While the University of Maine System’s chief executive faces questions about his future and calls for his resignation, the board he reports to took steps a year ago to start extending his contract.
University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy’s three-year contract is coming up for renewal on June 30 after faculty at three university campuses cast no-confidence votes in the former Connecticut governor’s leadership.
Those votes followed a bungled search for the University of Maine at Augusta’s next president, which resulted in the chosen candidate backing out before starting the job. But they have also addressed recent cuts at the University of Maine at Farmington and professors’ objections to increasingly centralized management of the state’s universities that has removed some of their autonomy.
In addition to the three votes of no confidence, professors at the system’s four other universities have issued letters of support for the no-confidence votes in recent days.
At the University of Maine System trustees meeting Monday, Malloy was asked during a public comment session to resign and faced criticism from professors across the statewide system.
But trustees at that meeting also heard in a private session a multi-year review of Malloy’s leadership from an outside consultant as part of their process to negotiate an extension of the chancellor’s contract. The review happened under a Board of Trustees policy that requires a review before reappointment, according to a university system spokesperson.
The Bangor Daily News requested the review, but the university system did not provide it Tuesday, saying it was not a public document because it is a personnel record.
Negotiations to extend Malloy’s contract have been in the works since May 24, 2021, when the Board of Trustees passed a motion to allow the “Chancellor Review Team” to negotiate the extension. Malloy makes $350,000 a year under his current contract.
Trustee Jim Erwin, then the board’s chair, said it was standard practice to address the status of the chancellor’s contract a year before its expiration. He asked for the board’s authorization so the review team could negotiate a contract extension, according to minutes from that meeting.
Trustees on Monday took no action on Malloy’s contract. Instead, the board will schedule a future date to take action on the contract before its expiration, system spokesperson Margaret Nagle said.
“When you have challenges like our COVID experience or economic challenges that we just spent some time talking about, passions rise,” Malloy said when asked about the calls for his resignation. “I can only get up everyday and hope that I can do the best job I can. I am very committed to the mission of the university system and the work that I am permitted to do.”
The no-confidence votes from faculty aren’t explicit calls for Malloy’s resignation, but they show that professors at the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine at Farmington are using the primary means available to them to broadcast their disapproval.
The votes followed a search for UMA’s new president during which Malloy and a system trustee never disclosed to the full search committee that the man ultimately hired for the job had himself faced a faculty vote of no confidence at his current institution in New York.
On Sunday, the university system announced that the man chosen for the job, Michael Laliberte, voluntarily withdrew before he even started the job. Under an agreement reached with Laliberte, the university system could be on the hook for paying him the salary he was to make as UMA’s president for nearly three years — up to nearly $600,000.