BANGOR, Maine — University of Southern Maine President Theo Kalikow will leave her post to take a job at the University of Maine System, effective July 18, the system’s chancellor, James Page, announced through a news release Tuesday.

Kalikow, whose contract runs through June of 2015, will become acting vice chancellor and president emerita at the system office where she will lead a “community engagement initiative,” according to prepared statement released Tuesday. She will begin the job on Sept. 1, after a brief sabbatical, the system office said.

University officials have not named an interim replacement for Kalikow at USM, but said they plan to later this month.

Kalikow will be responsible for “the development of a strategic plan that defines community engagement in a public university setting in the 21st century.” She is responsible for “aligning the system’s priorities and resources with state and community interests” and for “maintaining strong communication across the university system,” according to the job description.

“Theo and I have decided it is time for her to move into a new role in her final year of service to the University of Maine System,” Page said in the statement. “Theo took on a difficult job at USM at my urging and handled the assignment with determination and grace. Nevertheless, we both recognize it is time for new leadership to address the university’s ongoing fiscal challenges, commence the implementation of the Metropolitan University Initiative, and best position USM for success under a new, permanent president.”

Kalikow will keep her $203,000 annual salary. Some of the responsibilities she will take on are those left by the former vice chancellor for academic affairs, Sue Hunter, who began working as the University of Maine’s first female president on Monday.

USM was tasked with cutting $14 million — or 10 percent of its fiscal year 2015 budget — after a financial analysis released in November showed that the university system would have a $60 million budget shortfall in five years if nothing changed. About $22.7 million was cut from the system’s seven campuses this year and $11.4 million was pulled from a rainy day fund to help campuses pay their bills. More cuts are expected in years to come.

An initial round of budget cuts and layoffs were met with faculty and student protests this spring. Kalikow rescinded 12 faculty layoffs in April and included faculty in budget decisions.

Last month, university system trustees approved $2.5 million in cuts at USM. Kalikow said another $12.5 million in cuts will be needed next year.

“The University of Southern Maine is an institution in the midst of a difficult transition,” Kalikow said in a statement. “However, I know we all share a commitment to the value and future of USM. It has been a privilege to serve this university and its students and I agree with Chancellor Page that it is time to bring new energy and a new perspective to the university.”

Kalikow, former president of the University of Maine at Farmington, took on the role as president of USM two years ago, after the departure of Selma Botman, who was the subject of a “no-confidence” vote by the faculty.

Botman also left the presidency with a year left on her contract and took a job within the system office. Her task with the system was to increase international student enrollment at the universities.

The only result of the new position was a 39-page report outlining a five-year plan for recruiting international students, according to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. Botman’s salary and benefits, plus those of an assistant and some additional expenses to support her work, cost the university system $363,028.

Page said Tuesday afternoon that Kalikow’s move was different from Botman’s.

“The real point here with Theo is that there is important work for her to be done at the system office to improve our strategic outcomes, especially with Sue Hunter going over to UMaine,” he said.

Nell Gluckman

Nell is the education reporter for the Bangor Daily News, but she will be helping out the political team by covering the 2nd Congressional District election this year. Before joining the Bangor Daily News...