End of an Era: MCCS President John Fitzsimmons Bows to LePage Pressure, Resigns Post
One of the more surprising moments from Governor Paul LePage’s initial rollout of the FY 2016/17 biennial budget were off-the-cuff remarks he made and repeated his intentions to call for the resignation of Maine Community College System President Dr. John Fitzsimmons (9:00 mark):
“I am going to ask for the president of the community college system to resign and I don’t know of any other better way to say that he’s been in a bunker and I haven’t been able to find him. End of story there.”
Fitzsimmons issued a statement days later:
“Gov. LePage has made known his desire for a change in leadership at the Maine community colleges,” said Fitzsimmons in a written statement Tuesday afternoon. “He has also called for flat funding of the [Maine Community College System] budget, while increasing the University of Maine System and Maine Maritime Academy. … Because I report to the [Maine Community College System] board of trustees, I have approached the board leadership to discuss the governor’s concerns, actions and the implications they hold for the system.”
Despite having the full confidence of board members, Fitzsimmons decided to spare the colleges the governor’s wrath and later announced that he would indeed resign. One of his last acts as head of the MCCS was to meet before the Appropriations and Education Committees in Augusta.
Upon hear of the resignation, LePage issued the following statement:
“For more than two decades, President Fitzsimmons has presided over the Community College System and during that tenure he has accomplished great things. For this, I am appreciative and wish him the best in future endeavors.”
“Today, creativity, innovation and competitiveness must propel an antiquated system into a new era. Our students deserve an education that provides them the tools to be successful. It is our job to ensure the educational opportunities are accessible and affordable and lead our youth on a path toward success.”
Derek Langhauser, who has been MCCS’s general counsel for 20 years, has been named as interim president until a successor for Fitzsimmons is decided.