WELLS — Charlie Lyons, president of York County Community College, died Wednesday morning after a battle with cancer, said college officials.

Lyons, who was 68, was president of the college for six years, capping a 30-year career as an advocate for students and a leader of higher education in Maine.

“Today, a family lost a husband and a father, and the state of Maine lost a great leader,” said John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System. “We will all miss the energy and joy he brought to anyone in his presence.”

Scott Knapp, president of Central Maine Community College in Auburn, was named interim president of York County Community College on Monday. Knapp will divide his time between the two campuses.

Lyons, who lived in Scarborough with his wife, Barbara, held various senior administrative posts in the University of Maine System, according to the community college system’s website.

He was president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent from 1996 to 2001 and president of the University of Maine at Augusta from 2001 to 2006.

He also served three years as vice chancellor of the University of Maine System.

Maine’s political leaders responded to news of Lyons’ death with statements of sadness and respect.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charlie Lyons, an outstanding public servant, and a dear friend,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. “His impressive career speaks to his steady leadership and unwavering commitment to the noble cause of educating minds. Charlie leaves behind a lasting legacy that will be felt for a long time to come.”

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and her husband, former Gov. John McKernan, described Lyons as “an extraordinary person” and said “his tireless efforts throughout his exceptional career have undoubtedly bettered the lives of thousands across our state.”

Gov. Paul LePage said, “Today, we lost a great family man, a great champion of higher education, but most of all, a great Mainer who put his students first.”

Lyons graduated from Madison High School and earned degrees at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, the University of Hartford and Boston University.

When he was appointed president of York County Community College, he was a former chairman of the Maine Higher Education Council, chairman of the Board of Visitors of the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, and a senior member of the Clinical Research Review Committee at Maine Medical Center.

Lyons also led the Maine Higher Education Partnership, a group of six university and community college presidents responsible for creating seamless articulation agreements among the 14 institutions in the University of Maine and Maine Community College systems.

At the time of his appointment in 2006, Lyons said, “I believe deeply that higher education will be the driver of the Maine economy over the coming decades and that our community colleges will play a critical role in bringing more Maine people to college.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

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