A week after the president of the Maine Community College System resigned under pressure from Gov. Paul LePage, the system’s trustees named Derek Langhauser the interim president.

Langhauser, who has been the system’s general counsel for 20 years, will succeed John Fitzsimmons, who was president for 24 years, on Feb. 16.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Derek’s knowledge, talent and expertise guiding the system during this transition,” board Chairman Robert Clark said in a statement Friday. “Derek is widely regarded for his experience, judgment, insight and dedication to our colleges and the students we serve.”

A national search for a new system president will be launched in March, officials said.

“I look forward to working with my talented colleagues at both the system and college level to continue to ensure that high-quality, affordable education is available to the thousands of hard-working Maine students, families and businesses we serve,” Langhauser said in a statement.

Langhauser is a past president of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and is consulting counsel to former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe. In 2013, Langhauser served as acting director of human resources for the system, and has taught for more than a decade for the Williams College Maritime Studies program.

When LePage unveiled his budget this month, he called for Fitzsimmons to resign, citing as reasons the system’s withdrawal from a favorite LePage project, the Bridge Year Program, after only a year, and that it wasn’t moving fast enough to set up a way to transfer credits between community colleges and other schools, such as the University of Maine.

The trustees and Fitzsimmons say the system already has been working on the two issues that LePage had raised. System officials decided several weeks ago to resume participating in the Bridge Year Program, which allows a high school student to earn college credits before graduation, and they expect to have a comprehensive credit transfer agreement by May. Fitzsimmons said they had concerns about the Bridge Year Program, which would cost about $800,000 a year, with the state covering only half the cost.

After LePage’s comments, current and former trustees defended Fitzsimmons and expressed shock at the situation.

The governor flat-funded the community colleges in his proposed budget and Fitzsimmons said he resigned because LePage “threatened further harm” to the system if he remained as president.

Fitzsimmons, 65, had previously served as commissioner of labor under Gov. John McKernan.

Fitzsimmons will continue to work at the system in a fundraising capacity through the summer to complete multimillion-dollar donor requests he initiated through The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges.

The next meeting of the system’s board of trustees will be Feb. 25.

A system spokeswoman said LePage and system trustees have agreed to meet in March, but a date has not been set.