The University of Maine System (UMS) Board of Trustees has formed the committee tasked with finding a new president for the University of Southern Maine (USM). Current President Glenn Cummings announced in October that he would be stepping down July 1 to return to a faculty position within USM.
Seventeen individuals representing students, faculty, staff, alumni and other USM constituencies were appointed to the USM Presidential Search Committee, chaired by UMS Trustee James Erwin. Thirteen members of the committee were selected by the USM constituencies they represent.
The committee will work with Academic Search, a Washington, D.C.–based consulting firm, to identify the ideal candidate to lead USM through its many initiatives, including transformational infrastructure projects and unprecedented fundraising efforts, as well as serve all Huskies in Portland, Gorham, Lewiston-Auburn and beyond. Its first of several meetings is expected to be held in mid-December.
“Our search process will be thorough, inclusive, equitable and orderly, with multiple opportunities for input,” Erwin says. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to express my gratitude to those who have agreed to serve on the search committee and to those who take the time to provide us with input and perspective. I look forward to a successful search to find the next leader of USM.”
Mr. James Erwin leads Pierce Atwood’s Employment Group. His practice involves the defense of employment discrimination, including retaliation and whistleblower claims, as well as wage-hour claims and class actions, defamation claims, and labor arbitrations.
Mr. Erwin counsels healthcare, higher education, and private sector employers on a wide range of workplace issues, conducts training sessions on harassment and other workplace issues, and performs investigations for employers. He also advocates for employers before the Maine State Legislature and administrative agencies on issues of public policy.
Before joining Pierce Atwood he served for five years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maine. In that capacity he prosecuted homicides statewide and advised multiple state agencies on law enforcement matters. In 1985, Jim was also appointed by the Governor to serve as a member of the Maine Human Rights Commission, Maine’s Fair Employment Practice commission. He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has a B.A from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law. Jim lives in Yarmouth. He and his wife Eileen have three children.
Lisa Marchese Eames graduated from Bangor High School in 1977. In 1981, she received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Maine at Orono. In 1986, she received her law degree from UNH Law, formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire. Following graduation, Lisa was hired to work in the Criminal Division of the Maine Attorney General’s office. As a member of the Criminal Division, Lisa taught for many years at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and handled extradition cases for several Governors. She has prosecuted all types of criminal cases from OUI to welfare fraud to sexual assault to murder.
For several years, Lisa served as the State’s first Statewide Drug Coordinator for drug prosecution matters. In 1997, Lisa became one of four statewide homicide prosecutors in the State. In that capacity, she has handled over 100 cases involving murder or manslaughter charges. A substantial number of those cases have been complicated jury trials involving technical forensic evidence such as DNA, ballistics, fingerprints, pathology and state of mind.
Lisa has chaired the Domestic Violence Homicide Review panel for the past decade. This legislatively mandated panel examines all domestic violence related homicides in search of ways to reduce the number of people who die as a result of domestic abuse. Lisa has also served on the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking working group and as the Attorney General’s designee on the Rules of Evidence Advisory Committee. In 2001, The Maine Child Abuse Action Network awarded Lisa the Professional of the Year Award. In May of 2007, Port City Life, a Maine magazine ran an article entitled “At Home with Homicide”. In 2010, Lisa was awarded the prestigious Caroline Duby Glassman Award by the Women’s Law Section of the Maine State Bar Association.
In 2014, Lisa was promoted to Deputy Attorney General, Chief of the Criminal Division. Lisa is married to Jon Eames and they reside in Cumberland. They have 3 adult sons.
Roger Katz grew up in Augusta and is a proud graduate of Cony High School, Harvard College, and Boston University School of Law. He served as road manager for singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor and for Boston concert promoter Don Law. Following law school, Katz worked for Congressman David Emery and clerked for a Maryland Circuit Court judge.
Katz returned to Maine in 1977 and began his current practice of law with friends he had known since nursery school, with concentrations in litigation, family law, criminal defense, and private mediation. A former President of the Maine Trial Lawyers Association, he currently serves as a commissioner for the Maine Indigent Legal Services Commission. Katz served as Campaign Chair of the Kennebec Valley United Way, President of the Kennebec Valley YMCA, co- chair of the Augusta Bicentennial Committee, and Chair of the Augusta Charter Commission. He is the recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award from Le Club Calumet as well as the Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year Award.
In 2006, Katz was elected Mayor of Augusta and was a consistent advocate for revitalization of Augusta’s riverfront and downtown. In 2010, Katz ran for and won a seat in the Maine State Senate. He served four consecutive terms, serving on the Appropriations Committee and as Chair of the Government Oversight Committee. Additionally, for many years Katz was the co-host of “The Maine Event,” a television show on Maine Public exploring political and public policy issues.
Katz is particularly honored to serve as a UMS trustee because his father Bennett, was instrumental in the founding of UMA during his time in the Maine Senate, and also served as a trustee. Katz has two adult children, Jonathan and Shari, and lives in Brunswick with his wife Ericka and their dog Hudson.
Jerry LaSala is Professor of Physics at USM. He has been a member of the USM Physics Department since 1987 and has served as Chair of Physics for 15 of those years. He also served as Director of USM’s Southworth Planetarium from 2000 until the Planetarium was closed to the public in 2020 due to the covid pandemic. He was chair of the Faculty Senate for five years during the period 2009-2016. Jerry served on the Presidential Search Committee that hired President Cummings. He holds degrees in astronomy and physics from Yale, Rutgers, and Dartmouth.
PhD in Accounting, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University Montreal, CA 2018
M.A. in Economics, Concordia University Montreal, CA 2012
B.A. in Financial Management, University of Tehran, Iran 2008
Dr. Ronald Schmidt is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science. Professor Schmidt received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the University of Southern Maine in 1999.
Ph. D. University of California, Berkeley (1998)
M.A. University of California, Berkeley (1990)
B.A. University of California, Berkeley (1988)
Brianna (Bri) L. Demaso (she/her) is from Brewer, Maine and a Junior double major in Business Management and Marketing with a Theatre minor at the University of Southern Maine. She will be serving as the Primary Undergraduate Representative for the USM Presidential Search Committee.
Bri brings a plethora of unique experience and educational insight to the committee, as she is currently the USM Student Body Vice President, an At-Large Student Senator, an Admissions Ambassador, a Lead Orientation Leader, the Chair of the Senate's Public Relations Committee, and has previously worked on a variety of projects for both the President's office and the Gorham Student Affairs team. By working within multiple different departments at the university, she is incredibly honored and confident in her ability to help elect a new president that will be an exquisite fit for the University of Southern Maine.
Hannah is a junior majoring in Communications with a Tourism and Hospitality minor. Hannah is currently the Student Senate Clerk, an At-Large Student Senator, a USM Ambassador, an Orientation Leader, the chair of the Lewiston Auburn Committee, and a Student Director of Student Life. Hannah works at the Student Engagement and Leadership Office and always brings new ideas to the table.
Samreena is a student in USM's Master's in Policy, Planning, and Management (MPPM) and has a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Maine. Samreena has professional experience in the insurance and risk management industry, and is an engaged member of the USM community, serving on the Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Council (IDEC) and as a Graduate Assistant in the Muskie School of Public Service.
tk, MS in Education from Eastern Illinois University, has over a half-decade of community engagement experience in contexts as wide as service-learning courses, voter registration engagement, creating co-curricular service programming experience, coordinating service scholarship experiences, and student advocacy.
Danielle Letourneau is a neurodivergent mother, artist, and writer who joined the University of Southern Maine in 2007. She first came to USM as a high school student taking early aspiration classes, then proceeded to earn her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Upon completion of her Master's degree in Creative Writing in 2015, Danielle became a USM staff member on the Lewiston campus.
She is passionate about DEI and focuses in the areas of neurodiversity, parenthood, and disability. In her free time, she volunteers in various capacities and enjoys spending time with her little family.
Dr. Joanne Williams is in her 15th year at USM and currently serves as Dean of the College of Management & Human Service. She previously served as a faculty member and department chair in the School of Business and was responsible for teaching in the Sport Management program. Prior to her appointment at USM, Dr. Williams spent 10 years at Nichols College in Dudley, MA where she was also responsible for creating a new sport management program.
Dr. Williams has extensive experience in discipline specific accreditation and has served as a Commissioner and/or site team reviewer for business and sport management education. Her research interests are in sport and destination marketing, sponsorship, experiential learning, and the college student-athlete experience. Dr. Williams has a wide range of experience in the sport marketing, sponsorship and event management fields including management of professional golf, tennis and international field hockey events.
Board of Visitors
Jana Lapoint has been an active member in the USM community, as a volunteer for the University Of Southern Maine School Of Music and USM Board of Visitors. Jana earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree with high honors from the University of Bridgeport. She is a former business teacher and taught at the New Canaan High School.
Jana previously owned Lapoint Industries in Auburn, Maine and served as a trustee on the Maine Community College System board for 11 years, with two years as Chair. She also served the Maine Charter School Board for 10 years, for 6 years as a Trustee of Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts, and 6 years as a trustee of Cheverus High School. Jana received a Distinguished Service Award from Dean College and a Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Maine.
She has been on the State Board of Education for 8 years. Jana also served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity for 8 years and has been a volunteer for Ronald McDonald House of Portland for many years. Jana is a resident of Falmouth.
USM Alumni & Community
Lois Skillings is the President of Mid Coast–Parkview Health, a non-profit community healthcare system located in Brunswick, Maine.
Lois leads the organization’s senior executive team and is responsible for the strategic and operational performance of the Mid Coast–Parkview Health system, which in now part of MaineHealth. With 2,000 employees and more than 200 members on its active medical staff, Mid Coast–Parkview Health includes Mid Coast Hospital, a full-service 93-bed hospital with 22 primary and specialty care physician practices, as well as Mid Coast Senior Health and CHANS Home Health & Hospice.
Lois has worked for Mid Coast–Parkview Health and its predecessors for 40 years. Prior to being named President, she was the Chief Nurse and Vice President of Nursing and Patient Services. In 2011, she led an extensive community-wide planning effort with input from 1,000 community members to develop a road map for the future of healthcare in the Midcoast region.
In 2015, Lois led the integration of Parkview Adventist Medical Center into the Mid Coast system, uniting the region’s healthcare around a common vision for improving the health of the community, significantly reducing costs, and strengthening the healthcare delivery system. In 2020, Lois led Mid Coast–Parkview Health’s integration with MaineHealth in order to ensure clinical excellence and high-quality healthcare in this community for generations to come.
Trained as an Emergency and Medical-Surgical nurse, Lois earned her nursing degree at Northeastern University College of Nursing and her master’s degree in Nursing Administration from the University of Southern Maine. She completed a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship in 2011 and was recognized as one of Mainebiz Magazine’s Women to Watch in 2015.
Dean Murray ’87 graduated from USM with a BS in Business Administration, and then obtained his JD from Massachusetts School of Law. In his current role with Electric Insurance Company (EIC), Dean manages executive accountability for Regulatory Compliance, Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), Statistical & Financial reporting, government affairs, licensing and inclusion and diversity for EIC and its subsidiaries. Previously, Dean worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, The Stop and Shop Supermarket Companies, Inc., and as vice president and COO of Massachusetts Medical Services. He serves on the board of The North Shore Chamber of Commerce and NFI North. Dean joined the USM Foundation board in 2021, is a volunteer leader for fundraising in risk management and insurance, and recently joined the Department of Athletics volunteer council on equity, inclusion and diversity.
Julia Sleeper-Whiting is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tree Street Youth Center. Born and raised in the Bangor area, she initially moved to Lewiston as an undergraduate at Bates College. During her time as a student, she began connecting to the Downtown Lewiston community youth through service learning opportunities afforded to her as a Psychology and Education major. Over the past 10 years, Julia has continued to build on the relationships formed as an undergrad, seeking to provide valuable programming to at-risk youth in Lewiston-Auburn.
After completing her Masters in Leadership and Organizational Studies at USM-LAC, she began the present-day Tree Street Youth. The once grassroots center has now grown to a hub for leadership exploration and growth built on the foundation of centering then voices of Lewiston’s youth while becoming a thought leader across the state of Maine in the fields of Education, Juvenile Justice, Youth Development, Racial Equity, In/Out of School Academic Success, and Workforce Development.
Vendean served as the Chief Judge of the Maine District Court and as a District Court Judge for ten years, the first woman Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Maine and a Commissioner on the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
She was in private practice at Bernstein Shur and was a lobbyist for the Maine Women’s Lobby.
Vendean worked as the Special Counsel to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees of the University Maine System and she served as University Counsel prior to becoming a judge. She continues her work as a consultant to executive directors, higher educational leaders and boards of directors focusing on strategic positioning and leadership development. She is currently completing her work to develop the structure and institutional operation of the Osher Map Library Foundation.
Currently, she is the Co-Chair of the Attorney General’s Office Deadly Force Review Panel. Vendean is a graduate of USM and the University of Maine School of Law.