MACHIAS (AP) – A memorial service will be held Friday for the president of the University of Maine at Machias, who died of a heart attack Saturday in the midst of the school’s commencement activities.

The service for John H. Joseph will be held at 1 p.m. in the university’s Frederic A. Reynolds Center athletic facility, said John Diamond, spokesman for the University of Maine System in Bangor.

Joseph, 60, had been scheduled to preside over Saturday’s graduation of 135 students when he collapsed as he chatted with students clad in cap and gown prior to the 2 p.m. ceremony. Students trained as emergency medical technicians performed CPR on Joseph but he did not respond.

Joseph was taken by ambulance to Downeast Community Hospital, where he died, according to a nursing supervisor.

Diamond said officials will determine shortly who will serve as interim successor, and how the univeristy system will proceed in finding a new president.

Typically, a university’s vice president of academic affairs is considered the No. 2 person on campus and would serve as interim president until a new one is appointed, Diamond said. But in this case, he said the vice president of academic affairs, David Rosen, has taken a new position with an out-of-state school and is in the process of leaving the school.

After Joseph was taken to the hospital, school officials decided to go ahead with the ceremony, and students and faculty marched into the Reynolds Center.

When the ceremony began, officials did not know that Joseph had died, and Wickham Skinner, a University of Maine System trustee, took his place.

Skinner told an estimated crowd of 1,500 that Joseph had collapsed and been taken to the hospital, Diamond said.

Following the ceremony, faculty and staff gathered in the campus bookstore, where they were told that Joseph had died.

Joseph, whose 27-year career in higher education included stints at Roosevelt University in Illinois and Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, had been president on the Machias campus since July 2000.

He is survived by his wife Marlene; his daughter Ashley McGettigan; and two grandchildren.

AP-ES-05-11-03 1529EDT

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