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 University of Maine System failed to follow its own policies in approving a short-term extension of Chancellor Dannel Malloy’s contract, when the system’s lead trustee and Malloy arrived at a “mutual agreement” to extend the contract until at least July 11.

The short-term extension came despite multiple statements from a university system spokesperson over the past month that the full board of trustees would convene in a public session to take action on Malloy’s contract, and even though the chancellor’s contract and system policy lay out a specific process for a contract extension that doesn’t provide for a board chair’s unilateral action.

Malloy’s future has been a topic of speculation in recent weeks following the bungled search for a new president of the University of Maine at Augusta that could end up costing the system nearly $700,000 over three years. Faculty from three of the system’s seven universities have cast votes of no confidence in Malloy’s leadership since the search, with faculty at the four others writing letters of support.

Trish Riley, the newly appointed chair of the board of trustees, said Thursday during a two-hour session with Maine lawmakers that the system had extended Malloy’s three-year contract past its June 30 end date. The full board of trustees is expected to determine Malloy’s future at its next scheduled meeting, which is set for July 11.

At his $350,000 salary, Malloy will earn more than $10,000 during the 11-day extension.

Riley did not respond to a call seeking comment on the extension.

University system spokesperson Margaret Nagle said Riley and Malloy had reached a “mutual agreement” relying on legal advice under which “the chancellor can continue in his duties under the terms of his existing contract until the board takes final action on a new contract, which is anticipated at the July 11 Board meeting.”

Nagle confirmed that no board vote happened to approve that agreement.

The Bangor Daily News has asked for weeks when the board was expected to take action on Malloy’s contract, given its June 30 expiration and the lack of a scheduled board meeting before that date. 

Each time, Nagle said the full board would have to take any action on Malloy’s contract and that the action would happen in a public meeting. 

But no such meeting has happened.

On Monday, in advance of a meeting of the system board’s executive committee, Nagle told the BDN the full board “would need to convene to act on Chancellor Malloy’s contract.

“Currently, no special meeting of the UMS Board of Trustees has been scheduled,” she said. “If the board schedules a special meeting, there will be public notification.” 

Similarly, on June 3, Nagle said a special meeting of the Board of Trustees would need to be scheduled to act on Malloy’s contract and that no such meeting had been scheduled. 

And on May 23, following the last meeting of the full system board, Nagle said the board would have to act on the chancellor’s contract and that the board will “schedule action on the Chancellor’s contract extension/renewal.”

The university system’s process to extend the chancellor’s contract, which is laid out in its policy manual, has already been underway for more than a year.

Trustees voted at their May 24, 2021, meeting to authorize the board’s chancellor review committee to start negotiating an extension of Malloy’s contract.

No provision in the chancellor’s contract allows a short-term extension by the chair of the board of trustees.

Before any contract extension, the university system requires a comprehensive, outside review of the chancellor that trustees are to evaluate ahead of his reappointment or dismissal.

Trustees reviewed that evaluation for the first time in an executive session at their last meeting, which happened May 22 and 23.

Malloy’s contract states that he is subject to the system’s handbook and policies for non-represented faculty and salaried staff. No language in the handbook states the chair of the board of trustees has the authority to extend the chancellor’s contract. 

Further, no provision in the board’s policy manual gives the board chair the power to unilaterally approve an extension to the chancellor’s contract. 

Nagle said the short-term extension happened to accommodate recent board turnover. With newly selected board officers taking their positions, a new chancellor review committee also had to be formed, she said. 

“There was no vote or action taken by the Board of Trustees or the Chancellor Review Committee in regards to this mutual agreement,” Nagle said Thursday of the short-term extension. “The chancellor’s contract is set to expire on June 30. This short-term solution means he can continue to serve in his current capacity until the regular Board meeting.”

The full board of trustees will meet on July 11 at the University of Maine for its first meeting of the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.  

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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...