AUGUSTA, Maine — House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick has been named president of Good Will-Hinckley campus in Fairfield, which includes several high-profile institutions.
Eves announced Tuesday that he has been in the running for the job for nine months and was selected unanimously by Good Will-Hinckley’s board of directors.
“I’m honored and excited about the opportunity to serve as president at Good Will-Hinckley,” said Eves in a written statement. “My firsthand experience in the field counseling struggling children and families has guided my work in the Legislature as speaker of the House and it will guide me as president at Good Will-Hinckley. … It is a great privilege to lead an institution which has improved the lives of at-risk youth for more than a century.”
Eves will be in charge of leading and building support for several institutions on the Good Will-Hinckley campus, including the Maine Academy of Natural Science, the Glenn Stratton Learning Center, the L.C. Bates Museum, the College Step-up Program and the Carnegie Library.
Gov. Paul LePage reacted to the news by writing a scathing letter to Good Will-Hinckley officials that contained a bevy of criticisms of Eves, ranging from Eves’ past opposition to charter schools to what LePage characterized as “sadly deficient” skills in “conflict resolution, leadership, negotiation and reconciliation.”
“On behalf of all who have worked so hard to ensure every Maine student has access to an education that is best suited to their individual needs, I must question your board’s decision to appoint a person so adamantly opposed to charter schools as president of the organization that runs one of Maine’s most prominent charter schools,” said LePage in the letter.
LePage alleged “unabashed political patronage” in the hiring process itself because Bill Brown, who works for Eves, is a member of the Good Will-Hinckley board, as is Rep. Erik Jorgensen, D-Portland. Eves’ response to that claim is that Brown and Jorgensen recused themselves from the vote to hire Eves.
Eves largely dodged questions about the governor’s criticisms but did address his past opposition to charter schools.
“Good Will-Hinckley has a long-standing tradition of helping kids who are at risk that’s unique and different from any other public or charter school,” said Eves, who in the past has been a counselor for at-risk children. “I’m very excited to be a part of that ongoing tradition and lead the organization to make sure they can continue to accomplish their mission of changing lives.”
Eves will be paid a salary of $120,000 per year, according to a spokesman for the school who said that salary was arrived upon after a study of the pay at similar institutions.
John Moore, chairman of the Good Will-Hinckley board of directors, was unequivocal in his support of Eves.
“Mark Eves’ professional credentials and career in psychology and family therapy, as well as his statewide policy and leadership experience as speaker of the Maine House of Representatives make him the best candidate to lead our school’s work creating opportunity for at-risk and nontraditional students from across Maine,” said Moore. “It was clear to our staff and our board of director throughout the extensive interview process that Mark is truly dedicated to helping families and children who are struggling and has dedicated his life to that work.”
Eves intends to start the new job on July 1, assuming the Legislature is adjourned by then, and said Tuesday that he will complete his term as speaker of the House and representative from North Berwick. Eves does not intend to move to Fairfield and will commute for the new job, at least as long as he is in the Legislature.
Eves will be forced out of his House seat by term limits next year. Eves isn’t the first House speaker to land a job at the Fairfield campus. Former Democratic Speaker Glenn Cummings was president of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences but was recently named president of the University of Southern Maine.