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Josianne to retire at end of June, entering politics

page5c025PHILIPSBURG--After serving University of St. Martin (USM) for eleven years, President Josianne Fleming-Artsen is scheduled to go on retirement at the end of this month.

She wants to continue contributing to USM in some way and is currently in discussion with the board on how the relationship will continue.

She also has her eyes set on the political arena and said she will join an existing political party. In an interview with The Daily Herald on Monday, Fleming-Artsen declined to name the party. It is, however, widely speculated that she will be joining Theo Heyliger's United Peoples (UP) party. "I think I should be given an opportunity to make that announcement [of which political party I will be joining] when I am ready," Fleming-Artsen said, adding that being an educator this is an area she will champion along with culture and youth.

Asked what her major strides at USM were, she responded: "I would have liked to accomplish incorporating USM in the laws of the Netherlands Antilles and I fought very hard for this. It was not accomplished due to political reasons in the Netherlands Antilles, but we have written the laws so I think that Country St. Maarten can make a few adaptations and use the law that was created for higher education. There will be some adaptations, but having this law in place as soon as possible will be a great accomplishment for USM. I did all the leg work and discussion for it and now it's a matter of St. Maarten adapting it a bit to suit our situation and implement it.

"I am still discussing plans as it relates to USM. It is not my intention to just walk away and leave USM. I am still in discussion to see what my future role would be," she told this newspaper.

The board commended Fleming-Artsen for her dedication to the institution during its sixteenth commencement ceremony at the Westin, St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday evening. Fleming-Artsen became emotional during her presentation and at one point had to cut short her presentation as she was beginning to well up.

Later in the evening she said that retiring was a difficult decision. She told the audience that her life at USM had been "action-oriented" and there was never a dull moment. "I am only moving my physical self from USM," she said. "But I will continue to work in the best interest of the university."

News of Fleming-Artsen's retirement has prompted the Windward Islands Federation of Labour (WIFOL) to call for an urgent meeting with the USM board to discuss, among other issues, her pending retirement, a "good transition" plan; the status of the Dean of Academic Affairs whom it said remains unqualified and the situation with the institution's management team. The union said it only learnt of her retirement from media reports.

Fleming-Artsen has served the education sector for some 40 years. She started her career as an educator at the Oranje School and later moved to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School then to Milton Peters College and the Methodist Agogic Center (MAC) where she served as Executive Director. She then moved to USM, where she has remained up until now.