AUGUSTA — Rebecca Wyke, a top University of Maine System administrator, has been appointed as interim president of the University of Maine at Augusta, Chancellor James Page announced Monday afternoon.

Wyke, who has served as vice chancellor for finance and administration and treasurer for the last seven years, is the second interim president to lead the university since Allyson Handley left the position in September. Glenn Cummings, a former Democratic Maine House speaker, had served as interim president until being hired in May as president of the University of Southern Maine.

The search for a permanent president at UMA is expected to produce finalists by the November meeting of the system board of trustees.

Wyke, who lives in Augusta, said Monday she’s considering applying for the permanent position.

One of Wyke’s objectives as interim president will be to head an effort by the University of Maine System Presidents Council to develop an online and distance learning strategy and platform for the system’s seven universities, she said. The goal is to create a strategic plan for the online platform, including costs and funding sources, by the end of September, Wyke said.

Another goal of Wyke’s term as interim president is to complete the university’s capital campaign goal of raising $5 million by the end of the year. She said the campaign has raised about two-thirds of the money so far.


The university is also in the planning stage of working with a private developer to build student housing on campus, an effort driven by the expected growth of new programs attracting more traditionally-aged students, UMA’s architecture and aviation programs. Wyke said that effort will be another major focus of hers in Augusta.

She said UMA and its focus on supporting adult and distance learning makes it one of the university system’s most interesting assets. The university is well poised to serve an even greater population of the state, Wyke said.

“I know these communities first hand,” she said. “I’m here because I want to be. This is very much my choice to be here.”

Wyke, 53, formerly served as commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services under Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.

Along with Wyke’s appointment, Page also announced Monday the appointment of an interim president at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the promotion of the University of Maine’s vice president of administration and finance to the system office.

John Murphy, chief financial officer at the Fort Kent university, will serve as interim president until the national search for a new president is completed, according to a release from the system announcing the appointments. The search committee is expected to present final candidates to the board of trustees in early 2016.


Murphy, who has served as an administrator at the university for more than 20 years and is a past interim leader, will continue with his financial management duties while interim president.

Ryan Low, vice president of administration and finance at the University of Maine, will become chief financial officer for the entire university system, part of the system’s move toward combining the financial management of the seven universities.

That move is part of the system’s initiative to reorganize all administrative functions into a single administrative structure, said system spokesman Dan Demeritt. Starting in fiscal year 2017, the university system will develop a single budget instead of all seven universities coming up with their own, he said.

With Low’s appointment to the chief financial officer position at the system, the chief financial officers at the universities will transition into chief business officers and report to Low, Demeritt said.

Wyke’s former position will be morphed into a new chief operating officer position that will remain vacant. Demeritt said Wyke could return to that position or could apply to be a candidate for the permanent UMA president job. The trustees will appoint an interim treasurer at their July meeting.

The changes announced Monday would result in an estimated $375,000 in one-time savings if the unfilled positions remained unfilled for the entire fiscal year, but the actual savings will likely be less than that, Demeritt said.


Wyke, who was a finalist for the system chancellor job in 2012, will keep her $205,000 salary as interim president at UMA. Page approved a $40,000 raise for Wyke in January 2014 because she was being considered for a job out of state, a raise criticized by some for coming at a time of austerity at the university system.

Last year, the system used $11.4 million in emergency funds and cut 157 positions to balance its $529 million budget. In May, trustees approved a $518 million budget for the fiscal year beginning in July that will use $7 million in emergency funds and cut 206 positions.

Murphy, who will take on both the presidential and chief financial officer duties at the university in Fort Kent, will see his salary increase from $105,496 to $140,000, according to Demeritt. Low’s salary will increase from $165,000 to $185,000 when he moves from UMaine to the system.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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