Glenn Cummings, who has served as the University of Maine at Augusta’s interim president since September, is one of the three finalists announced Tuesday for president of the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

Cummings, a Portland resident, said he applied for the job at USM because he wants to stay in a leadership role at the University of Maine System, and there was no guarantee he would remain at UMA after the temporary posting. He said he has enjoyed and respects the work at UMA, but the decision to apply for USM came down to the timing of the two searches.

Cummings said he wants to remain at UMA and doesn’t have a preference between the UMA and USM presidential positions.

“Until there’s any kind of job offer, as far as I’m concerned, I’m in the running for both,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

System officials had said when Cummings was appointed that he probably would serve for about a year. System spokesman Dan Demeritt said there isn’t a timetable for a search at UMA because the system is focusing its attention on finding a new president at USM, which has been led by former Central Maine Power Co. CEO David Flanagan since July. The system has been pleased with the leadership at UMA so far, Demeritt said.

The board of trustees may vote on Chancellor James Page’s recommendation as early as March, and the new president is expected to take office in July, he said.

“We won’t know until later in the spring how urgently we’ll need to do our search at UMA,” Demeritt said. “We’ll assess at that point.”

Demeritt said the system will go through some type of search process for a permanent president at UMA after the USM search finishes. Cummings was appointed to serve until a permanent president is found, he said.

Cummings has been interim president of the state’s third largest public university since replacing Allyson Handley, who left for a job at National University in San Diego.

Cummings is a former Democratic speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and most recently served as president and executive director of Good Will-Hinckley and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley.

He also has been both an assistant professor of educational leadership at USM and director of the Southern Maine Partnership, a consortium between USM and kindergarten-through-grade 12 school districts working on educational reform, since 2012. He taught as an adjunct professor of economics at USM between 1997 and 2013, according to his application materials for the USM position.

USM is the second-largest of the system’s seven universities and has 8,400 students at three campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. There are 6,300 students at UMA, which has campuses in Augusta and Bangor and eight University College centers across the state.

The other candidates for president of USM are Harvey Kesselman, provost and executive vice president at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and Jose Sartarelli, chief global officer and Milan Puskar dean of the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University.

All candidates will be doing two-day visits to USM next month. Cummings is visiting the university Feb. 9 and 10, according to the system’s release announcing the finalists. The presidential search committee will consider community feedback after the meetings and send its recommendation to Page.

The 80 candidates who responded to the opening represent one of the largest applicant pools in the last decade for a leadership position at the university system, the release said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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