The Chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees Trish Riley and Chancellor Dannel Malloy jointly released the statements below following the Board’s unanimous decision to extend the Chancellor’s contract by one year, with some conditions, including those related to improved communications and financial stability.
The Chancellor has agreed to these terms and to forego his 2022 bonus and a salary increase in 2023, notwithstanding the 3% cost of living increase that all management receives.
As a board, our primary obligation is to ensure that students have access to high-quality, accessible, and affordable public higher education. And we must meet that obligation in a time of economic uncertainty, declining enrollment and increasing costs while also fulfilling our responsibility to maintain financial stability and sustainability.
The University of Maine System, like institutions of higher education across the country, faces significant challenges — fewer students enrolling in higher education means reduced revenues. A changing and globalized marketplace brings new demands for critical thinkers who have skills to fill and lead a dynamic workforce. UMS needs to be nimble to best serve our students and our state, and that takes leadership.
As the Chancellor Review Committee, working on behalf of the Board, took up a review of Chancellor Malloy’s leadership, we were confronted with a failed UMA presidential search that resulted in financial and reputational loss, by votes of no confidence from faculty senates, as well as lingering resentments about the lack of transparency and engagement with affected parties prior to launching the retiree health change. The Board takes these concerns very seriously and recognizes a pattern of action without adequate engagement. We see an urgency to rebuild trust. We weighed those concerns against the urgency to act to assure UMS can overcome its challenges and continue its progress to adapt to rapidly changing realities.
Under Chancellor Malloy’s leadership, the System has successfully navigated a pandemic. We have launched the first-in-the-nation UMS Unified Accreditation strategy that can support, and possibly transform, small campuses and help share resources so our educational offerings remain strong, affordable and accredited.
The System has secured one of the largest-ever gifts to a public institution of higher education, thanks to the generosity of the Harold Alfond Foundation; the flagship university achieved prestigious R1 status, putting it among the nation’s top research universities; and historic investments are being made to modernize infrastructure at all UMS campuses so we can better recruit and retain students, while decreasing operating and maintenance costs.
The Law School has been revitalized and is now its own institution, reporting to the Chancellor, and the Graduate Center is poised to support exciting, new interdisciplinary, cross university collaboration.
We are in the middle of strategic planning to ensure the System remains viable and relevant to families, employers, and the economy of the State of Maine.
These ongoing initiatives, coupled with a new president at USM, hired by Chancellor Malloy following an open and successful search, two interim presidents and an interim vice chancellor speak to the need for stability.
We weighed the Chancellor’s serious missteps and lack of effective communication and engagement against his considerable accomplishments. We had candid conversations with the Chancellor and appreciate the thought he has given to our current circumstances.
With thanks to Chancellor Review Committee members Lisa Eames and David MacMahon and to the input from many, we propose a one-year contract for the Chancellor. The year will give the Chancellor an opportunity to rebuild trust, increase transparency and sustain the momentum of needed change that he has begun. The extension will also help us to maintain stability as we look to fill important leadership roles at several campuses and weather the current financial uncertainties we face.
The Chancellor has agreed to these terms and, in recognition of the seriousness of the issues of the past year, has agreed to forego his 2022 bonus and a salary increase in 2023, notwithstanding the 3% COLA all management receives.
The Board expects that the terms and conditions we have outlined with the Chancellor will be met and we will hold him accountable to do so. If so, next year at this time we can discuss a longer-term employment agreement with him.
The Board expects significant engagement and involvement of the presidents, faculty, staff, students, and key constituencies going forward with a commitment to transparency.
We know that every constituency may not agree with every decision the Chancellor and this Board makes, but we will make them in the light of day, after carefully listening to all concerns, and we will make sure that the rationale for those decisions is clear.
This has been a difficult period for the University of Maine System. The Board of Trustees is committed to providing a robust system of public universities while upholding our fiduciary responsibilities to the people of Maine. As a Board, we share responsibility for the issues that have been identified and commit ourselves to increase trust and collaboration.
Extending the Chancellor’s contract is the best path to ensure that we make improvements, maintain progress, and continue to meet Maine’s needs and provide an affordable, high-quality education to our students. As we begin this new chapter, the Board of Trustees stands with the Chancellor, presidents, faculty, staff, students, and all who make UMS what it is and commit to working together to assure success in the year ahead.
I am sorry for the turmoil my mistakes have created for Maine’s public universities in recent months, and especially that they have distracted from the incredible accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff. From the celebration of our 4,500 new graduates to a commitment to hold tuition flat yet again for Maine families to securing a unified accreditation that allows students at any of our campuses to more seamlessly access the resources of our entire System and maintains our smallest universities where they are, we have made tremendous progress under my tenure all while maintaining in-person learning and research during a global pandemic.
I want to thank the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to continue to serve as Chancellor of the University of Maine System. I am truly humbled by their unanimous vote for me today, and by the experience of the past three months. As we rise together to meet the challenges and changes ahead, I am committed to building trust and transparency, and enhancing communication and collaboration with Trustees, our world-class faculty, staff and students, the Legislature, employer community and other stakeholders whose inclusion and insight will only make our System stronger.
The success of the System Chancellor and that of our universities are inextricably linked. Just as Trustees have put their confidence in me to continue moving Maine’s public universities forward, I ask that our campus community members and the people of Maine also give me the opportunity to continue to work together with them in mutual good faith to best position our students and our universities and the constituencies they serve for future success.