April 05, 2020

Chancellor wants Huggins to keep top UMM job

MACHIAS – Cynthia Huggins, who has been serving the University of Maine at Machias as its president on a fixed-length appointment, apparently is here to stay.

She will be recommended for an ongoing appointment by the University of Maine System’s chancellor at next month’s meeting of the system’s trustees. The Nov. 6 meeting takes place at UMM.

Chancellor Terrence MacTaggart visited the campus Friday to make the announcement to the campus community.

“Cindy has my wholehearted and unqualified support,” MacTaggart said to faculty, staff, students and even community members who turned out for the Friday afternoon meeting.

“It’s no news to anybody that UMM is in a turnaround process,” the chancellor said. “You are very, very well-poised to move forward with Cindy. UMM has so much to offer, and you will see this star [UMM] continue to rise.”

The an-nouncement comes just two months after UMM was ranked by U.S. News and World Report magazine for the third straight year among the country’s comprehensive public colleges in the north region.

Huggins has been serving as UMM’s president on a two-year appointment, which would have expired next June.

“This is a good move,” UMM professor Jon Reisman, chairman of the campus professional studies division, said Friday. “This raises the cloud of uncertainty over the campus.”

UMM had a forward-thinking, well-respected president in the region in John Joseph for two years – until his sudden death at the campus’ commencement activities on May 10, 2003.

That loss of leadership was felt well beyond the campus on Dublin Hill, into the town of Machias and even Washington County.

Sue Huseman, former system vice chancellor, moved over from the chancellor’s office in 2003 to be UMM’s interim president for 18 months. Then Huggins moved into the president’s office, albeit temporarily, in January 2005.

Huseman visited the UMM campus – and Huggins – just last month as a special guest at UMM’s homecoming.

If MacTaggart’s recommendation is approved by the trustees, Huggins will be given a two-year renewable appointment, which is standard practice for University of Maine System university presidents.”I love this job,” a casual and beaming Huggins told those at the meeting. “I love leading this small, stubborn, strong-working, outspoken campus.

“There is a spirit here, a real humanity here,” she continued. “This campus is different. I would not have accepted this position if I didn’t feel I could be a leader here.

“I promise you I will give UMM everything I’ve got, in return for your continued support,” Huggins said.

MacTaggart’s decision follows a recent assessment of the UMM community’s preferences regarding a presidential search. That review was conducted two weeks ago by Allen Berger, vice president and provost of the University of Maine at Farmington.

“There is clearly a high level of [community] commitment to the future of [UMM],” MacTaggart noted in a memo issued Thursday to UMM’s faculty and staff.

“It was also clear that there is great regard for the work that Dr. Huggins has done as president, and great support for her to continue.”

Before becoming the UMM president, Huggins, 50, had served UMM as interim

president, acting vice

president for academic affairs, and co-chairwoman of the university’s arts and

letters division.

A professor of English, she joined the UMM faculty in 1997.

She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in English literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Furman University in South Carolina.

Her community involvement includes three years of service on the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce board, and current membership as a trustee of the Centre Street Congregational Church. She lives in Machias.

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