and position the university for near-term and long-term success,” Malloy wrote.

“I have witnessed first-hand the early fruits of these labors, including UMF’s engagement with high-quality online academic programs, competitive adult degree completion initiatives, and strategic partnerships with local and regional employers, other UMS universities, and Maine’s community colleges. I applaud Joe — and all of you — for your creative thinking, willingness to innovate and sheer hard work. All of it is leading to positive change.”

Amid a rapidly changing higher education landscape, McDonnell has worked to recruit and retain students and improve the university’s fiscal health. For example, UMF has quickly grown online degree and certificate offerings, and for the first time, the university’s nationally accredited special education bachelor’s degree program is available entirely online

UMS Board of Trustees Chair Trish Riley said in the release, “President McDonnell is a leader who understands that UMF must adapt to assure its sustainability. His exciting and practical vision offers new possibilities for UMF.

"The Board knows that change is hard and maintaining a balanced budget requires difficult decisions. President McDonnell has our full support as he continues his work with and for the university community to build the UMF for the future."

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