President Rebecca Wyke Will Continue To Lead University of Maine at Augusta

On final campus visit to UMA Chancellor Page commends University progress and
announces Board decision to retain President Wyke and waive presidential search requirement

1,125 students attending UMA FREE of tuition and fee expense this spring

AUGUSTA, MAINE — University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page announced today as part of his final campus visit to the University of Maine at Augusta that President Rebecca Wyke will continue to lead the institution. The System Board of Trustees authorized a presidential search waiver and a direct appointment for Dr. Wyke acting on a recommendation from the Chancellor that was informed by strong expressions of support for President Wyke’s leadership from campus and community stakeholders.

In June of 2017 Dr. Wyke was appointed to a fixed, three-year term to replace President James Conneely who had announced his resignation earlier in the year.  This is only the second time during Chancellor Page’s tenure that the Board has been asked to waive a search and authorize a direct appointment for a campus president.

Chancellor Page shared the Board’s decision and thanked the university community for its engagement in the appointment decision at an open campus forum held earlier today in the Fireside Lounge on the Augusta campus.

“The staff and faculty at the University of Maine at Augusta understand that the success of public higher education must be measured by the success of Maine people,” said Chancellor James Page.  “Under President Wyke’s leadership UMA is opening up more opportunities for the students and communities we serve.

“On behalf of the Board I want to congratulate Becky and thank the students, faculty, staff, and community stakeholders who participated in our discussions on UMA’s future.   There was resounding commitment for strengthening UMA’s mission and well-deserved support for Becky’s leadership.”

A leader in distance education, UMA has a statewide presence with two campuses in Augusta and Bangor, eight UMA Centers from Saco to Houlton, and 32 course receive sites across Maine. Flexible modalities, with classes onsite, online, through video conference, Interactive Television, and at UMA Centers allow our students to take classes, while keeping work and family commitments.

In December the Board of Trustees adopted a set of strategic priorities to extend and expand Chancellor Page’s One University Initiative.  As part of the Chancellor’s final campus visit to UMA he highlighted a number of campus achievements that advance public higher education priorities and service to Maine people:

  • 1,125 Spring Students Attend UMA FREE of tuition and fee expense:  Investments in financial aid and an on-going commitment to affordability made it possible for UMA to provide financial aid offers to 1,125 students that completely cover tuition and fee expenses for the spring semester with grants and scholarships.  Cost of attendance can include other expenses and eligibility for aid varies, but nearly 90% of the students who contact UMA’s financial aid office qualify for assistance with college expenses.
  • 29.5% of UMA students attend for FREE:  Nearly a third of UMA students have zero tuition and fee expense after grants and scholarships are applied.
  • 128 Pine Tree State Pledge Recipients:   New commitment to cover the last dollar obligations of Maine students with the greatest financial need provides access to education FREE of tuition and fee expense for 128 students.
  • UMA To Boost Institutional Aid 15%: UMA’s FY20 spending plan will boost gift aid for students to more than $3.6 million.
  • Early College Grows 33% at UMA:  Headcount in UMA’s early college programs grew from 397 students in the Fall of 2017 to 529 in the Fall of 2018.  A notable partnership is the new CIS/Cyber Fundamentals Certificate offered at Cony High School in Augusta. Six high school students are expected to have earned the twelve-credit certificate by June.
  • Rural Nursing Expansion:  UMA is proceeding with plans to bring a pre-licensure, BSN nursing program to Brunswick, Ellsworth, Rockland and Rumford in the Fall of 2019 as part of the Maine University Nursing Workforce Plan.
  • Investments in Student Success:  UMA has secured nearly $2 million in Title III Grant Aid to invest in strengthening student success including structured academic supports and financial literacy.  UMA is now providing its programs and student support services through 42 locations statewide and online.
  • Certificate and Program Advancements:  UMA is launching or pursuing a number of academic initiatives intended to increase the size and skills of the Maine workforce and address critical community needs.  Examples include:
    • Justice Studies Mediation Certificate, partnering with Maine Attorney General;
    • BS in Data Science in the intent to plan stage;
    • Shared Master of Science in Cybersecurity with USM as lead campus;
    • Graduate Certificate in Trauma and Emergency Response and Recovery being developed in a One University collaboration among four System campuses; and,
    • Tech Hire, 18-credit certificate.

“UMA prepares learners from all backgrounds, ages, and locations for life and leadership in our State,” said Dr. Rebecca Wyke, President of UMA.  “It is a privilege coming to work at a university where the commitment to student and state service is universal. I am proud of what we are accomplishing together, am grateful for the support we have earned from stakeholders across Maine, and honored to serve Maine and its students as president of this great institution.”

Expressions of Support for President Wyke

UMA Student General Assembly: The UMA General Assembly, the recognized governing body of UMA students, recommended a direct appointment for President Wyke following its consultation with Chancellor Page.  Jacquelyn Estrella, Chair of the General Assembly, shared with the Chancellor that President Wyke values student opinions deeply and always does what she can when presented with student concerns.  She also noted in her comments that it is very clear that President Wyke understands UMA and the unique population it serves well.

UMA Faculty Senate:  A March 8, 2019 letter to Chancellor Page from the UMA Faculty Senate noted that we could not find a better fit for UMA than President Wyke, an invested leader and strong advocate for the institution.  The letter indicated that 93% of the full-time UMA faculty who participated in a survey strongly supported a direct appointment of Dr. Wyke rather than a new search.

“President Wyke is providing the inclusive and innovative leadership we need to deliver more access and responsive support for our adult learners and traditional-aged and early college students.  She values our mission, our culture, and our students while still strengthening collaborations with our sister institutions. The faculty welcomed the opportunity to contribute to this important leadership discussion and applaud the decision by the Chancellor and the Board to proceed with a direct appointment for President Wyke.”

— Gillian Jordan, Associate Professor of English and UMA Faculty Senate President

UMA Board of Visitors:  In a March 6, 2019 letter to Chancellor Page the University of Maine at Augusta Board of Visitors endorsed a direct hire for Dr. Rebecca Wyke noting that she has proven she can successfully lead the UMA community.  They also noted that, as a long-term Augusta resident, Dr. Wyke is truly vested in the university’s success at many levels and that they could not be more pleased with her advocacy and performance as president of UMA.

“The appointment of Dr. Rebecca M. Wyke to continue to lead UMA is great news for the entire UMA community.  Becky brought immediate leadership, vision and stability to UMA and we are lucky to have someone of her caliber at the helm.

“The UMA Board of Visitors is thankful to the UMS Trustees for listening to the UMA community’s overwhelming support for Becky as president, and for placing their continued confidence in her leadership.”

— Andrew Silsby, President and Chief Executive Office of Kennebec Savings Bank and Chair of the UMA BOV

Distributed 4/8/19