MACHIAS, Maine — A former interim leader of the University of Maine at Machias will return to do the job again, University of Maine System Chancellor James Page announced Friday.
Sue Huseman, who served as the university’s acting president from 2003-2004, will come out of retirement to lead the system’s smallest campus in July and is expected to remain through the end of the year. Her tenure may be extended by up to two three-month periods after that.
“As was the case during her last term of service in Machias, this is a time of change,” Page said. “The difference in approach between then and now, however, could not be more pronounced given the responsibility the campus now has in setting its own course.”
Huseman, who splits her time between Unity and Melbourne, Florida, will be charged with continuing to build ties between the system’s smallest university and its largest.
The Machias campus has been struggling to maintain enrollment and drive revenue, forcing the system to subsidize its operations year after year. Those struggles prompted a “primary partnership” between UMM and the flagship campus in Orono.
That partnership will bring together leaders from both campuses, who will review administrative functions to find new ways to share resources. Another group of faculty and academic leaders will explore new models of enrollment and programs that could send students from the Orono campus to classes in Machias and vice versa. The system also plans to explore whether Machias could attract more Down East residents to graduate programs, especially in education. Page said there’s demand in the area for such programs and that competitors such as Husson University already have taken advantage of it.
“Our opportunities to thrive here in Machias as Maine’s coastal university have been limited for too long by the uncertainty of fiscal instability that comes from being ‘too small’ and ‘too remote,’” Huseman said in a news release. “I return to campus hopeful and optimistic about what the primary partnership can mean for UMM and UMaine.”
Early efforts to redirect students to Machias have shown some success. Page said 56 students are expected to attend UMM next year as part of a “placement arrangement” with UMaine.
Stuart Swain, provost and vice president of academic affairs, has been serving as president to this point in 2016. He took over late last year, after UMM’s then-acting President Joyce Hedlund resigned following heart surgery.
Huseman served in several other roles within the system before her retirement. After her time at UMM, she served as the chancellor’s senior adviser for international relations. She also has held positions including vice chancellor of academic affairs, acting president of the University of Maine at Farmington and directed the Center for Teaching Excellence at UMF.
Her annual salary will be $150,000.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.