More than 1,500 people — including esteemed guests and 200 inaugural student scholars — celebrated the formal installation on Dec. 2 of Glenn Cummings as the University of Southern Maine’s 13th president.
Held at the Gorham campus’ Costello Sports Complex, the event was kicked off by a processional headed up by bagpiper John Davis (a USM alumnus) and included visiting presidents from other universities, other dignitaries, USM staff who are also alumni, and faculty plus their nominated Inaugural Scholars.
The event featured a long list of dignitaries including James Page, the Chancellor of the University of Maine System, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and Mike Simonds, the CEO of Unum US. There were also video tributes by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.
Together, they praised Cummings’ optimism, intellect, humor and leadership.
“Make no mistake, Glenn Cummings is the right man at the right time for USM and for Portland,” Strimling said. “I worked alongside Dr. Cummings in Augusta, and I can tell you that his intellectual curiosity and his never-give-up approach to challenges form a powerful and effective combination.”
In a recorded message, Sen. King lauded Cummings and USM.
“I think the University of Southern Maine is taking off and I think Glenn is part of that solution,” King said. “You’re lucky to have Glenn leading you into the 21st century.”
Sen. Collins congratulated Cummings for his long record as an educator.
“Glenn has focused his talents on providing opportunity and raising the aspirations of all ages and from every background so that they can achieve their dreams,” Collins said.
That focus continued during the installation. The event’s official culmination came with Page’s presentation of the President’s medallion to Cummings. However, Cummings refocused the crowd’s attention to USM students and the honored scholars, each individually selected by a member of the faculty.
“Each reflect some great part of the university,” Cummings said. “These students here reflect our diversity, our dreams, our power, the barriers and the future of this university.”
During his address, Cummings talked about his grandmother’s pride in earning a degree from Gorham State Teacher’s College, a predecessor of USM.
“She kept her alumni magazine on her coffee table so that everyone would know that she was a college graduate. I loved that and so I loved USM early on,” he said.
His affection for USM has only deepened, he said.
“There’s no ‘I’ in USM,” he said. There’s only an ‘us’ in USM.”
“It is my delight to tell you that the faculty, the staff, the community and the state want us to succeed because we have the best mission of any university in the US,” he said.
Cummings was joined on stage by his son, Kiernan, and his daughter, Skylar. They spoke, as did David Cole, Gorham’s town manager, Carissa Robb, chair of USM’s Alumni Board, Tony Payne, the chair of the Board of Visitors, Terry Sutton, a trustee for the University of Maine System, and Danielle Conway, the dean of the University of Maine School of Law.
Representing USM’s students, Student Body President Humza Khan praised Cummings’ ability to lead by raising his words, rather than his voice.
“You have put USM on a path to success,” Khan said. “Alumni donations are up. Enrollment is increasing. Scholarship funds are on the rise and today at USM there is a sense of positivity and optimism. You have put together plans for the future, plans for strong sustainable development.”
The event was punctuated by stellar musical performances from USM's own School of Music students and faculty, including the USM Concert Band, Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, USM Chorale, and a quintet featuring a clarinet solo from USM faculty member Thomas Parchman.
The event followed Dec. 1’s inaugural kick-off luncheon at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College and a lecture in Portland by Lucille Benedict, an associate professor chemistry and the director of the Quality Control Collaboratory. Installation events concluded later on Dec. 2 with the 2016 School of Music's Scholarship Gala at Portland’s Westin Portland Harborview Hotel.
The events were featured in local media:
Full Replay: The Installation of President Glenn Cummings