Leadership Bicentennial Blog: Dr. Glenn Cummings, President, University of Southern Maine

In celebration of Maine’s Bicentennial and 200 years of leadership that paved the way to make Maine “the way life should be,” members from MDF’s Leadership Maine Baskahegan Class interviewed leaders from around the state.  With diverse backgrounds, industries and geographies, they each share deep interest and commitment to the state of Maine and its people.  This is the story of Dr. Glenn Cummings, President, University of Southern Maine , and his leadership journey. Glenn was interviewed by Kristen Vaillancourt.

How he got here from there.

Dr. Glenn Cummings began his academic career in Gorham, ME as a high school history teacher and department head. He served as a faculty member at the Southern Maine Community College and was a long-serving member of the USM faculty, most recently as an assistant professor of Educational Leadership, teaching in the masters and doctoral degree programs. Prior to becoming President of USM, Dr. Cummings served President Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Education, President and Executive Director of Good Will-Hinckley organization, and as Interim President of the University of Maine at Augusta. Dr. Cummings is a former Speaker of the House in the Maine House of Representatives, Majority Leader, and Chairman of the state’s Joint Committee of Education and Cultural Affairs.

His advice for young leaders in Maine and outlook for the future.

A great leader is someone who is positive, inspiring, believes in a vision, can tell the story of the organization, is authentic, can see the vision and paint a picture of where you want to go.

Maine needs to look around the next corner and find opportunities.  You need to have a group of leaders who can see the vision.  We need to work together to mobilize the work and get it done.  It is exciting to think about where Maine will be in the next 25-50 years.  We have the opportunity to lead the nation in areas like clean water, open land, technology and sustainability.  But, in order to get there, we have to have the right leaders in the right place.

His inspiration from the past.

There are so many leaders who have inspired me, but the one that stands out to me is George Mitchell.  George was able to overcome personal obstacles to mediate complex situations.  He learned how to be respectful of different opinions and bring people together.  He was a leader who had a vision and was able to tell his own narrative.

Glenn’s advice is to “Think Big!  Get good people around you.  Create a pathway to move forward towards the vision.  Don’t be afraid of the small size of Maine – we’ve had some great leaders lead the way!”