There was something missing from the announcement that Selma Botman was leaving her post as president of the University of Southern Maine: It’s called accountability.

Botman took over USM in 2008, and gets credit for bringing the university campus back to financial order after several years of deficits and enrollment decline. Botman made some tough decisions that were not always popular with faculty, students and some members of the community, but she came into a situation that called for fiscal discipline.

It is also clear, however, that not all was right with the state’s second largest public university, and Botman’s leadership has been called into question. Botman was the subject of a no confidence resolution this year by faculty, which received a majority support although not the full two-thirds vote needed for a formal censure — hardly a ringing endorsement.

And she was stopped by University of Maine Chancellor James Page from offering discretionary raises to a handful of administrators at a time when most departments were struggling with austerity budgets. Both events occurred as USM continued to suffer declining enrollment while college admissions boomed nationally.

Even if all the institution’s problems can’t be laid on Botman’s door, she has been the person in charge. Considering all of these factors, it makes sense that USM is due for a leadership change.

But what is surprising is the way this move has been sugar-coated by Botman and Page. Her resignation has been recast as a transfer to a position that did not before exist and which pays the same $203,000 a year that she makes now. The new position, assistant to the chancellor for developing international programs, has not been advertised or subject to a national job search.

Page can try to sell this as “a selfless act” on Botman’s part, but it looks like something else to those outside the system. It smacks of the kind of golden parachute that is all too common in the corporate world, but it is not what we should expect in the public sector.

Botman doesn’t get the blame for all that’s gone wrong at USM, but she and Page should acknowledge that a new direction is what’s needed and that involves replacing her with someone else.

A $203,000 annual salary is too much public money if it’s just to save face. UMaine should expand its international program and that would be a money maker for the system, but if the person in charge of that effort does not have the same responsibilities as a university president, she should not make the same salary.

Botman’s transfer may one day be seen as the right move for USM, but right now, it looks like a bureaucracy taking care of its own when others have to pay for bad decisions of the past.

This does not give us confidence that USM will finally be able to address its problems.