BANGOR — The Maine Community College System Board of Trustees on Friday announced the appointment of the system’s lawyer as its interim president.

Derek Langhauser, general counsel for the system, replaces John Fitzsimmons, who resigned earlier this month under pressure from Gov. Paul LePage.

Langhauser’s appointment takes effect on Feb. 16. He also serves as a senior member of the system’s leadership team and served in 2013 as the system’s acting director of human resources.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Derek’s knowledge, talent and expertise guiding the system during this transition,” said Robert Clark, chairman of the system board in a Friday news release. “Derek is widely regarded for his experience, judgment, insight and dedication to our colleges and the students we serve.”

Fitzsimmons’ resignation came after several days of pressure from Gov. Paul LePage, who criticized the community colleges’ president for being unavailable and too slow to enact the governor’s agenda on higher education.

LePage repeatedly criticized the failure of the community college system to establish complete credit transferability between the community colleges and the University of Maine System, or to adopt the Bridge Year program, which allows students to earn college credit before graduating high school.

On Jan. 12, LePage said community college trustees would “feel the wrath” if they didn’t seek to end Fitzsimmons’ 25-year tenure.

The board expects to launch a national search for the next president in March. Its next meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Southern Maine Community College.

BDN reporter Mario Moretto contributed to this story.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.