PORTLAND — Selma Botman, the embattled University of Southern Maine president, has resigned.

Botman will lead an effort to expand and develop the University of Maine’s international education programs, a release sent out early this afternoon by Chancellor James H. Page said. She will retain her $203,000 annual salary.

If the University of Maine System’s board agrees early next week, Theo Kalikow, who just retired as head of the University of Maine at Farmington, will become USM president for a two-year term.

At an afternoon press conference, Botman said she felt that after four years as president, USM is “fiscally sound, it’s student-focused and it’s developed its ties to the community.”

Botman in recent months narrowly survived a no-confidence vote by the faculty and was the focus of criticism after The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram disclosed that she had given substanital salary increases to some staff members, with discretionary raises totalling nearly $1 million since becoming president.

The raises were criticized for coming at a time when the faculty had its wages frozen and USM was facing budget cuts.

Two of the raises were later recinded at the staff members’ requests.

Botman said four years was not a short time in office for university presidents these days and added that her new role is badly needed. She said most colleges and universities are interested in attracting international students because they bring diversity to campuses – and because they pay higher tuition than in-state students.

Page said that Botman suggesed new leadership was needed at USM and asked to be reassigned.

“I agree with her appraisal of the situation, appreciate her dedication to USM and support her request,” Page said.