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President’s Biography

President Ferguson

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

Paul W. Ferguson became the 19th President of the University of Maine on July 1, 2011. A Southern California native, President Ferguson is a Whittier College graduate who earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of California, Davis in 1981. Between college and graduate school he gained work experience as a research specialist at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center and as a research biologist for Pennwalt Corporation.

An accomplished scholar with a 30-year record of achievement, President Ferguson began his academic career as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Louisiana, Monroe.   At that institution, he worked to establish the first undergraduate toxicology program in the South while leading research and outreach efforts aimed at assessing the potential risks from chemical exposures throughout Louisiana. After five years working as Senior Toxicologist for Unocal Corporation in Los Angeles, President Ferguson returned to ULM, serving as an award winning Professor and Head of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology. In 1993, he was appointed Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. He also served as Vice Provost from 1995–99 prior to assuming a new position at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

At UNLV, President Ferguson served in a variety of leadership roles, helping that institution realize its vision of becoming a premier metropolitan research university. He joined UNLV as Professor and Dean of the Graduate College, before being appointed Senior Vice Provost in 2001. He served as Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies from 2003–06, leading the continued development of the UNLV research and graduate education enterprise. During his time at UNLV, annual extramural funding increased from $59 million to $95 million, while the number of graduate programs rose from 74 to 108.

In 2006, President Ferguson was appointed Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University, and Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology. He worked to implement major initiatives defined by five academic affairs imperatives: academic quality and assessment, student success, faculty development, educational outreach and enrollment management. During his time there, the university received national recognition for its academic innovation, culture of assessment and commitment to continuous quality improvement.

As a campus leader highly regarded for his commitment to engagement, inclusivity and quality, President Ferguson has a demonstrated record of university transformations in the areas of increased research and economic development, university-community partnerships, student success, faculty development and academic quality. Currently, President Ferguson is leading an inclusive, campus-wide planning and implementation process, the Blue Sky Project, to elevate the University of Maine to new levels of excellence as the most distinctively student-centered and community-engaged of the American research universities.

President Ferguson and his wife, Grace, have been married for 39 years and have three children: David lives in Houston, Texas, where he is a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at the Baylor College of Medicine; Kathryn and her husband, Bobby Bowman, live in New York City, where she is a fourth year medical student at NYU School of Medicine; and Jenny, is a UMaine senior majoring in political science with a minor in French.


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