The University of Maine System chancellor and board of trustees have named Jacqueline Edmondson the 18th president of the University of Southern Maine.

Edmondson, an administrator in the Penn State University system, is scheduled to begin her new job on July 1. She will replace Glenn Cummings, who served as president for seven years and announced his resignation in October. Cummings was a popular president that many faculty members were disappointed to see step down.

Jacqueline Edmondson Photo courtesy of the University of Maine System

Edmondson signed a three-year contract and will be paid an annual salary of $290,000. Cummings had an annual salary of $280,205.

Since 2017, Edmondson has been the chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State Greater Allegheny, a campus near Pittsburgh. She has worked in higher education for almost 25 years and has a Ph.D. in education from Penn State.

Penn State Greater Allegheny enrolls about 600 students. According to the school’s website, 80 percent are commuters and 30 percent are adult learners. The University of Southern Maine also is largely a commuter school with students of varying ages and backgrounds.

“She understands the lives of non-traditional students,” said Lydia Savage, USM Associated Faculties of the University of Maine chapter president and chair of the Geography Department. Savage said she met with Edmondson twice during the presidential search process.


Savage, who has been at USM for close to three decades, said having classrooms with a mix of students that ranges from 18-year-olds just out of high school and living in dorms to people looking to change careers to students with children to those who work full-time jobs while going to school is one of the aspects that makes USM special. She said she’s pleased to have an incoming president who comes from a school with a similar student body makeup.

Almost 6,500 students attend USM and the school employs 1,100 faculty, staff and administrators on campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. USM is part of the University of Maine System, the state’s network of public universities.

Edmondson comes to the University of Southern Maine at a tumultuous time for the University of Maine System.

Last week, University of Maine Farmington students held a 24-hour sit-in, protesting the system’s decision to cut nine faculty positions in the social studies and humanities departments.

On Wednesday, University of Maine Augusta faculty passed a resolution of no-confidence in Chancellor Dannel Malloy in response to the system’s hiring of a president who had received a vote of no confidence from the faculty at his previous institution.

And on Friday, the University of Southern Maine faculty senate also passed a resolution of no confidence in Malloy. The senate cited a lack of faculty input in important decisions and the departure of three system presidents in the span of a year and criticized Malloy for his plan to centralize management of the UMaine System, voicing concern about decreased autonomy for individual schools.


Earlier this year, USM faculty raised concerns about the direction of the university and the school’s independence in light of unified accreditation – the joint accreditation of all seven of the systems – rather than each university being accredited individually. And some faculty criticized the search process for the new USM president, saying it lacked transparency.

Despite the tensions with the University of Maine System, Savage, the USM Faculty Union president, is confident that the search committee operated ethically and hired someone the members believe is a good candidate. She said she is excited to welcome Edmondson on board.

Edmondson was not available for an interview on Monday, but in a statement sent out by USM, she said she was eager to be joining the school.

“I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, students and communities where our campuses are located to build on USM’s strengths, confront challenges and realize new opportunities that will expand its impact and reach in the University of Maine System, the great state of Maine and beyond,” she said.

Several Penn State colleagues and faculty leaders said they were not available to be interviewed Monday, but Penn State colleagues spoke highly of Edmondson in a prepared news release.

“Jackie is a visionary and passionate leader who understands the complexities and demands of a multi-campus university, and the importance of building a strong sense of community belonging and pride among its members,” said Madlyn Hanes, senior vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor emerita.

“She is a tireless champion of faculty and staff development, and student success. Jackie’s ability to forge trusted relationships and partnerships with internal and external stakeholders will advance the rich history and strategic priorities of the University of Southern Maine.”

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