The University of Maine System has started the process of finding a president who will lead the system’s largest and smallest campuses.
The University of Maine System’s board of trustees on Monday approved an expanded 18-member search committee to find a replacement for University of Maine President Susan Hunter, who is expected to retire in June 2018.
Normally, these committees have a maximum of 15 members, but system officials agreed more people should be involved because of the unique expectations on the next president. One of the extra members will from UMM administration, the second will be a faculty member, and the third will be a member of the UMM board of visitors.
Hunter became the UMaine’s 20th president in June 2014 and is the first woman to lead the institution in its 150-year history. At the time, she was only expected to serve a two-year term.
Her job description grew dramatically in recent months, when UMaine and UMM entered a partnership that effectively brought the struggling Down East campus under the wing of the Orono flagship, with Hunter at the helm of both universities.
The board is still in the process of figuring out who will fill out the committee, but three trustees and three faculty representatives already are on board.
In another change of guard, the system announced Monday that Ryan Low, the system’s chief financial officer, has been appointed the system’s vice chancellor for finance and administration. Low will replace Rebecca Wyke, who left the vice chancellorship to take the helm as president of the University of Maine at Augusta earlier this month.
Low’s salary will be $210,000, up from $185,000, but the system has no plans to fill his previous post, UMS spokesman Dan Demeritt said Monday.
System officials plan to hire two new associate vice chancellors for academic affairs. Between the addition of those positions and the elimination of Low’s former role, the system office expects its total compensation to increase by about $31,000, Demeritt said.
In other business, the board approved a $3 million infrastructure project at the Darling Marine Center, a Walpole-based marine research hub focused in fisheries and ocean ecosystems. Half that amount comes from a federal matching grant, with $650,000 coming from a statewide voter-approved marine bond, and $850,000 from campus reserve funds.
The bulk of the funding, $1.7 million, will go toward replacing the pier at the center, which was built in the 1960s and is closed because of structural problems. The new 94-foot-long pier will be made of concrete, according to system officials.
“The existing pier has reached the end of its lifespan and its replacement is essential to maintaining marine research through support of vessel operations, diving, and other water dependent activities,” UMS officials wrote in board materials.
Another $1 million will go toward renovating the Flowing Seawater Laboratory, which conducts marine research by pumping seawater into the facility from a nearby estuary. The facility’s last major upgrade was 25 years ago. An additional $250,000 will be used to upgrade the pump system at the laboratory.