Incoming University of Southern Maine president Jacqueline Edmondson, center back, speaks Tuesday morning with a group of occupational therapy students at the Lewiston-Auburn campus. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Just one day after being named the 18th president of the University of Southern Maine, Jacqueline Edmondson visited the Lewiston-Auburn campus Tuesday morning to introduce herself and share brief remarks about her vision for the university’s smallest campus.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come to the University of Southern Maine as president is because I wanted to work with this particular college,” she told roughly 100 students, staff, faculty and associated community members. “This, I think, is the place that has so much potential.”

Edmondson shared that she will aim to create partnerships that connect the university to the Lewiston-Auburn community and the broader USM system.

“We will build on the strengths of the University of Southern Maine and the strengths of the programs, such as the occupational therapy program that’s located here, and we will lead in these areas where we have strengths.” she said.

She also affirmed her commitment to the vision outlined in a 2021 needs assessment conducted by Rebecca Conrad, a consultant and chair of the USM board of visitors.

Conrad’s study found that there is “great opportunity” in Lewiston-Auburn to expand enrollment and better serve the community, she said in an interview Tuesday.


“(The goal is) really to to align the economic and workforce needs of the region (and) in the state with the assets we have.” Conrad said.

The Lewiston-Auburn campus will need to rebuild its infrastructure for recruiting, retaining and graduating students while also considering whether to add new programs to support community needs, she added.

USM no longer tracks enrollment by location; instead it tracks by program. The last time the campus’ enrollment was counted specific to its location, USM LAC had more than 400 full- and part-time students, according to Jeanne Paquette, USM’s vice president for Corporate & Workforce Engagement and the Lewiston-Auburn Campus Administrator.

In an interview following the meet and greet event, Edmondson shared she was especially drawn to USM for the potential she sees to “work with creative, thoughtful people to innovate in higher education.”

Incoming University of Southern Maine president Jacqueline Edmondson, center, speaks Tuesday morning with a group of occupational therapy students at the Lewiston-Auburn campus. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Edmondson said she is currently developing an agenda for her first 100 days as president using input from different people within USM.

As for Lewiston, she anticipates working to build deeper connections with adult and workforce education programs in the area with the aim of “(bringing) the public in to have an education that will help to advance the quality of their lives and the quality of their careers.”


Edmondson was an administrator and professor of education at Penn State University’s main campus for 17 years, where she worked across 20 campuses. As the head of USM, she’ll manage three campuses in Gorham, Portland and Lewiston.

“I’m used to the complexity and size of working across locations,” she said.

She plans to spend a great deal of time meeting with people and building relationships within the university system to “keep the momentum going around the wonderful projects and programs that are here.”

Edmondson is currently the chancellor and chief academic officer for Penn State’s Greater Allegheny campus. She has nearly 25 years of experience working in higher education and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Penn State.

She is scheduled to step into her new role at USM on July 1.

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