ORONO, Maine — Daniel Julius, the third finalist to interview for the University of Maine presidency, said the college’s future hinges on stable financial resources, but he doesn’t believe those resources could or should come from the state’s General Fund.
Julius, 60, vice president of academic affairs for the University of Alaska System, said if chosen to lead UMaine he would explore strategic partnerships within the state and seek to triple the size of the development staff.
“For me, it’s not about splitting up the pie, it’s about growing the pie,” Julius said Tuesday afternoon to a group of graduate students during the first day of his two-day interview on the Orono campus. “Without resources, we simply can’t be competitive.”
Julius has more than three decades of experience in academia, but he also has a private sector background in industrial labor relations. He has Maine ties, too.
“I lived on Peaks Island [off the coast of Portland] in the ’90s and fell in love with the state,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get back since.”
He and the three other finalists are seeking to succeed current UMaine President Robert Kennedy, who is stepping down in June. The new president is expected to take over in early July.
The first finalist, James Page, CEO of Sewall Co. in Old Town, visited the university in late January. The second, Donald Farish, president of Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., visited last week. Paul Ferguson, vice president for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, is scheduled to be in Maine Feb. 16-17.
Julius has held his current job for the last four years. Before that, he was provost and vice president for Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., from 2003 to 2007. In an ideal world, he said he would stay with the University of Alaska System a little longer before moving on, but a shot at the UMaine presidency was too good to pass up.
“I’m not in any other searches,” he said. “This is the job I want.”
Julius fielded questions from graduate students for about an hour Tuesday before dining with selected representatives of the board of visitors, the Alumni Association and University of Maine Foundation. He also had a full day of meetings and interviews scheduled for Wednesday, as well as a one-on-one meeting with UM System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude.
Most of the questions Tuesday centered on the stark financial realities facing the university, something Julius said he has seen in Alaska and elsewhere.
In addition to partnering with regional institutions, Julius said he would explore creating endowed chairs, in which highly qualified faculty are paid by private endowment funds rather than public university money.
He said globalization has changed the face of higher education, but it also has created opportunities in that university research can lead to economic development across the globe.
Julius also was asked about a president’s role in shaping the future success of a college or university.
“I think it’s to set the symbolic tone, but I wouldn’t micromanage,” he said. “A presidency is a position with a great deal of status but very little authority. If you have to invoke authority, you’ve lost them.”
Addressing possible changes, Julius said he would not seek to shake things up just to put his stamp on the presidency. He said he would rely heavily on staff recommendations and measured research before making decisions that could affect education.
“I’ve always put the institution over the individual,” Julius said.