When James H. Page takes over as chancellor of the University of Maine system on March 20, he'll bring an unusual perspective to the job: not only as a corporate chief executive but also as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the system's flagship campus, in Orono.
Mr. Page, 59, is the first person born and raised in Maine and the first alumnus of the University of Maine to lead the system's seven universities. He said his dual roles leading the James W. Sewall Company, an international consulting team, and serving as a part-time faculty member will help him appreciate the delicate balance between bottom-line financial and educational issues facing the system.
"At the end of the day, a university is first and foremost an educational enterprise," he said. "But the private sector is pretty good at putting together solid plans and high-performance teams that can implement those plans at a reasonably fast pace."
Mr. Page, who was an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Kansas from 1992 to 1997, says his academic training should come in handy as the Maine system takes on a variety of challenges, including a decline in state support, a shrinking college-age cohort, and a months-long battle with the faculty union, which has been working without a contract since June.
Faculty union leaders say they are optimistic that Mr. Page's experience will make him sympathetic to faculty concerns.
The new chancellor, in his letter to the search committee, said the system needed a leader who communicated openly and was an expert negotiator. "My philosophical training is in analytic philosophy," he told The Chronicle. "In many respects, it's not a set of beliefs but a set of processes for very complex problem solving."
Mr. Page, who has served on the Board of Visitors for the Orono campus since 2008, will replace Richard L. Pattenaude and earn an annual salary of $277,500.