In 2014 and 2015, the University of Southern Maine went through one of the toughest periods in its 144-year history. Interim President David Flanagan was called upon to deal with a mess – a $16 million deficit, declining student enrollment, faculty and staff laid off to make up for declining revenue, and employee morale at an all-time low. Following an offer and acceptance, a newly hired USM president from New Jersey resigned before he even began. The university was not in a good place.

The second-choice candidate for president, Glenn Cummings, was offered the position, and a brilliant turnaround at USM began, ushering in a time of great momentum and energy.

Glenn Cummings Will Wohler

Glenn, a consummate educator at heart, began his career as a high school teacher in Gorham. He would later go on to earn a number of advanced degrees from Ivy League institutions, but his passion was always with the schools where first generation students could improve the trajectory of their lives. Many recognize Glenn Cummings’ name from his time as speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. At the time of his appointment, he was the interim president of UMaine Augusta.

In the early days of his tenure at USM and following a period of meetings with university faculty, staff, alumni, the Foundation Board, Board of Visitors, employers, community members and other stakeholders, President Glenn Cummings formulated a clear vision for USM.

In September 2015, he presented nine specific and measurable goals to help move the university forward. His vision was a university that serves as a central resource in advanced learning, research and connection to the business community that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as Maine’s economy and future growth.

I had the pleasure of collaborating with President Cummings during my years on the USM Alumni Association board, three as president, representing the more than 56,000 living alumni from USM and its predecessor colleges (University of Maine at Portland Gorham, Gorham State Teachers College, and Gorham Normal School, University of Maine Portland).

During Glenn’s tenure, he created an environment that inspired faculty and staff to grow student enrollment and retention as college enrollment has been dropping nationally, raised more than $9 million to endow the Promise Scholarship program, replenished the budget reserve to over $12 million, and launched the largest construction project in USM history, which will transform the student experience on the Portland campus.

Glenn is a truly inspirational and visionary leader who has assembled an outstanding team that has produced incredible results over the last eight years. He is an intelligent and compassionate man who has led the University of Southern Maine with great skill and success. He has put students at the very heart of his vision.

As a proud third-generation alumnus of USM who is also married to a proud alumna, I want to thank President Cummings for his significant contributions to USM and to the state of Maine.

— Special to the Press Herald

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