AUGUSTA — The University of Maine at Augusta is searching for a new leader after it was announced Wednesday that interim President Glenn Cummings will leave to lead the University of Southern Maine.

Cummings, 54, a Bath native who lives in Portland, will take over as USM’s president in July. The University of Maine System said Chancellor James Page will name UMA’s interim president before the end of June and a permanent president could be chosen by November.

The new president will come at a key time for the university with campuses in Augusta and Bangor. On Monday, the system board of trustees accepted UMA’s five-year strategic plan, which includes a plan to recruit a private developer to design, build and operate a 70-bed student housing unit aimed at attracting out-of-state students to unique degree programs, including those in aviation and architecture.

“We’re set up for excellence, and I believe finding the right president will allow us to be the best college in the University of Maine System,” said Roger Mackbach, a junior computer science student and president of the student government association at the Augusta campus.

A former Maine House speaker, deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education and president and executive director of Good Will-Hinckley and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, Cummings took over as UMA’s interim president in September. He was a finalist for the USM job that initially went to Harvey Kesselman, a longtime New Jersey college administrator, in March, but the system announced Wednesday that Kesselman had backed out to stay at Stockton University.

The system said in a news release that a committee headed by trustee Marjorie Medd will conduct a national search for UMA’s new president. The job will be posted in June, and finalists are expected to visit the university in September and October ahead of a November decision.

That person is set to be the Augusta university’s third leader in less than a year after Allyson Handley left the job in September after more than six years in Augusta. Ann Blanke, a mathematics lecturer at UMA’s Bangor campus and a former faculty senate president, said it would be nice to see stability in the role, but that wasn’t a problem when Cummings took over.

“He walked into the role very, very well, so I personally didn’t feel like he was an interim president,” Blanke said.

The university is the third-largest in Maine’s state system behind the University of Maine in Orono and USM, serving 6,200 students between 2014 and 2015, according to the university. It’s focused on serving older, nontraditional students. Learners age 25 and older made up two-thirds of the student body in the fall of 2014 compared to just 36 percent of students systemwide.

Mackbach said he was sorry to see Cummings go and that USM is “getting one heck of a president.” He said Cummings has an “open-door policy” with students and listens to their concerns and needs.

“He made the students feel respected and important, and I hope that’s what we find in a new person coming in,” Mackbach said.

In a message to UMA employees on Wednesday, Cummings said “this stands as a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the university of my hometown.”

“Few places have such collaborative, honest, devoted, hardworking and talented individuals,” he said. “For that reason, I am convinced that UMA possesses a very bright future.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme