At a time of significant turmoil for the University of Maine system, UM Farmington will be in good hands with Dr. Joseph McDonnell serving as interim president.

This assessment is informed from two relevant perspectives, one based on direct experience as a doctoral student of McDonnell, the other from my previous career as a tenured faculty of Philosophy and Women’s Studies.

As an instructor, McDonnell’s commitment to his student’s intellectual development and the imperative role the liberal arts serve in this endeavor are paramount. His servitude to genuine dialogue, sincere collaboration, and honest communication are a testament to his leadership style that I believe UM Farmington students and faculty alike will welcome.

As a former faculty with personal experience of presidential transitions (five presidents in six years), I can attest to the existential anxiety and uncertainty that comes with having a new leader at the helm of an institution one has invested their professional life in. You are asked to have trust and confidence in a person whom you had no role in selecting, nor opportunity to properly vet.

Given the stakes, a request for having “faith” in a new leader can seem an unrealistic, and even insulting, request. And yet, it is moments like these when faith serves as an act of intellectual courage for the welfare of the greater good. In McDonnell, I believe UM Farmington’s faith will be rewarded in a conscientious, innovative and community-building partner.

Mella McCormick, Portland

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