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University of Southern Maine president leaves post

PORTLAND (WGME) -- For the second time in two years, the University of Southern Maine is losing its president amid controversy and cuts. Theo Kalikow will soon be an acting UMaine System Vice Chancellor, overseeing a new community engagement initiative to show people the benefits of students learning in the real world.

"So this wasn't about you being fed up with the job at all?", we asked Kalikow. She replied "Hey, I was going to stay until next June. That was what the deal was. But this opportunity happened. And I said to myself, why not?" Kalikow told me her leaving has nothing to do with the unpopular cuts she made due to declining enrollment.

This past year, USM cut $7-million dollars out of the budget, cut a few less popular academic programs, and made cuts at the top as well. Kalikow says "We pretty much restructured the administration of the institution.  It's a lot leaner than it was. There's still a lot of cutting to go. But we've done a really credible, good job."

Meaghan LaSala doesn't think so. Her uncle is head of the USM Faculty Senate and she is an organizer with Students for #USMFuture. She believes these cuts will hurt USM in the long run. LaSala says "We need someone who is going to bring everyone to the table in order to make decisions that are good for the health of USM."

But Theo Kalikow says she thinks USM is on the right path now. Incoming Student Body President Kyle Frazier agrees. He says "President Kalikow came in with a tough job before her. I think that she did the best that she could.  And I'm not saying she didn't do good work. She did great work. And I think something good will come from this."

Kalikow's resignation takes effect in ten days. No word yet on an Interim President. The search for a permanent USM President will start this fall. Two years ago, Theo Kalikow replaced Dr. Selma Botman as USM President, who stepped down. Theo Kalikow was also the long time president of the University of Maine at Farmington.