After failing to disclose a vote of no confidence in the incoming University of Maine at Augusta’s (UMA) leadership, University of Maine System (UMS) chancellor Dannel Malloy has now received two votes of no confidence in his leadership.
On May 13, the University of Southern Maine (USM) Faculty Senate voted to declare no confidence in Malloy’s leadership. The vote came a day after the UMA Faculty Senate voted to declare no confidence in Malloy.
Malloy is facing scrutiny for failing to disclose that students and faculty of the State University of New York at Delhi (SUNY Delhi) voted to declare no confidence in university president Michael Laliberte’s leadership. Laliberte was chosen by a search committee to serve as the next president of UMA. Laliberte stepped down from SUNY Delhi on April 8, the day after it was announced he would serve as UMA’s next president.
Both Malloy and Sven Bartholomew, chair of the presidential search committee, were made aware of the no confidence votes by a consulting firm involved in the search and withheld that information from the rest of the committee. The no confidence vote was based on charges Laliberte mishandled SUNY Delhi budget funds and changed the budgeting and planning process to decrease oversight and transparency.
Both the faculty and student senates held no confidence votes in October 2021. The votes were transmitted to Laliberte approximately a week later. Faculty asked Laliberte to resign in November 2021.
In a statement released on May 6, Malloy addressed his foreknowledge of the no confidence votes taken against Laliberte, saying he was informed in February by the managing director of Storbeck Search, the consulting firm facilitating the search committee, that the SUNY Delhi allegations were “not substantiated and should not be given serious consideration in the search.”
“Current media reports present the SUNY Delhi faculty allegations against President Laliberte as if they were true. However, the Storbeck confidential reference checks and my own review confirmed that the SUNY administration carefully investigated the faculty claims against President Laliberte and found them to be without merit. The SUNY administration did not ask President Laliberte to step down or resign; he is choosing to leave to come to the University of Maine at Augusta of his own volition,” Malloy said in a statement.
Six days later, on May 12, Malloy was informed the UMA faculty senate had passed two resolutions to declare no confidence in his leadership and in the presidential search. The resolution asks the search for a new president be declared “failed” and for a new search to begin immediately.
Malloy said via a statement that he had apologized and listened to the faculty senate’s concerns prior to the vote.
“I reiterate my regret and sincere apology to the UMA and UMS communities. Yesterday morning, I also informed the UMA Presidential Search Committee that we will revise our search policies for president and provost positions immediately to require a declaration from candidates as to whether they have ever been the subject of a no-confidence vote,” Malloy said.
The same day, the UMS Board of Trustees announced they were reviewing the UMA faculty senate’s resolutions and were “reviewing what can be done to improve the integrity of the UMS presidential searches, as well as the confidence of our university communities in them.”
Following the revelations about Laliberte, the president of the union for UMA faculty said Bartholomew destroyed the presidential search by failing to disclose the no confidence votes. Jim McClymer, president of the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, further said the system and leadership “abused” members of the search committee and the trust of the UMA community.
On May 13, Malloy received a vote of no confidence in his leadership from the USM faculty senate.
“I am not perfect as a leader. When I’ve made mistakes, I’ve tried to publicly acknowledge them. We as leaders in Maine’s public university system should all approach our challenges with humility and a willingness to work constructively together to advance our mutual interests and better serve the people of Maine. I intend to model these characteristics in my own work, and I hope the faculty at the University of Southern Maine will join me in that effort as we look forward together to welcoming a new president next Monday who shares these values,” Malloy said in a statement acknowledging the resolution.
The same day, Malloy called for an immediate review of the university system’s active employment searches, including those being “led or supported by outside consulting firms,” and human resources policies related to how they are conducted.
According to a statement from UMS, the review is “expected to lead to policy changes and other improvements to correct problems” that surfaced through the UMA presidential search.
Malloy asked universities to identify active employment searches being assisted by outside consultants by May 18. He also asked Loretta Shields, chief human resources officer for UMS, to review all UMS policies relating to the “conduct of employment searches” and make recommendations about whether changes should be made within 30 days.
The statement also noted that Malloy announced earlier in the week that he intended to propose revisions to UMS employment search policies to require candidates for president and provost positions to declare whether they had ever been subject to a no-confidence vote.
USM’s no confidence vote also touched on more than Malloy’s failure to disclose information in Laliberte’s hiring. It charged donations have been “used to dictate program curricula” without “proper faculty oversight” and alleged individual universities’ ability to autonomously hire faculty and staff has been “usurped by the UMS system office.”
But it also mentioned the retrenchment of nine faculty members at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), which it alleged was done without following the Board Of Trustees’ procedures and in violation of an arbitration ruling from 2016.
Faculty learned of the cuts on May 2. According to Margaret Nagle, a spokesperson for UMS, the layoffs were made necessary by a $5 million budget gap and union protocol was followed when determining which employees to lay off. The faculty members who were laid off all worked within the humanities and social sciences.
On May 11, students at the University of Maine at Farmington held a 24-hour sit-in at Merrill Hall protesting the cuts. The students wrote a list of demands and called for Malloy’s removal as chancellor.
While UMS initially declined to identify which departments faced cuts out of concern this would identify individual faculty members, the Sun Journal learned all staff from the women’s and gender studies program, the philosophy/religion department, and the modern languages department had been eliminated. The geography, history, and psychology departments also lost some faculty members.
According to a document Nagle shared with MainePublic, because UMF’s financial status is “weak and growing weaker,” both the university and its “most productive programs” have a “questionable future.”
“Programs with modest to weak contributions consume resources without enhancing the institutional financial overlook. This in turn deprives the more productive programs of resources that might help assure continued good performance or even improvements,” the document continues.
The university cut the women’s and gender studies program because it did not have a major and the program only supported a minor, which had four individuals enrolled for the spring 2022 semester. Similarly, the philosophy/religion program, which supported a major, two minors, and general education curriculum, was cut. The department had three graduating majors for spring 2022 and no incoming majors for the fall 2022 semester.
A process to relocate the faculty within the UMS is reportedly underway.
Malloy received a third vote of no confidence in his leadership from the UMF faculty on May 19. The resolution on which the UMF faculty voted alleged Malloy had “engaged in a pattern of behavior that disregards the standards of shared governance and the autonomy and missions of the individual UMS campuses.” It also touched on the retrenchment the university is facing.
Malloy said via press release that he takes the vote seriously and understands UMF faculty are “reacting to very difficult decisions and challenges.”
“The System will continue to do everything that it can to find new opportunities for the members of the faculty who were directly impacted by these changes. I know this is hard and I know that there will be those who disagree with this course of action. I am accountable for my decision to approve this plan, as difficult as it is, and understand that it is my responsibility to implement the vision and strategies set forth by the Board of Trustees even when that requires incredibly hard choices,” Malloy said.
Laliberte is still scheduled to begin as UMA’s president on August 1.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on May 19 to reflect a third no confidence vote in Malloy’s leadership taken by the faculty senate at the University of Maine Farmington.
Photo: University of Maine System