University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy listens to presentations during the board meeting May 22, 2022, at the Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The outside firm at the center of the bungled search for a new president of the University of Maine at Augusta will fill at least two more positions in the University of Maine System in the coming months.

Storbeck Search is coordinating searches for a new dean of a system-wide engineering and computer science college, and a vice president for finance and administration and chief business officer at the University of Maine in Orono.

The Pennsylvania-based Storbeck coordinated the search for a new president of the University of Maine at Augusta that resulted in the April selection of Michael Laliberte.

Laliberte, who was set to start Aug. 1, withdrew from his contract last month following revelations that he had faced votes of no confidence and calls for his resignation from students and faculty at his former institution in New York, and that the full UMA presidential search committee was never informed of them.

Even though Laliberte has withdrawn, the University of Maine System will be on the hook to ensure he receives at least the amount he was set to earn as UMA’s president over the next nearly three years. With his $205,000 salary and $30,000 annual housing allowance, that arrangement could end up costing the university system nearly $700,000, according to the agreement the system and Laliberte finalized on May 27.

Laliberte faced no-confidence votes from both the College Senate and student government at the State University of New York at Delhi last fall. University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy and Sven Bartholomew, the system trustee leading the 14-member UMA presidential search committee, were both aware of the College Senate vote yet never informed the rest of the search committee, the university system has confirmed.

The university system later said Malloy and Bartholomew didn’t share the information on the advice of the Storbeck director coordinating the search. Malloy and Bartholomew have said they now regret that the full search committee never learned of the no-confidence vote.

Storbeck denied to the Chronicle of Higher Education that it gave that advice.

Malloy has since ordered a review of all active employment searches in the university system, including those involving private search firms like Storbeck. He has also said that he’ll propose requiring that candidates for campus president and provost positions disclose whether they’ve ever been the subject of a no-confidence vote.

The review, which is still underway, will result in a report that will include recommendations for any policy changes to ensure the University of Maine System follows best practices for employment searches and that all relevant information about applicants for employment is available to those making hiring decisions, system spokesperson Margaret Nagle said.

Storbeck’s website listing its active searches says the firm is charged with finding the next dean of a new statewide system college called the Maine College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science and UMaine’s next vice president for finance and administration and chief business officer.

The search for the engineering college dean is down to three finalists.

Storbeck has previously worked with the UMaine System on three other presidential searches costing the system $431,069.

Storbeck led the search for the University of Maine at Fort Kent president-provost role in 2020, the UMaine Farmington presidential search in 2018 and the UMaine presidential search in 2018.

The University of Maine System paid Storbeck $70,000 for the UMA presidential search, and it has the option of using the firm again because of a “replacement guarantee” that entitles the system to a six-month search if the selected candidate resigns.

However, the university system has made no decisions on its future use of Storbeck’s services.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...