University of Maine at Augusta announced a new full-time president Wednesday

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:01 PM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 6:10 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - It’s the beginning of a new chapter for the University of Maine at Augusta, as they announce their new President.

For the last 2 years, the university has been without a permanent placement for the role, and now they believe they’ve found the right fit.

Search Committe Chair, Roger Katz said, “Well, the search was thorough. We had applications from all over the United States, dozens and dozens of applications. We whittled them down to 13 semi-finalists, I think, interviewed each of those people over zoom. I selected three people that actually come to campus including Dr. Cushman and Dr. Chrisman came here and met with faculty and staff and with the students in the community and just knocked it out of the park. So, we’re thrilled that she’s coming.”

Dr. Jenifer Cushman comes to UMA from her previous position as Chancellor and associate professor at Penn State Beaver.

As UMA prides itself as a leader in long-distance education, Cushman sees the opportunity to build an even stronger long-distance learning system.

“I was interested in this position because UMA is the institution of the future. I’m firmly convinced of this. Higher education is changing, and the pandemic may have sped up those changes. But they’ve been coming for a long time. Colleges and universities need to change the experience of learning a bachelor’s degree that aligns more with what University of Maine at Augusta is doing. We have to move as a country towards a kind of on demand education model that all learners can access when and where they need it and provide credentials along the way that stand on their own as well.”

Folks around campus and the Augusta community are excited with the news, including the interim President.

In addition to his duties as Provost and VP of academic affairs at UMA, Joseph Szakas has been their acting President over the couple of years.

As this announcement comes, he is happy to “pass the baton” to Cushman.

Szakas said, “There’s some relief, there’s some excitement. But I’ll say this, it was an honor to be the president of this institution and I look forward to everyday working because we were doing good things for students, and I feel good about what we did as a team, and I’m fortunate to have some really great people here you UMA who will help, who helped me the last few years and who will help the new president, be successful as well. I’m excited about it. I mean you always are hoping for a person who understands who we are and will advocate for us and for the good of the students, and I think we have a good selection here.”