A former governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, will replace James Page as chancellor of the University of Maine System.
Members of the board of trustees introduced Malloy on Thursday at the University of Maine after unanimously electing him as head of the seven-campus university system.
The hiring of a high-profile politician marks a departure for the position. Past chancellors have typically been private-sector leaders or educators, like James Page, who was the CEO of James W. Sewall Co. in Old Town and an adjunct associate professor of philosophy at the University of Maine.
Malloy will assume his new role on July 1, the day after Page retires. His salary will be $350,000. Page, who was hired in 2012, made $277,500 a year.
The committee was looking for a candidate with a track record in education reform, who would continue working toward initiatives that the board as identified as priorities, like the One University initiative that Page launched in January 2015 to cut administrative costs and assign unique missions to each campus, said Sam Collins, a trustee and chair of the search committee.
“The strategic priorities that the board adopted in December and the selection of Dan Malloy as our next chancellor are clear indication of the board’s resolve to expedite our transition to One University and all the potential that it brings,” said Board of Trustees Chairman James Erwin.
Malloy will take over during a time of relative stability. When Page assumed leadership of the university system in March 2012, enrollment was declining and campuses faced long-term deficits. Enrollment is now steady, or even increasing on some of the seven campuses, and the system’s long-term deficits have been resolved.
Collins cited some of Malloy’s education reform work in Connecticut as the basis for his selection. Malloy merged that state’s community college system and the state’s public universities and formed one governing body called the Board of Regents to oversee the merged educational institutions.
The consolidation was aimed at saving money and encouraging collaboration, but is thought by many to be a controversial choice.
“Dan Malloy has led complex public sector initiatives as mayor to the Stamford, Connecticut and two-time governor of Connecticut,” Collins said. “His time in public service has included a focus on education leadership, improvement, investment and reform.”
He has been in public service and leadership roles for 22 years, including his two terms as governor of Connecticut from 2010 to 2018. He chose not to seek re-election in 2018.
Malloy had a 21 percent approval rating in a July 2018 Morning Consult poll, which was the second-lowest in the country.
“It was not easy, it was not always popular but it was a job to be gotten done,” he said of his time as governor.
Malloy said he plans to continue Page’s work and lead the university system to help close the workforce gap in Maine.
“In the coming years we need another 158,000 credentialed future employees,” he said. “We need to produce these employees for the state.”
He will spend the next month getting to know the campuses. Following his introduction, he will travel to Augusta with Page to meet with leaders from the Maine Community College System and the State House.
Malloy highlighted the importance of working collaboratively, both within the system and with other educational institutions, like the Maine Community College system.
“I need to have a close working relationship with the head of [the community college] system because we can do a lot for each other,” he said.
On Friday, he plans to meet students and staff at the Augusta and Portland campuses.