University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings has decided to step down as president at the end of June 2022 after the conclusion of the current academic year. He would return to the USM faculty after his presidency.
Cummings informed the University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy and the UMS Board of Trustees of his decision in separate letters.
“I respect President Cummings’ request to leave the USM presidency on a high note and return to the faculty. He can be proud of the legacy he’s built throughout his presidency to position the University of Southern Maine for further success in the University of Maine System,” Malloy said. “In all the time I’ve known him, Glenn has never wavered in his focus on USM’s students and their success. On behalf of all of UMS, I want to thank him for his service and leadership.”
Cummings’ tenure as president will conclude on June 30, 2022. He has requested to return to the faculty as a professor of public policy and educational leadership, which is subject to UMS Board of Trustees approval. Cummings has served as the president of the University of Southern Maine for seven years. He also served one year as the president of the University of Maine at Augusta.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve the students of the University of Southern Maine as president,” Cummings said. "Together, we have accomplished what we promised. We have restored USM to a thriving University that serves Maine and beyond. I am proud of the faculty, staff and thousands of supporting members of the USM community who work tenaciously on behalf of our students and the institution. Thanks to them, the University of Southern Maine is strong and getting stronger. I’m excited for what the future holds for the University of Southern Maine, and I’m excited to explore new opportunities and new challenges both professionally and personally.”
During Cummings’ time as president, the University of Southern Maine has:
Set institutional records in out-of-state enrollment and seen enrollment grow;
Received national recognition for improvement in student retention;
Accomplished unprecedented philanthropic fund-raising, including raising almost $9 million for the Promise Scholars Program, which ensures first-generation scholars can graduate in four years, debt free.
Launched the largest construction project in USM history and one that will transform the student experience on the Portland campus. In 2023, USM will complete a 580-bed residence hall and a 42,000-square-foot Career and Student Success Center along with a green quad that will replace what was once a tarred parking lot.
Laid the foundation for a new Center for the Arts and home to the newly named Dr. Alfred and D. Suzi Osher School of Music School – just one of USM’s signature programs of excellence.
Invested in the Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn campuses. More than $11 million of deferred maintenance and upgrades went into the Gorham campus, including the preservation of the historic academy building and art gallery. An additional $300,000 has been reserved for the “LA to BA” initiative at the Lewiston-Auburn College.
Rebuilt trust and a values-driven community by putting USM’s students at the center.
Today, more students are choosing USM as their first-choice school with 16% of the incoming class holding a 4.0 grade point average.
USM is the most diverse university in the state and growing:
The Honors Program has multiplied from 50 students to more than 400.
The Early College program has nearly tripled in size since 2015.
The retention has improved by 7%, a testament to an emphasis on student advising and scholarship programs.
USM is emerging as a state-wide leader in the difficult, but crucial, work of building an equitable, inclusive and anti-racist institution.
“During his time at USM, President Cummings – along with the USM faculty and staff – has changed the lives of thousands of students for the better,” said Mark Gardner, chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees and a graduate of the University of Southern Maine. “The University of Southern Maine is dynamic and diverse, and an important part of the university system and the Gorham, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland communities.”
The announcement of President Cummings’ decision this week will give USM the opportunity to seek UMS Board of Trustees approval to launch a comprehensive, national search for a new president and allow for a seamless transition of leadership.
“The president of a university is the public face, but the success of any organization depends on the quality of hundreds of people who work tirelessly to change the lives of our students for the better,” Cummings said. "When I joined the University of Maine System as a president, I promised to serve five years. At the end of my tenure next year, I will have served as a University of Maine System president for eight. Now is the right time for a transition to new leadership for the university, and it’s the right time for me personally. The university is much bigger than any single person. Its strength comes from many people working together for a purpose larger than themselves. At our best, we are but trusted servants. It is my hope that I have met that standard.”
Cummings began his academic career in Gorham as a high school history teacher and department head. He served as a faculty member at the Southern Maine Community College and was a long-serving member of the USM faculty, most recently as an assistant professor of Educational Leadership, teaching in the masters and doctoral degree programs. Prior to becoming President of USM, Cummings served as Interim President of the University of Maine at Augusta.
Cummings served President Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Education. There he helped manage a $1.9 billion annual budget that focused on improving access to adult education and literacy training, career and technical education, and community colleges.
In 2010, Cummings took over as President and Executive Director of Good Will-Hinckley, an 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. The state-wide, residential school focuses on environmental education, agriculture and forestry.
Cummings is a former Speaker of the House in the Maine House of Representatives, Majority Leader, and Chairman of the state’s Joint Committee of Education and Cultural Affairs, where he sponsored the successful bill to create the state community college system.
Cummings obtained his Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. He previously earned a Masters of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University.
In their words:
“President Cummings' leadership empowers everyone around him. From his first day at USM, he listened, respected and inspired the entire Husky community. The results of his collaborative spirit shine brightly on our entire state. I thank Glenn for his tireless efforts, and for believing in USM's full potential.”
USM Foundation Board Member
Founder, Full Plates Full Potential
“As president, Glenn Cummings has been a relentless advocate for USM, shining a positive light on what makes the university special and encouraging people and organizations from all over the state to become more involved. He has led the university through incredible challenges, while helping it to grow and better serve students. As alumni, we are so grateful for Glenn’s leadership and support over the years.”
Kate Beever ‘07
President, USM Alumni Engagement Council
Founder, Maine Music & Health
“Having known Glenn and his work for Maine in many capacities, I was very supportive of his appointment as USM's president. His achievements to create a team and lead them to record success in recruitment, retention and degree completion has been extraordinary. Combined with an increasingly strong financial position, Glenn advanced USM throughout an especially turbulent time in American higher education and not only stabilized but deeply strengthened USM's position as a choice public university. Glenn has positioned USM for success and opens an opportunity for future leadership to drive the Portland, Gorham and Lewiston Auburn campuses forward as significant contributors to Maine's future.”
Rebecca Swanson Conrad
Vice-Chair, USM Board of Visitors
Principal, RSC Consulting
Former President & CEO, Lewiston-Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
“As a champion for USM and its signature music program for over 30 years, I can definitively say that these last years under President Glenn Cummings’ tenure have been transformational. The USM of today is unrecognizable compared to 5 years ago and none of it could have happened without his exceptional leadership. As Chair of the USM Foundation board, I can say that working closely with President Cummings has been a privilege and together we have achieved unprecedented fundraising success for the University of Southern Maine. I look forward to the remainder of his term as we continue to build the great university that our communities and this great state need. It will be tough to replace his leadership, but I wish him all the best in his next chapter.”
Board Chair, University of Southern Maine Foundation
President & Chairman, Bob Crewe Foundation
“President Cummings understands the importance of partnership and collaboration. During his time at the University of Southern Maine, he’s been a conduit for the business community to connect with the school, and he and his team have prioritized helping students to get hands-on experience in the community. Glenn is a strong leader, a committed educator and a wonderful person. He has always centered USM’s students in his decisions, while building bridges between the university and the communities it serves.”
President and CEO, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce
“President Cummings has been an incredible ally to the Student Government Association during these unprecedented times. His fortitude and commitment to students exemplify what it really means to be a university president. His dedication to putting students first has made the University of Southern Maine a welcoming environment for many students, including myself.”
Student Body President
University of Southern Maine
“Since 2015, the University of Southern Maine has seen tremendous growth under the transformational leadership of President Glenn Cummings- enormously talented faculty & staff, enrollment and retention growth, record-breaking philanthropy, deep community engagement and a relentless focus on student experience. I have never been more proud to be an alumnus of USM.”
Luc Nya ’96, ‘99G, ‘08G
Board Chair, USM Board of Visitors
“I first heard about Glenn Cummings when our son, then a senior at Gorham High School, raved about his Economics teacher. His knowledge and passion for teaching inspired and motivated students but he also held them to high standards. In the 35 years that I’ve known him, Glenn Cummings has been tenacious about leading change in areas that no longer work for students. Glenn has led USM by inspiring and motivating those within the broader USM community to do what is best for students and therefore the organization. As a member of the Gorham Schools and Business Roundtable, Glenn has worked with local leaders to strengthen and broaden USM’s commitment to the Gorham community and schools. Glenn's passion, knowledge, commitment to students, to the greater community, and to the institution itself has led to an unprecedented revival of the University of Southern Maine.”
Facilitator - Gorham Schools and Business Roundtable
“President Cummings has been a visionary leader for the University of Southern Maine. I live in the USM neighborhood and get to see daily the positive changes he and his team have made as the campus becomes more open and integrated with the city neighborhoods around it. One of the biggest accomplishments underway is the addition of new, quality student housing. Not only will this make the city more affordable for USM students and create new energy and vitality on Forest Avenue, it also means that more apartments in the city will remain available for people who want to live here. Glenn deserves tremendous credit for the work he has done and the future he has made possible for the University of Southern Maine.”
Kate Snyder ‘08G
Mayor, City of Portland, Maine
“Dr. Glenn Cummings took over as President of USM at a difficult time and has succeeded by almost every measure. Under his leadership, more students choose USM for college and more graduate. His hard work with the legislature and donors has transformed the Portland campus and raised the school’s profile in the city and the region. Most importantly, his clear competence, persistent optimism, and genuine respect for others have won the trust of faculty, staff, and students. USM and the State of Maine owe him a profound debt of gratitude for his transformational service. We will miss the stability that his tenure as president has provided to our institution.”
Dr. Shelton Waldrep
Distinguished Professor and Chair of English
Chair of the Faculty Senate
University of Southern Maine