BANGOR, Maine — When William Beardsley went to work for Husson College, he insisted on starting the job on Dec. 26, 1986, because he wanted his resume to read 1986 to 1987 in case he or the college didn’t make it through the year.
On Dec. 31, 2009, Beardsley, 67, of Ellsworth, locked his office door for the last time after more than 23 years at the helm of what is now Husson University.
Beardsley announced a year ago that he would be stepping down as president, but insisted he was not retiring. In an interview at his office on the Husson campus last month, Beardsley said he wanted to devote the next few years to ensuring that there are jobs in Maine for Husson’s future graduates. He did not say whether he would do that in the public or private sector.
On Friday, Beardsley filed paperwork with the Maine Ethics Commission that he plans to seek the Republican nomination for governor. He is expected to make a formal announcement later this week.
When Beardsley took over what in 1987 was a business college with a nursing school, it was $11.5 million in debt. A local bank headed by a Husson graduate had cut off the college’s line of credit, and federal regulators had threatened to start selling off the college’s assets if it didn’t quickly catch up on its deferred debt.
“The question was how to turn it around,” Beardsley said last month. “I signed every requisition over $5. I approved every book bought by the library. Every paycheck, I signed personally. Everybody pulled together, and we ended up that year with a $3,000 surplus. It was really exciting. We didn’t look back after that.”
During Beardsley’s tenure, student enrollment tripled to 3,200 and the degree offerings went from a handful of undergraduate offerings to more than 50, including graduate programs in business and health care-related fields. Last year, the School of Pharmacy began offering classes, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is considering whether to allow graduates of Husson’s proposed law school to take the Maine bar exam.
Buildings sprouted up on the 200-acre campus — a former dairy farm located between Broadway and Griffin Road — while Beardsley was president, including the Campus Center, Winkin Athletic Complex, the Dyke Center for Family Business and the recently completed Meeting House, which bears Beardsley’s name.
Although Husson has changed dramatically over the past two decades, its students have not, Beardsley said.
“I love those first-generation kids from rural Maine — to watch them evolve, grow up and go out in the world and become leaders in the community,” he said in December. “They are what I call the diamonds in the rough.”
Beardsley also said that his next job would be to see that there are quality jobs in the state for the next generation of Husson graduates.
He said last month that energy and transportation are the keys to growing Maine’s economy.
Robert A. Clark, a native of Albion, was named Beardsley’s successor in October. He was vice president for strategic initiatives at the University of Evansville, Ind., and director for the Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana before taking over as Husson president.