University system leaders ‘abused the search process’ by choosing WBU president

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The union representing faculty in the University of Maine system wants changes to how the system conducts future hiring after selecting the new president of the University of Maine at Augusta without disclosing to search committee members that the professors and students at his current institution had cast votes of no confidence in his leadership.

The president of the Associated Faculties of Maine Universities said on Tuesday that the leadership of the university system had “abused the research process” and “destroyed the legitimacy of research” by hiring Michael Laliberte, who will become UMA president on August 1. .

Laliberte will assume the leadership role about 10 months after the College Senate and student government at the institution he has led since 2016, the State University of New York in Delhi, voted no confidence in of his leadership.

The votes came after a letter signed by at least 100 faculty and staff was sent to the Chancellor of the New York State University System saying Laliberte had been fiscally irresponsible and that he and his team of leadership had “enabled a culture of disrespect and hostility.

The union’s statement was a reaction to reports in the Bangor Daily News that showed both UMaine system chancellor Dannel Malloy and the chairman of the 14-member search committee tasked with choosing finalists, system administrator Sven Bartholomew, were both aware of the professors’ no-confidence vote. but did not inform the search committee.

Malloy and Bartholomew learned of the vote of no confidence from a consultant hired by the University of Maine system to help with presidential research, Jim Sirianni of the firm Storbeck Search.

All members of the search committee have signed a code of ethics designed to “ensure that a decision is made based on the most complete and accurate information”. By signing the code of ethics, the members of the research committee have agreed to “protect themselves against inaccuracies, negligence, biases and distortions resulting from the emphasis or omission of information” and have pledged ” to be fair, accurate, honest and responsible in my handling of information”. .”

Bartholomew, however, did not share information about the faculty members’ vote of no confidence with other committee members, the University of Maine system confirmed.

“The facts indicate that the trustee heading the search committee did not follow this code,” union president Jim McClymer, an associate professor of physics at the University of Maine, said in a statement released Tuesday. “In doing so, the president violated the trust of the committee, the UMA community, and destroyed the legitimacy of the research.”

Under the code of ethics, members of the search committee agreed to first submit “reports of concern” about nominees to the president “to allow for checks on their accuracy before sharing them widely.”

The faculty union also opposed this provision of the code of ethics, calling on the University of Maine system to allow committee members in future research to be able to “share relevant information if the president refuses to do so. “.

After the Bangor Daily News reported on Saturday that Bartholomew did not share information about the vote of no confidence with the rest of the search committee, the University System says Bartholomew did not “intentionally withhold” the information. . On the contrary, Barthélemy relied on Sirianni’s advice.

“It was understood that it was up to Mr. Sirianni or the candidate to bring the matter to the attention of the entire search committee,” the statement said.

Both Malloy and Bartholomew said last week that they regretted the information about the vote of no confidence was never passed on to the full search committee.

However, the teachers’ union believes this is not an isolated incident, McClymer said.

“As we know, this is not the only breach of ethics in the recent past. UMS has been unwilling to acknowledge, let alone accept responsibility for these failures,” he said. “Most importantly, they have no process in place to prevent these violations from continuing to occur.”

University of Maine system spokeswoman Margaret Nagle said Malloy, Laliberte and Vice Chancellor Jim Thelen will discuss presidential research with the UMA faculty senate at its meeting on Wednesday. .

Additionally, the system is willing and prepared to discuss the same concerns with the faculty union, but union members have yet to request such a meeting, Nagle said.

In an emailed message to the UMA community on Tuesday, Laliberte said objections to his leadership at SUNY Delhi stemmed from his status as an “agent of change.” A specific group of people on campus opposed his changes.

“They have publicly stated that they want ‘things to go back to the way they were,'” Laliberte said. “The only way they thought they could accomplish this task was to oppose me and the leadership team, distribute a petition based entirely on misrepresentation, conduct the vote of no confidence, and ask Chancellor SUNY to withdraw immediately.”

According to Laliberte, SUNY management investigated the claims that prompted the votes of no confidence and found them “baseless.”

Laliberté said he should have “made a point to directly address the vote of no confidence, and I’m sorry I didn’t.” Not to do so was an error in judgement. My desire to make a good impression and stay positive clouded my judgment and led to my silence on this painful issue.

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