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James Page to serve as UMaine System chancellor

By David Sharp
Associated Press / February 16, 2012
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PORTLAND, Maine—Relishing a challenge, the new chancellor of the University of Maine System said Thursday that it'll be a privilege to lead through difficult times of dwindling resources and declining numbers of high school students.

James Page, CEO of James W. Sewall Co. in Old Town, will get to work next month after his selection was announced to the media following a meeting of the Board of Trustees' executive committee at the University of Southern Maine.

Changes will be needed to ensure the university system is meeting its obligations of providing an affordable education, serving as an economic engine and providing public outreach, even as it faces fiscal and demographic challenges, Page said.

"To direct the system at a time of great challenges is an honor," Page told The Associated Press.

All of that comes against a backdrop of tight budgets and competition for a declining numbers of prospective students.

"I don't know anybody who I've talked to who feels that the status quo is satisfactory to meet the challenges," he said.

He'll replace Chancellor Richard Pattenaude, who is retiring.

The other finalists were Meredith Hay, a special adviser to the chair of the Arizona Board of Regents for Strategic Initiatives; and Rebecca Wyke, vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of Maine System.

Page, Hay and Wyke recently toured several campuses and met with students, employees, and administrators.

Page, who serves as an adjunct professor in the University of Maine philosophy department, is the only of the three who was born in Maine and holds a degree from the one of the UMaine system campuses.

The Caribou native attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent and Harvard University before earning a master's degree in philosophy from St. Andrews University in Scotland and a doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He was a philosophy professor in at the University of Kansas before joining James W. Sewall Company, a 132-year-old Maine company that provides forestry management consulting, and surveying and engineering services. He served in a variety of administration positions before becoming CEO.

Page, 59, of Old Town, takes over his post on March 20. Before embarking on any major initiatives, he said he intends to visit each of the campuses as well as Augusta to meet with state leaders.

The University of Maine System, which has an annual enrollment of nearly 41,000 students, has seven campuses, nine University College outreach centers, a law school and 75 distance learning sites.

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