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Citing NJ Challenges, Dr. Harvey Kesselman To Forgo Opportunity to Lead the University of Southern Maine

PORTLAND, MAINE – Dr. Harvey Kesselman, who had accepted an appointment as President of the University of Southern Maine that was to commence on July 1, 2015, has agreed to a request by the Stockton University Board of Trustees that he remain as Acting President of Stockton, providing continuity and valuable leadership while the University resolves challenges which have thwarted plans to develop a campus at the former Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.

Dr. Kesselman became Acting President at Stockton University at the end of April following the abrupt resignation of President Herman Saatkamp for medical reasons.  Stockton’s plan to develop a campus at the closed casino it had purchased for $18 million was halted by a legal covenant requiring that the property remain a casino.  This led to a hearing by the New Jersey Legislature and a no-confidence vote by the faculty of Stockton University.

STATEMENT TO USM COMMUNITY:  Dr. Kesselman issued the following statement on May 20, 2015 to the USM community regarding his decision to see Stockton University through its challenges:

“I pursued and accepted the presidency of the University of Southern Maine convinced that the very best days of the institution lie ahead.  I still believe in USM’s future, but circumstances unforeseen have created a great challenge at an institution I have served and loved for the last thirty-five years.

“While I eagerly anticipated being part of USM’s resurgence, the tremendous sense of obligation I have to Stockton University means I must forgo the opportunity to lead the University of Southern Maine.

“Maine is a special place and I remain absolutely convinced the University of Southern Maine has an important role in the state’s future.  I will forever be grateful for the acceptance and grace I have received from every Mainer I have met and forever a fan of the USM Huskies!”

Earlier this week Madeleine Deininger, Chair of the Stockton University Board of Trustees, wrote to University of Maine System Chancellor James Page formally requesting that Dr. Kesselman be permitted to withdraw from his contract with the University of Southern Maine citing the seriousness of the issues that Dr. Kesselman must address at Stockton.  That request was granted.

“Harvey Kesselman’s long, capable service and dedication to Stockton University were among the qualities that made him such an appealing choice to join our leadership team in Maine,” said University of Maine System Chancellor James Page.  “While we sincerely enjoyed getting to know Dr. Kesselman and looked forward to working together, we respect his decision and admire his devotion to Stockton.  We wish Dr. Kesselman and the entire Stockton University community all the best.”