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Maine Community College System Appoints New President

Courtesy: Maine Community College System
The Maine Community College System's new president, Derek Langhauser.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Community College System’s board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Derek Langhauser as president. Langhauser has served as interim president for the past year, and has served as general counsel for more than 20 years.

When former Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons stepped down from his job last February, Derek Langhauser stepped up. Since then, system Board Chair Robert Clark says Langhauser has demonstrated the kind of leadership qualities that earned him the promotion.

At a reception following the board’s vote, Clark praised Langhouser’s success in securing philanthropic support for the system during his 13 months as interim president, and in keeping the system’s lines of communication open to key policy makers.

“He has great relationships with everyone in state government and across the state of Maine, and a very highly-respected individual," Clark said. "And everyone that I’ve talked to, they all support Derek and that he’s done a great job and that he’s really got a great vision for the future of the college."

Communication was in short supply a little more than a year ago, when a very public rift between Fitzsimmons and Gov. Paul LePage led to Fitzsimmon’s departure after nearly 25 years at the helm. The governor had wanted Fitzsimmons to allow students to transfer earned credits among the community colleges and the universities.

When Fitzsimmons pulled the plug on that program, the governor flat-funded the community college system budget and told its board that they would all “feel his wrath” if they did not seek the president’s resignation.

The credit transfer system is back in place, the colleges have received additional funding and Langhauser says he is well aware of the political dynamics that influence the delivery of post-secondary education programs in Maine.

“One doesn’t occupy the position of president and not expect to work with governmental leaders, both on the second and the third floor with both houses and with both parties, and my responsibility is to advocate competently and effectively - and, hopefully, persuasively - with political leaders of all stripes,” Langhauser said. “I met with the governor last week. I do so every several months to update him on what we’re working on and to give him an opportunity to share with me thoughts or concerns that he has about where we’re going with the system.”

Langhauser says job one as president will be to increase the success rate of students throughout the system and to expand the number of students involved in job training programs with Maine employers.

That was good news for Nicole Boucher, the board’s student trustee from York County Community College, who says Langhauser knows what’s important to students throughout the system. And she says that was instrumental in her decision to support his bid for the presidency.

“He’s working to better the system. I’m constantly seeing him down in Wells and helping us get our building, which was a huge problem.  So for me it was really hard to look at these other candidates that I know are some of the best in the country,” Boucher said. “When we ended with Derek at the top of the list, it thrilled me to know that my gut feeling wasn’t just me picking the person that I knew.”

Langhauser says that, while the system’s financial profile is very stable, the board will be looking at tuition rates in the spring to determine whether any changes need to be made. As president of the Maine Community College System, Langhauser will earn $175,000 a year.