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David Flanagan Appointed President of the University of Southern Maine

UMS Chancellor James Page and Board of Trustees recruit renowned business and policy leader to guide USM through a critical transition

PORTLAND, MAINE — University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page joined Board of Trustee Chair Samuel Collins in announcing that David T. Flanagan has been appointed the President of the University of Southern Maine. University leaders recruited Flanagan, a widely respected business and policy leader to head a critical transition of an institution that serves Maine’s two largest urban regions.

President Flanagan’s long service to Maine has included fifteen years with Central Maine Power, the state’s largest public utility. As President of CMP Flanagan led the response to the 1998 Ice Storm, Maine’s largest natural disaster, safely closed the Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, kept rate increases below the rate of inflation, and increased customer satisfaction from 44% at the start of his tenure to an industry leading 92%.

Over the course of his career David Flanagan has been an Assistant Maine Attorney General and served as Chief Legal Counsel to Maine Governor Joseph Brennan. In 2005 U.S. Senator Susan Collins appointed Flanagan to lead the Homeland Security Committee’s investigation into the U.S. Government’s response to the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina.

President Flanagan is a former member and Chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees and led the 2009 Task Force on the Structure and Governance of the University of Maine System. Meeting New Challenges, Setting New Directions, the report issued by that panel offered prophetic assessments of the fiscal and organizational challenges facing public higher education in Maine today.

In announcing the appointment of President Flanagan, university leaders made it clear that the University of Southern Maine faces grave fiscal and enrollment challenges that include a projected $12.5 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year and a 10% drop in credit hours over the last six years.

“We must act decisively if the University of Southern Maine is to remain a viable, valuable and affordable pathway to opportunity and advancement for the Portland and Lewiston-Auburn regions,” said University of Maine System Chancellor James Page. “The Board of Trustees and I have asked David Flanagan, one of Maine’s most accomplished and respected leaders, to serve as USM’s interim president, balance its budget and set the university on the right track for the future.”

In his remarks Chancellor Page laid our five objectives for the incoming president:

  • Rebuild trust and productively align campuses around common objectives
  • Close USM’s projected $12.5 million budget gap in the next fiscal year
  • Begin implementation of the Metropolitan University Model
  • Strengthen USM’s relationships and standing throughout the region
  • Lay a foundation for success for USM’s permanent president

Chancellor Page’s remarks are included with this press release.

President Flanagan will begin his tenure at the University of Southern Maine on Monday, July 28, 2014. He will serve as president until a permanent president arrives on campus. UMS Board of Trustee Member James Erwin is leading USM through a search process that will get underway this fall with a goal of having a permanent leader in place in the middle of 2015.

While Flanagan’s service is temporary, university leaders made it clear that Flanagan was recruited and tasked to lead a significant organizational change at USM with the unanimous support of the Board of Trustees.

“USM must undergo a significant organizational change to balance its budget for 2016 and position itself as a sustainable, strong and valuable institution of public education for the future,” said UMS Board Chair Samuel Collins of Caribou. “The university has to eliminate underperforming programs, reduce its labor costs, improve access, build stronger ties to the community, and invest in promising courses of study.”

“The Board of Trustees sought out David Flanagan because of his success in crisis management, his understanding of the issues and because he embodies the servant-leadership style it takes build consensus and implement change,” said Collins. “We are asking and directing him to act.”

In prepared remarks President Flanagan outlined the challenges confronting the University of Southern Maine, spoke to the inclusive leadership style he intends to bring to campus, called for campus civility, and expressed optimism about USM’s future.

“The USM business model is obsolete,” said President Flanagan. “Outside forces have rendered it unsustainable. USM must transform itself to ensure its future value to the people of Maine. And this university with all its strengths has the capacity to undergo such a transformation.”

“With decisive leadership, high performance teams, committed faculty and staff and a supportive community, we can get from here to there — to a new model of a USM that is leaner, smaller both in employment and footprint, more agile, less bureaucratic, competitively priced and offering greater flexibility for students,” Flanagan continued.

President Flanagan also made it clear in his remarks he intends to act fairly, openly, collaboratively and civilly, in the best Maine tradition.

“We know we have no monopoly on good ideas, and believe USM has many professors, adjuncts, and staff who can greatly contribute to transforming this university into someplace great,” said President Flanagan.

President Flanagan’s remarks are included with this announcement.

Several prominent Maine leaders expressed admiration and support for President Flanagan upon learning he was beginning a new chapter of public service to Maine and its people.

Maine’s Senior U.S. Senator, Susan Collins:

“I have known David for many years and have great respect for his leadership abilities,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. “David cares deeply about the State of Maine and has a tremendous commitment to public service. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in 2005 I appointed David as general counsel of our investigation into the government’s flawed response to Hurricane Katrina. He showed a steadfast commitment to identifying the problems and recommending responsible solutions.”

U.S. Senator and former Maine Governor Angus King:

“For more than three decades, David has been an exceptional leader in Maine, serving the state in both the public and private sectors. In fact, during the Ice Storm of 1998, he was an indispensable partner to me as we worked to get the state back up and running,” Senator King said. “David’s diverse set of experiences, in conjunction with his deep understanding of the importance of higher education, make him well-prepared to work with USM’s students, faculty, and staff to help ensure that the University will continue to graduate Maine’s future leaders.”

Barry Hobbins, (D-Saco) Maine State House Chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee:

“We need a strong, stable public university serving the people and communities of Southern Maine,” said State Representative Barry Hobbins (D-Saco). “David Flanagan has successfully taken on some of our state’s and the nation’s toughest business and public policy challenges. His inclusive, fact-based leadership style is going to earn respect and produce results at USM for students and taxpayers.”

Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine:

“David’s history of public service to Maine as well as his private sector leadership make him an ideal choice to lead the University of Southern Maine,” said Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “He brings business acumen and expertise in energy, conservation, and other pressing issues that USM students will face when they graduate. He cares deeply about the quality of our education system and about the direction Maine is headed.” Lisa recently served with David on an external review committee for the Muskie School of Public Service.

Barbara Trafton, former Board Chair, Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy:

“David is a wise and practical conservation leader. As both board chair and campaign co-chair for The Nature Conservancy’s Maine Chapter, he has helped to make Maine a global leader through innovative marine work and large-scale protection of Maine’s woods, lakes, and rivers,” said Barbara Trafton. “The USM community will be enriched by David’s presence.”

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System is the state’s largest educational enterprise. It has an annual enrollment of nearly 40,000 students and serves over 500,000 individuals annually through educational and cultural offerings. Two-thirds of its alumni—approximately 120,000 people—live in Maine. The University of Maine System features seven universities—some with multiple campuses—located across the state, as well as eight University College outreach centers, a law school, an additional 31 course sites, and Cooperative Extension. For more information, visit www.maine.edu.