Dannel Malloy will get at least one more year as chancellor of the University of Maine System, but the board he answers to is testing him.
The terms of Malloy’s one-year contract extension are far more specific than those in his first, holding him to specific metrics and objectives that show the pressure the board of trustees is putting the former Connecticut governor under after a disastrous spring for the system.
The university system’s board of trustees voted unanimously to extend Malloy’s contract until June 30, 2023, to ensure stability and after intense scrutiny from faculty and outside onlookers for the botched University of Maine at Augusta presidential search and recent cuts to departments at the University of Maine at Farmington.
“We weighed the chancellor’s serious missteps and lack of effective communication and engagement against his considerable accomplishments,” chair of the board Trish Riley said in a statement she read aloud at a Monday meeting. “We had candid conversations with the chancellor and appreciate the thought he has given to our current circumstances.”
In his previous contract, the specific responsibilities the chancellor had to meet were broad and sweeping. In this new contract, the chancellor must produce specific items to show he is putting in the work to rebuild trust across the system, Riley said.
By the next board meeting in September, Malloy has to provide the board a plan as to how he will improve communication and engagement with university presidents, faculty and staff that he will then execute throughout the fiscal year.
Malloy “must expand” his communication with trustees to ensure “no surprises,” the contract says. This means the chancellor must ensure that any policy initiatives are discussed with the board, including a full review of the pros and the cons of any initiative he wants to take on. The chancellor must also identify key stakeholders and how he will engage with them.
While the system is facing budgetary uncertainty, Malloy must ensure timely identification of any budgetary shortfalls throughout this fiscal year. Currently the system is seeing a dramatic drop in student enrollment, which means a loss of revenue. At the same time, state funding to the system has not matched the gaps forming in campus budgets.
On top of the initial notification, Malloy will also have to present proposed budgetary actions to the board throughout the year. Potentially more challenging, Malloy has to present trustees with an initial budget for the fiscal year 2024 that would not rely on the system’s budget reserves.
Malloy will have to successfully bring the new president of the University of Southern Maine, Jacqueline Edmondson, on board as well as launch a new and successful search for the next UMA president.
On top of that, the board expects Malloy to keep it apprised of the financial status of the University of Maine at Farmington, which has not had a balanced budget for nearly a decade.
The chancellor must also ensure that all financial audits come back with an “unmodified opinion” with no material weaknesses determined by outside auditors. The chancellor will redesign a position within his office from “public relations” to “strategy adviser and external affairs director,” according to the contract.
Last year, the board also charged Malloy with creating a new strategic plan for the system. Under the new contract, he has been tasked with meeting the current timetable laid out for the development of the new plan.
Malloy will also have to work with an executive training coach selected by the board. In a statement, Malloy said he is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving in the role for another year and is “committed to building trust and transparency.”
Outside of the new contract stipulations, Riley said she will meet weekly with Malloy to monitor his progress. Riley said faculty may not agree with the board’s decision to extend Malloy’s contract, but the board and faculty agree there is room for improvement from Malloy.
“[Faculty] may not agree with the extension of the contract, but we all agree that the issues of engagement and communication need to be vastly improved,” she said.