Review of state university system hiring policies finds UMA presidential search violated rules


Officials violated University of Maine system policies by not consulting with human resources on whether to hire Michael Laliberte as president of the University of Maine at Augusta after discovering he had received votes of no confidence at his former university, according to an internal review. File Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The University of Maine Augusta’s recently failed presidential search violated a policy requiring negative candidate information to be discussed with the human resources department before hiring decisions are made, according to an internal review of the system. state university.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy ordered the review on May 12 after reports emerged that he and the chair of the search committee had failed to release information that Michael Laliberte, who had just been hired as chair of WBU, had received votes of no confidence from faculty and students at his former university. The review was scheduled to take place on June 13, and a draft of the document was posted on Tuesday’s agenda for the University of Maine’s system board meeting scheduled for Monday.

The specific policy that WBU research has violated was enacted about a decade ago as part of the Trustees’ “Professional Background and Selection Policy.”

The report assigns no specific blame for who was at fault in failing to disclose the information, other than saying that “the hiring or employment department” should have consulted with the university’s human resources office to this subject.

Laliberte received two votes of no confidence from his former employer, the State University of New York in Delhi, which Storbeck Search managing director Jim Sirianni discovered while reviewing his candidacy. Sirianni told Malloy and search committee chairman Sven Bartholomew, but not the rest of the 14-member search committee. It was up to Malloy and Bartholomew to decide whether or not to share the information with the full committee, officials at consultancy firm Storbeck said.

Laliberté, who was due to start Aug. 1, retired from his job at the end of May. The university system agreed to pay him up to $235,000 a year for three years, in a settlement that at least one higher education expert called unusual.

The decision came as the seven-school system faced a budget shortfall of nearly $19 million for the fiscal year that began July 1. UMA is the third largest school in the system and one of only two not to face a budget deficit.

At the July 11 meeting where administrators are due to consider proposed changes to job search policies, they are also expected to decide whether to renew Malloy’s contract for the next year or more.

At Malloy’s request, job search policies were reviewed by the Office of Human Resources in consultation with the University of Maine’s Office of System Counsel and in analysis with the employee handbook, policies of the UMS Board of Directors, contracts of UMS Administrative Practice Letters and to ensure compliance. with Maine law.

The research review indicated that policies, going forward, must ensure that research is managed with integrity, best practices are followed, and all relevant information is made available to those who review and recommend research. candidates to hire.

For future research into the system, the Office of Human Resources and the General Counsel have proposed the following changes, in draft form, for consideration by the Board of Directors:

• General Counsel and Human Resources should be involved in future searches — UMS’s policy for executive searches does not currently include offices.

• The employee handbook should be distributed to all employees upon onboarding and when policies are reviewed and updated. The employee must sign an acknowledgment that they have read the policies and the manual.

• All executive searches and other job searches must comply with Board Policy 415 — the policy that WBU’s search did not follow. Additionally, applicants must submit answers to relevant questions regarding a previous investigation of sexual harassment, non-violent or violent assault, or other misconduct.

• Candidates’ names will be made public when they are in the final stages of the hiring process.

• The Research Committee will have an open forum with faculty, staff, and students and they will all have the opportunity to submit follow-up questions and comments.

• The search policies for presidents and provost positions will require candidates to disclose if they have been the subject of a vote of no confidence.

A formal request to review the application and hiring process will be made at the July 11 meeting.

The document also lists companies used for past candidate searches. These are the following;

• Academic research used for the University of Southern Maine President (started October 2021, now complete),

• Storbeck Search used for University of Maine Augusta President (started Oct 2021, ended after Laliberte failed to hire), University of Maine Dean of the College of Engineering, Information & Computer Science (started in February, currently ongoing) and Vice President of Finance and Administration and CBO of the University of Maine (started in February, currently ongoing).

• The Register used to find Betsy Sawhill-Espe as Acting CBO of the University of Maine at Près Isle (started Nov 2020, completed), Buster Neel as Acting CBO of the University of Maine at Augusta and previously at USM (started May 2020, completed). ) Joanne Yestramski as CBO and Acting Vice President of Finance at the University of Maine (started Nov 2020, ended), David Tracy as Acting Dean of Enrollment at the University of Maine at Fort Kent ( started Jan, completed), King Godwin as Acting University of Maine at Fort Kent Dean of Arts, Science, and Professional Studies (started Jan, completed).

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