The University of Maine at Fort Kent campus community was saddened this week to hear of the passing of Dr. Charles Lyons, UMFK's eight president. Dr. Lyons led the University from 1996 to 2001.
Following his tenure at UMFK, Lyons guided the University of Maine at Augusta through the transition from a 2-year to a 4-year institution, then led York Community College to maturity. Lyons served as a Maine university and community college president for 17 years.
“Charlie was a dynamic leader at UMFK and a respected member of Maine's higher education community for many years. He will be sorely missed,” said Maine State Representative John L. Martin, a member of the UMFK faculty and special advisor to the University president.
A Century and a Quarter of Progress, A Look at the First 125 Years of the St. John Valley's Institution of Higher Learning stated of Dr. Lyons: “UMFK's eighth president brought with him a deep understanding of the University of Maine System. He used that knowledge to influence the legislature, grow enrollment by 44 percent and transform the University into a ‘leaner and stronger' institution academically. As enrollment grew under Dr. Lyons so did diversity on campus. Near the end of 2001, UMFK was ranked seventh in the nation for foreign student enrollment by the Chronicle of Higher Education.”
UMFK President, Wilson G. Hess said of Lyons, “Maine has lost one of its most versatile and energetic higher education leaders. Charlie's unflagging enthusiasm and tireless dedication transformed UMFK into the institution we know today.”
During his tenure at UMFK, Dr. Lyons drew on his experience and fostered support for the University in Augusta, especially with the Maine Legislature and then Governor Angus King. He was instrumental in establishing the Elmer Violette Wilderness Camp, which was built in the late 1990s, and is credited with fighting for the funding of a new classroom building, which resulted in the construction of Nadeau Hall in 2002.