UMA President Allyson Handley to leave position for job in California

University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley
University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley
Posted Aug. 11, 2014, at 12:11 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 11, 2014, at 4:49 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley will be leaving her post at the beginning of September to take a job as executive director of the Sanford Education Center at National University in San Diego, California, the university announced Monday.

Handley, 67, has served as president of UMA since 2008. She previously served as senior policy advisor for postsecondary economic development initiatives in Kentucky, president of Cogswell College in California and president of Midway College in Kentucky, according to UMA’s website.

No interim president had been named Monday. Interim and search decisions will be made by University of Maine System Chancellor James Page, according to UMA director of external relations Robert Stein.

Handley is the third president of a University of Maine System campus to leave a within the last four months. Former University of Maine President Paul Ferguson announced in May he was taking a job as president of Ball State University in Indiana. Close to two months later, Page announced University of Southern Maine President Theodora Kalikow would leave her post to take a position at the system office.

Ferguson was replaced by Susan Hunter, the university system’s former vice chancellor for academic affairs. She will hold the position for two years. Kalikow was replaced at USM by former Central Maine Power CEO David Flanagan, who will serve for one year. A search process will take place for permanent presidents at both universities.

In a letter to faculty and staff that was sent Monday, Handley explained she is excited to take the position at the Sanford Education Center, which will open this fall and offer programs for teachers and nonprofit leaders, according to a National University press release.

She also said in her letter the move to California would bring her closer to her family, and she said she feels UMA has a strong leadership team in place to carry the university forward.

“There’s never a good time for a president to leave,” she said, adding she will miss the faculty and staff.

Handley said she’s particularly proud to have been able to highlight and serve “the particular needs of the students who have historically been called nontraditional — the working sons and daughters in Maine who are committed to this state and maybe didn’t have the opportunity to go to university right out of high school.”

Handley’s salary was listed at $170,000 in an April report on salaries across the university system.

UMA serves close to 5,000 students at campuses in Augusta and Bangor, though many of its students access classes online.

In a prepared statement, Page said Handley provided UMA with “legacy leadership.”

“She has achieved campus and community consensus around tough decisions, established important new programs for our students, and she has built a leadership team and infrastructure that will sustain the important work she began,” he said.

The statement from the system office listed developments at UMA that took place during Handley’s tenure:

— Creation of new programs in architecture, aviation and nursing.

— Formation of a forum on economic development in the Augusta region with the Kennebec Valley Community College.

— Expansion of distance and online learning and support for adult learners.

— Expansion of UMA’s programs for veterans.

— Establishment of Advancement and Alumni Office and the Office of Institutional Research.

Handley led UMA through a difficult period financially for the university system as a whole. Last spring, more than $22 million was cut from the budgets of the system’s seven campuses, including about $3 million from UMA.

Fourteen vacant positions were cut, 10 staff members were laid off and 33 staff members saw their hours reduced or positions turned from full time to part time.

In May, the system’s board of trustees praised Handley’s campus for being the only one that did not need to dip into reserves to pass a balanced fiscal year 2015 budget.

“It’s been painful,” she said Monday of the cuts. “We are well positioned because of those hard choices.”

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