University of Maine at Machias President Cynthia Huggins plans to retire at the end of December after nearly a decade in the post and 17 years on staff at the university.

Her retirement is one of several major staff changes announced recently by University of Maine System Chancellor James Page.

Huggins, 58, has led the Washington County university since 2005 and has been on campus since joining the faculty as an assistant English professor in 1997. She also served a brief stint as acting vice president of academic affairs.

“President Huggins has been a strong leader for the University of Maine at Machias and a good fit for the region,” Page said in a news release. “Working with her dedicated faculty and staff, Cindy has improved access to education programs for students and been an important partner in community and economic initiatives throughout (the region). She has also been a valued and effective voice for her campus and for public higher education throughout the state.”

Under Huggins’ leadership, the university adopted an environmental liberal arts focus, becoming the only public college in New England to offer an interdisciplinary program geared toward environmental and community sustainability. The university also developed policies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 44 percent over seven years; launched an academic counseling and services program tailored to adult learners; expanded its early college program for area high school students; and added three online degree programs.

“It has been such an honor to serve as UMM’s president for the past decade,” Huggins said. “This is a very special university, with exceptional staff and faculty who care deeply about our students and consistently do everything possible to support and encourage them. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, working together as a team to keep post-secondary education accessible, affordable and relevant to the good people of Washington County and throughout eastern Maine.”

Following her retirement, Huggins plans to join the editing business owned by Laurel Robinson, her life partner, and finish writing a book that she set aside in 2005.

Page said he would work with Huggins and her adminstrative team over the next several months to develop an interim leadership plan for the university.

In July, former Central Maine Power Co. executive David Flanagan became interim president of the University of Southern Maine, one of seven universities in the system.

Flanagan replaced Theodora Kalikow, who is now acting vice chancellor at the system office in Bangor, working on a one-year “community engagement initiative.” Kalikow’s No. 2 at USM, Provost Michael Stevenson, also stepped down to take a special assistant’s position at the system office through June 2015.

Stevenson will be a senior fellow for academic affairs, working on an overhaul of academic offerings systemwide and reporting to UMaine Farmington President Kathryn Foster, who is leading the review.

In July, Susan Hunter, a longtime system faculty member and administrator, was named temporary president at the University of Maine, the system’s flagship campus in Orono. Formerly vice chancellor for academic affairs, Hunter will be president for two years. It’s the first time that a woman has held that position.

Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or at:

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