Published Date Written by David CarkhuffSelma Botman will step down as president of the University of Southern Maine and take on a new job to expand and develop the system's international education programs, University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page announced Thursday.
"President Botman proposed to me that new leadership might be the best direction to go in and, in a characteristically selfless move, she requested reassignment. I agree with her appraisal of the situation, appreciate her dedication to USM, and support her request," Page said in a press release.
Page said he asked longtime University of Maine at Farmington President Theo Kalikow to serve as USM's next president, and reported that she accepted the assignment.
These recommendations will be acted on by the UMS Board of Trustees when they hold their regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday, July 9 at the University of Maine System office in downtown Bangor.
Botman began her position of USM president on July 1, 2008, starting at an annual salary of $203,000. With Thursday's announcement, she is scheduled to move into the job of "special assistant to the chancellor for global education," where she said her annual salary will remain at $203,000.
In an interview Thursday, Page said the university system will not increase its cost with the new position.
"We've thought hard about that, we have organized things so these changes will result in no additional cost to the system, the taxpayer, etc.," Page said.
Botman said at a press conference Thursday that she did not help the chancellor find the money to pay for this position.
This spring, a "no confidence" vote by faculty expressing displeasure with Botman failed, falling short of the two-thirds majority required. On Thursday, officials would not identify that vote and the underlying dissatisfaction as a factor in the administrative changes.
"I think the University of Southern Maine has a set of challenges that are not unique to it," Page said.
A set of challenges ranging from difficult economics and demographics to the revolution of how education is being delivered over the web set the stage for new leadership, Page said.
"This is really an attempt of how do we move the entire institution forward on that broad front," he said.
Botman noted that university presidents typically have short tenures. Calling herself a "change agent," Botman said it was time for a "new start" for the university and in her personal life.
Asked if she was requested to step down, she said, "This was a decision that I made to work in a new capacity at the university system."
Botman said the "no confidence" vote did not spur her decision, but rather "a confluence of interests" arose.
"The end of the semester was the end of May, and so over the last few weeks, I've thought, 'What do I really want to do with the next chapter of my life?' and I decided that what I'd really like to do is globalize the university, bring the world to Maine," Botman said.
"Over the last four years, I have had the privilege of leading USM, and I'm so proud of the accomplishments we have made at this university. It's fiscally sound, it's student focused, it has deepened its ties to the community, and it is poised to take its next step," she said.
Botman's successor, Kalikow served as president of the University of Maine at Farmington from 1994 to 2012. With a tenure of 18 years, she was the longest-serving UMF president since the Farmington school became a four-year college in 1945, a UMS press release noted. Kalikow will begin her new presidency on Tuesday, July 10, the press release reported. Kalikow was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Heralding Kalikow as an excellent educational leader, Botman told the media Thursday that USM would continue to flourish under her guidance, but added, "Institutions are larger than individuals."
There was no public search to fill the president's job at USM, Botman said, but explained such a search is not required for positions lasting under two years.
"This is ultimately an interim position," Page agreed.
A public search would have held everything up for possibly a year or longer, he noted.
"The campus needs some time to organize itself around the new situation," Page said.
Botman's new job, which involves bringing international students to the university system as well as possibly arranging faculty exchanges with universities in foreign countries, is scheduled to start this summer, she said.
"I have made a commitment only to a year, I don't know what will happen after that," she said.