AUBURN — Every year for nearly two decades, Roger Philippon has looked forward to spring. 

It was the time of year he said goodbye to all his students, but he did it knowing that they were off to begin bright new chapters in their lives. 

Roger G. Philippon DENNIS GRIGGS

As it happens, Philippon is starting off on a fresh new chapter, as well. On Friday, he will retire as dean of planning and public affairs at Central Maine Community College, a job he’s held for 14 years. 

Ask Philippon what the high point was in all those years and he’ll tell you it was all those springs.

“Every spring, just seeing so many students graduate and move on to successes,” he said. “And seeing the campus participating in campus growth — growth in programs and facilities and services. It’s just been one hell of a ride.” 

The low point? Philippon is quick to answer that one, as well. 

“COVID,” he said. “That’s for sure. The campus is just so quiet. It’s usually so full of life, with so many students and coming in and out. And we built this fantastic athletic complex last year and shortly after it was completed, we used it for a couple months, but now we’re not able to have any athletics because of this whole mess. So that’s the biggest bummer.” 

By the time Philippon went to work at CMCC, he was already a widely respected figure in education circles. 

In 1995, he became a part of the University of Southern Maine Community when he went to work for Lewiston-Auburn College as an enrollment services adviser. He learned the ropes of the department and soon moved to coordinating the enrollment services activities. 

He took the initiative in improving the financial aid advising services, coordinating with the Portland and Gorham campuses, and outreach into the Lewiston-Auburn area. 

Under Philippon’s leadership, the college developed a marketing and recruitment plan, improved on-site registrar services, initiated regular career services workshops and on-site personal and career counseling services for students. 

In 2006, he began work for CMCC and his reputation came with him.

“Roger and I started working at CMCC the same day — December 4th, 14 years ago,” says Betsy Libby, interim president of the school. “My first meeting that Monday morning was a campus tour with the president who was bringing Roger and I around to introduce us to our new colleagues. I was landing in Auburn fresh from upstate New York and appreciated the introductions, but I quickly learned Roger needed no introduction as we went from office to office. Faculty and staff knew who he was from his long-standing community involvement and from when he assisted them at USM-LA when they were students there.”

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work side by side with Roger for the past 14 years as the College has transformed into what it is today,” Libby says. “Roger has held a pivotal role in the College’s enrollment growth, new buildings and other facilities, fundraising for student scholarships, and community engagement.”

Heather D.B. Seymour, who has been working with Philippon for nearly a decade, will replace him at CMMC.

“We have been very lucky to have him,” Seymour said. “Working with Roger as truly been an honor for me. He has been an incredible support and resource, personally and professionally, for the eight years we have worked together.”

And “active” is the word, all right — Philippon, 65, a former Lewiston city councilor and Planning Board member, said he has no plans to become sedentary or to fade into obscurity as he leaves CMCC. 

“It has been a great run and a fantastic place to work,” he said. “It’s just a great school and I had wonderful colleagues. But I wanted to kind of step back from full-time employment and just kind of enter a different chapter here. I don’t want to completely retire. I do want to maybe do something on a part-time basis. But this just felt like the right time.” 

So, what’s next? 

Well, there’s Philippon’s great love, for starters; that love being the stage at Community Little Theater in Auburn where he — and sometimes his wife, Celeste, as well — has been acting for decades. 

“My day job,” Philippon said, “Is just because I need to eat.” 

At the theatre, Philippon has played a little bit of everything, from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Ebenezer Scrooge’s favorite whipping boy, Bob Cratchit. 

But like so many things, theater has been hobbled by COVID, as well, and Philippon doesn’t expect shows to resume until next year at the earliest. So, until he has the opportunity to tread the boards again, Philippon said he will occupy himself with chorin’. 

“Oh, I’ve got a lot to do here at home,” he said. “I have this room that is like my office and its also my grandson’s room when he stays with us. It’s just such a mess, with all kinds of photographs, archives and all kinds of material. I’ve got to sort through all that and get it organized. It will probably take me 10 years.”

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