AUGUSTA — University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Hughes Handley thinks the background of the university system’s new leader bodes well for the capital city campus.

James Page, named as the new system chancellor by University of Maine System trustees Thursday, is a Maine-born and educated businessman.

“I think his understanding of the state and what are some of the challenges and business needs is a real plus,” Handley said. “This is a time of profound change in higher education. The board is very focused on this and have selected a leader who, hopefully, will partner with all of the seven presidents, the board and the community in moving the educational attainment of Maine citizens forward.

“It’s a time of transition. And it should be an easy one, because he knows the state.”

Page is CEO of the James Sewall Co. in Old Town and a native of Fort Kent, where he graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent in 1975.

“I think it’s very exciting for Maine to have a Maine native, who went to one of the public universities, at Fort Kent,” she said. “That’s particularly encouraging for UMA, since most of our students are Mainers, on both the Augusta and Bangor campuses.”

UMA is the system’s third-largest university, with about 5,200 students on campuses in Augusta, Bangor and online.

Handley thinks Page will understand UMA’s mission and role within the system. UMA has traditionally attracted an older, often working, student population.

“His business sector experience, I think, will bring his awareness of the contemporary need for lifelong learning, and serving the needs of working adults,” she said. “And that’s a niche UMA filled early in our not-quite-50-year history. I think he’ll appreciate UMA’s role in distance education, serving students who are place-bound but also, increasingly, time-bound.”

Handley said she has yet to meet the new chancellor but said UMA representatives were able to meet him during the interview process.

“All of the presidents are looking forward to working collaboratively with him and to advancing the change agenda the Board of Trustees has set for the system,” Handley said.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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