Embattled chancellor gets at least one more year at the helm of Maine’s university system

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Dannel Malloy will continue in his role as University of Maine system chancellor for at least one more year after the system’s board of trustees renewed the former Connecticut governor’s contract on Monday.

The administrators voted to extend Malloy’s contract for another year. In Malloy’s contract with the system which was due to expire at the end of June, but which was extended by the board’s executive committee until July 11, the board could offer him a one-year extension a year before signing. of his contract. expire and then offer an annual extension resulting in a two-year term, per Malloy’s contract.

Board chair Trish Riley, who read a statement before the board voted unanimously to approve the extension, said the decision to keep Malloy at the helm leadership was not easy, but was necessary to maintain stability within the system.

“The year will give the Chancellor the opportunity to rebuild trust, increase transparency and maintain the momentum for the necessary change he has started,” she said. “The year will also help us maintain stability as we seek to fill several important leadership positions.”

Malloy’s new contract must meet a series of objectives developed by the board in conjunction with the chancellor, who must create a new communications plan, establish a “no surprises” relationship with board leadership and report regularly to the president. advice.

His future has been the subject of speculation in recent weeks following the failed search for a new president at the University of Maine at Augusta that could end up costing the system nearly $700,000 over three years. Professors at three of the system’s seven universities have cast votes of no confidence in Malloy’s leadership since the research, with professors at the other four writing letters of support for those votes.

Malloy came to the system after two terms as Connecticut’s Democratic governor from 2010 to 2018. He opted out of re-election in 2018, ending his term with a 21% approval rating in a Morning Consult poll. of July 2018, the second lowest. in the country.

The hiring of a high-level politician marked a turning point for the system in terms of its leadership position. Past chancellors have typically been private sector leaders or educators, such as Malloy’s predecessor James Page, who was CEO of James W. Sewall Co. in Old Town and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Maine in Orono.

Under Malloy, the system moved from independent accreditations at each university to a single accreditation for the entire system, a move the system had provided for since 1968. The Higher Education Commission of New England, a regional organization which assesses whether colleges and universities meet basic quality standards, approved the move in 2020.

Accreditation is a seal of approval by a regional assessment agency showing that an educational institution meets a quality criterion. When a university receives accreditation, it means that its academic programs meet basic quality standards, that its facilities are sufficient for college education, and that it has a particular organizational structure.

The move to a single credentialing status has been controversial, with faculty across the system raising concerns about how resources are shared and what priorities at which universities are chosen over others.

Malloy and system administrators argued that unified accreditation would allow the seven universities in the University of Maine system to share more resources, faculty, and services. But faculty have expressed concerns that the model leads to less autonomy for individual campuses.

In recent months, Malloy has been the subject of several votes of no confidence from faculty in the University of Maine system.

The votes of no confidence in Malloy are part of a wave of such votes across the country. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, seven of the last eight years have seen a record number of no-confidence votes among faculty. Last year, faculty members at 24 campuses cast votes of no confidence, according to the publication.

In the University of Southern Maine’s May censorship resolution, USM faculty said the university system rushed unified accreditation without enough input from staff and faculty and “without any vision or explanation clear how it improves the existing model for cooperating departments”. The result is the impression that unified accreditation is just a way to reduce faculty, the resolution says.

As the system rolled out unified accreditation, it also introduced a change in retiree health benefits that was quickly criticized, as the system failed to negotiate the changes through collective bargaining and gave little notice.

The change would have moved retirees of the university system from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution health care plan. The change was expected to save the public university system $2.5 million a year, but retirees sued and the system continued with its existing plan in 2020.

Much of the criticism of Malloy’s leadership has focused on the botched search for the next president of the University of Maine at Augusta. A new search for a new candidate for this position is expected to begin in the fall of 2022.

As part of the extension, Malloy will forfeit his 2022 bonus and a 2023 salary increase, board chair Trish Riley said. His contract will expire in June 2023. His new salary for the next year is just over $380,000. under Malloy’s new contract.

For Malloy and the system there are a number of challenges ahead and the Chancellor said he is ready to go back to the drawing board.

“Mistakes are embarrassing and making the same mistake twice would be really bad,” Malloy said. “I want to make sure that the system and future leaders never find themselves in this situation.”

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