The University of Maine System’s board of trustees is expected to name a new president for the University of Maine at Augusta by the end of the week, less than four weeks before James Conneely’s last day as university president, a system spokesman said Tuesday.

“The appointment decision has been heavily influenced by the feedback the chancellor (James Page) has received from campus and community leaders since President Conneely’s announced resignation,” spokesman Dan Demeritt said in an email. “The appointment is being shaped as well by all campus stakeholders’ efforts to further UMA’s statewide mission.”

Conneely, who came to UMA in January 2016, resigned unexpectedly in April, effective June 30. Demeritt said shortly afterward that the hope was to name a replacement by the end of May.

The board of trustees’ executive committee plans to meet at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. The meeting agenda, posted on the system’s website, states that the board immediately will go into an executive session to discuss personnel issues. After that session, the committee will vote to authorize the “Chancellor to conclude appointment of president, University of Maine at Augusta.” An accompanying note states “Chancellor Page has visited the campus and conferred with constituent groups about the appointment.” The proposed resolution authorizes Page to conclude negotiations and execute a contract with the recommended candidate.

When Conneely’s resignation was announced April 12, former UMA student government president Patrick Caskin said the school should hire former interim president and current University of Maine System vice chancellor for finance and administration Rebecca Wyke to fill the position. Unlike the formal nationwide search that found Conneely, this time no candidates have been linked publicly to the position.

UMA’s top leadership position has gone through several changes since September 2014, when Allyson Handley left the university after six years at the helm to take a job in California. Former Maine House Speaker Glenn Cummings, who was also former president and executive director of Good Will-Hinckley and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, took over as interim president at UMA after that; and in June 2015 he was appointed president of the University of Southern Maine. Wyke took over as interim president after Cummings left.


Conneely’s resignation, effective June 30, came less than two years after his hiring was touted as bringing commitment and stability to the university. Now the school again is looking for a president, who will be the institution’s fifth leader since September 2014.

Ellen Taylor, an English professor, said in an email that the university’s faculty drafted a statement last month outlining what they’d like in a new president. Taylor said creativity and advocacy for the institution’s unique student population were two important qualities the faculty would like to see in a new leader.

Conneely came to UMA after having been president of Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore, associate provost and vice president of student affairs at Eastern Kentucky University and assistant vice chancellor of student affairs at the University of Arkansas.

When Conneely began the job in January 2016, he signed a three-year contract that ran through June 30, 2018, and paid him $192,000 annually. He will not be paid for the remaining year of his contract, according to Demeritt.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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