Senator Angus King joins USM community to dedicate Dr. Glenn A. Cummings Courtyard

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The vision for a thriving, transformed University of Southern Maine campus in Portland was just a gleam in the eye of former USM President Glenn Cummings when he took the helm in 2015. 

Working with many others during his seven-year tenure, Cummings helped usher in an era of renewed optimism for the University, which has continued in momentum under his successor’s leadership, USM’s 14th President, Dr. Jacqueline Edmondson.

On Friday, June 21, Cummings returned to the Portland Campus for the dedication of a new green space named in his honor, the Dr. Glenn A. Cummings Courtyard. 

Dr. Glenn Cummings hugs his children during the dedication ceremony naming the new USM courtyard in his honor.

Hundreds of community members, including friends and neighbors, USM staff and faculty, former students, colleagues from the Maine Legislature, and notable guests, such as United States Sen. Angus King, celebrated the dedication with Cummings and his family.

“It is one of the greatest professional honors of my life to be recognized by the university that means so much to my family and that plays such a powerful role in our state,” said Cummings. “My grandmother graduated from what is now USM in 1928 and my son in 2018.  I thank the USM community for the honor of serving as a professor and leader in a place that will forever sit at the center of my heart.”

The courtyard sits at the heart of a number of projects that Dr. Cummings initiated as President: the new McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success; the Portland Commons Residence Hall; the Bean Green campus quad; and Crewe Center for the Arts, slated to open in fall 2025.

USM President Jacqueline Edmondson, center, sits with Dr. Glenn Cummings, left, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, right, during the June 21 dedication ceremony.

President Edmondson welcomed the gathering, saying, “Glenn understood that great communities like ours are anchored by great universities. He set that vision for USM in motion, and it is still unfolding before our eyes. This courtyard represents one piece of the largest campus development project in USM’s history… creating a place of pride and engagement for the wider southern Maine region.”

“The dedication of the Dr. Glenn A. Cummings Courtyard marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the University of Southern Maine’s campus, and makes a clear statement: USM is a community and place for ideas and people to come together,” said Sen. King. “Dr. Cummings represents the very best of Maine with his unwavering commitment to student success. This courtyard will build on his success and is a fantastic addition to the university atmosphere. As we celebrate Dr. Cumming’s enduring legacy, let us recommit ourselves to working on behalf of our children and fostering the next generation of academic excellence in Maine.”

Other speakers included recent USM graduate, Joshua Mutshaila ’24, who shared his experience as a Promise Scholar. Cummings was instrumental in creating USM’s unique Promise Scholarship program, a comprehensive program that widens access to higher education for many disadvantaged, first-generation Maine students and enables them to graduate with little or no debt. 

Joshua Mutshaila ’24 speaks during the dedication ceremony.

The event also included remarks by George Smith, Founder and President Emeritus of the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, and Cummings’ son and daughter, Kiernan ‘22 and Skylar Cummings, who introduced their father.

The newly named Dr. Glenn A. Cummings Courtyard is a half-acre, semi-enclosed space accessible from the Bean Green in front of the McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success. Adjacent to the McGoldrick Center and the new Portland Commons Residence Hall, the courtyard is an ideal outdoor gathering spot for the nearly 600 students who live in the residence hall, USM’s first on the Portland Campus. 

As USM’s 13th president, Cummings prioritized environmental stewardship and responsibility when it came to the University’s sustainability goals and practices. The Portland campus development project, at nearly $100 million is the largest in USM’s history, achieved high marks, winning national awards for smart, energy efficient design. The new buildings are constructed to the highest sustainability standards to date on USM’s campus.

About Dr. Glenn A. Cummings

Glenn Cummings began his academic career in Gorham as a high school history teacher and department head. He served as a faculty member at Southern Maine Community College and was a long-serving member of the USM faculty. 

In 2010, Cummings took over as President and Executive Director of Good Will-Hinckley, a historic 121-year-old school for high school youth located on a 2,400-acre campus in Hinckley, Maine. Under his tenure, the organization used a $10.5 million philanthropic contribution from the Harold Alfond Foundation to create the first charter school in Maine history, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences. 

Prior to becoming USM’s 13th president in 2015, Cummings served as Interim President of the University of Maine at Augusta. 

Cummings’ esteemed career in public service includes serving in the Maine House of Representatives, where he was Speaker of the House and Majority Leader, among other leadership roles.

He later served President Barack Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Education. 

Cummings obtained his Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. He previously earned a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University.