What a sad, sad day in Maine’s history, when a man with such a remarkable legacy and of widespread regard as John Fitzsimmons is driven out by a governor issuing threats of retaliation. Dr. Fitzsimmons’ departure is an enormous loss for the community colleges and for Maine, and the manner in which it occurred is shameful.

Maine owes Dr. Fitzsimmons a huge debt of gratitude for his leadership and service, and for his tireless work opening paths of opportunity for Maine’s college students and working people.

From his days as executive director of the Training Resource Center, to labor commissioner, to president of the community college system, Dr. Fitzsimmons brought to each a deep and abiding belief in the innate talents every person has to offer, whatever their walk of life. His remarkable skills, innovative thinking and extraordinary leadership have brought immeasurable benefits to Maine people and businesses, and to the state as a whole.

Behind a long list of accomplishments are traits this governor has no understanding of. Dr. Fitzsimmons is a man of honor, of humility, of grace; a man who always treats others with respect and dignity. I worked at his side for nearly 20 years – 16 at the Maine Community College System – and bore witness to these traits every day.

He always encouraged his staff and college presidents to give their honest opinions, even if (and particularly if) different from his own, as he knew it would inform better policy decisions and a healthier, more effective organization. These are the traits of a great leader.

The loss of his leadership, and in such a manner, is a disgrace to the Governor’s Office, and Maine’s shame to bear as well.

Alice Kirkpatrick