Upon granting unified accreditation to the University of Maine System in July 2020, our regional accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), asked us to prepare a self-study in advance of a Fall 2022 visit by a NECHE-appointed evaluation team. Standard Three: Organization and Governance can be found on this page.Read the full self-study
I. Governing Board
Organization and governing Board
The Charter (P&S Laws 1985, chapter 532 as amended) of the University of Maine System (UMS), state law (Title 20-A MRSA, chapter 411), and the UMS Board of Trustees (Board) bylaws (Section 103) and policies describe the public policy on higher education, the authority and responsibilities of the Board and its appointed officers (Chancellor, Presidents, Treasurer, and Clerk), and the governance relationship among the Board, administration, faculty, and students.
The Board is the legally constituted body ultimately responsible for UMS’s quality and integrity. This authority and responsibility are vested through Maine state statutes and Section 4 of the UMS charter. The Board comprises 16 members, 15 of whom are appointed by the Governor and approved by the Maine legislature through a public confirmation process. The appointment process is meant to ensure that the Board is sufficiently independent to act in the best interests of all UMS universities. Fourteen trustees are appointed for five-year terms, a full-time student serves as a voting member for a two-year term, and the State Commissioner of Education serves as an ex officio voting member.
The Board has adopted policies and bylaws defining its governance authority, responsibilities, and procedures. Each university has a president who reports to the Chancellor. The structure of the System is supplied in organizational charts that display the working order of the institution (see pp. XXVI-XXXIV). The Chancellor oversees UMS academic, research, administrative, finance, and development functions.
Board members are bound by a code of ethical conduct. Article 1, Section 1.2c of the UMS policy manual reads: “A Board member shall not vote on a matter in which he or she has a financial interest[,] and each Trustee shall be bound by an appropriate code of ethics, as adopted by the Board of Trustees.” In addition, the Board’s operating principles require that its members:
- Be accountable for governance, policy-making, and making decisions that are the responsibility of the Board of Trustees.
- Understand and respect the public’s need for trust in office Avoid conflict of interest concerns, both real conflict and the possibility of perceived conflict.
- Understand UMS finances.
- Be forthright with concerns. Concerns should be brought forward as they arise to the Board Chair, the Chancellor, or the appropriate committee chair.
- Advocate for higher education with the public and elected officials in coordination with, and awareness of, the Chair, Chancellor, and System senior staff.
The elected Chair and Vice Chair and committee chairs form the Board’s Executive Committee. They organize the Board’s work and represent the broader body as required. The Board applies an inclusive process and develops consensus collectively. On major decisions— e.g. hiring a Chancellor or President, approving a budget or a tuition increase, or altering a university’s mission— the Board acts through a deliberative process.
The Board Chair is evaluated annually, and other Board members complete an annual self- assessment. These practices are referenced in Board bylaws under Article II, Section 2.3 and Section 2.6. The Board communicates regularly with the Chancellor and UMS senior staff.
The Board makes policy for UMS and oversees its implementation, provides leadership within UMS and in the state, and is committed to strengthening postsecondary education, the unique characteristics of each UMS university and the Law School, and UMS as a whole. The Board is responsible for hiring the Chancellor and plays a central role in hiring university Presidents.
The Board advocates aggressively for resources to support UMS and is responsible and accountable for resource stewardship. In 2018, the Board released a Declaration of Strategic Priorities to Address Critical State Needs that guided resource allocation and investment until 2021.
The Board is the UMS governing and planning body and is responsible for supporting and enhancing its mission, providing sound financial management, exercising prudent stewardship of assets, evaluating the Chancellor and Presidents, allocating resources and planning strategies for programs that most effectively serve the educational needs of citizens, developing and maintaining a strong system of accountability to the public for performance results, visibly advocating for higher education as a means to strengthen the economy and communities of the state, and establishing mechanisms for review and approval of programs. It has final authority over all matters in its jurisdiction, including all educational, research, and public service policies, financial policy, and the relation of UMS to the state and federal governments.
At the UMS level, there is a student Board representative from each university and one student trustee. At the campus level, various structures exist. Some universities have student senates that present reports to the Faculty Senate, and others (like the University of Maine) have undergraduate and graduate student representatives to the Faculty Senate and to the Provost’s Council. Each of the seven universities has a faculty governance body (senate or assembly). The Law School is governed by its own Faculty Personnel Policies addressing initial appointment, reappointment, promotion, and reappointment with tenure.
The Board includes the non-voting roles of faculty and student representatives. Board policy provides for one faculty member and one undergraduate student from each of the seven universities, and two graduate students representing the universities that house expanded graduate programs. There is also a student representative from the Law School. A faculty representative and student representative serve on the Board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee (ASA) and Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee (FFT). They are not present for Board executive session meetings.
Internal UMS governance
The Board appoints the Chancellor, UMS Presidents, the Treasurer of the Board, and the Clerk of the Board. It also approves members of the Boards of Visitors for each UMS university. The responsibilities and authority of these officers and the Boards of Visitors members are defined in the charter, state law, and the Board’s bylaws and policies.
The Board conducts its business through meetings of the full Board and its standing committees: Executive Committee; Academic and Student Affairs Committee; Audit Committee; Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee; Investment Committee; and Human Resources and Labor Relations Committee. The Board annually engages in a self-evaluation process and an evaluation of the Board Chair’s performance. The full Board meets as a whole in person six times per year to conduct business. (During the first two years of the pandemic, the Board and its committees met via Zoom. In-person meetings resumed in March 2022.) The standing committees meet in the intervening weeks. The Board holds an annual two-day retreat and a yearly summit with the Boards of Visitors of all UMS universities.
Under state law, the Chancellor is the chief administrative and educational officer of UMS. The Chancellor provides leadership to UMS in addressing the state’s highest priority needs; establishes a vision and planning to provide quality education that is affordable and accessible for students and strengthens the economy of the state; promotes planning for academic and student affairs, outreach and community services, financial operations, capital plans, and resource allocations; prepares operating and capital budgets, appropriation requests, and bond issues; takes an active role in the nomination, appointment, and evaluation of the university Presidents and other major staff positions; develops and enacts an effective statewide public relations and legislative program; provides centralized management oversight of services; and coordinates academic offerings.
The Chancellor, Presidents, Law Dean, Vice Chancellors, and additional UMS senior staff comprise the Presidents Council and serve as the UMS leadership team.
The Treasurer of the Board has custody of all monies received, makes all expenditures upon authentication, exercises revenue bonding authority with the approval of the Board, and prepares the annual UMS financial report. The Clerk of the Board manages Board affairs and records all proceedings.
The Presidents and Law Dean serve as the chief administrative and educational officers of their universities, with responsibility for day-to-day operations and development of the academic program within the limits defined by the Board and the Chancellor. Presidents are responsible for five major areas of campus governance: academics, research, finances, infrastructure, and public service/community engagement. (Following a multi-stage service centralization process, UMS is responsible for environmental safety, human resources, facilities maintenance, IT, risk management, procurement, and travel.)
Per Board policy, the Chancellor conducts an annual review of each President. Comprehensive reviews are conducted in the third year of a President’s initial term and every fourth year thereafter. The Chancellor reports the outcome of each review to the Board.
Four Vice Chancellors, all reporting to the Chancellor, oversee primary UMS academic and administrative operations in academic affairs, finance, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives. The current Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives is also UMS Chief Legal Officer and the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff.
The Chief Academic Officers Council (CAOC) comprises the six university Provosts, the Law School’s Vice Dean, the University of Maine at Machias’s (UMM) Dean and Director, and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAA) and his staff. The group works collaboratively to formulate academic procedures and manage the UMS academic portfolio.
At UMFK and UMPI, the President also serves as CAO. At four other UMS universities, the CAO is a separate executive leadership position reporting to the President. Under a new UM-UMM organizational chart approved by the Board in March 2022, the UMM Dean and Director reports to the UM Provost.
The CAOC reviews and maintains policies and procedures for admission, retention, and completion of programs as a part of the program development process, and ensures consistent application across UMS. With input from the CAOC, the VCAA decides on proposed substantive changes to existing academic programs and makes recommendations to the Chancellor on program approval, suspension, and elimination. The Chancellor in turn advances the VCAA’s recommendations to the Board for final action.
The universities and Law School manage their budgets individually. The needs and aspirations of each are represented in annual budgeting processes, one-time allocation decisions, and short- and long-term fiscal planning. Tuition revenue, state appropriation, research dollars, and other sources of revenue are carefully managed in support of each university’s teaching, research, and service mission.
Each university has an organizational structure, decision-making processes, and policies that reflect its mission and support institutional effectiveness. Each has a published mission statement approved by the Board. UMS and its universities adhere to published statements on shared governance. An example of faculty shared governance is the review of proposals for the creation, elimination, and reorganization of academic programs, a process followed by each university’s faculty senate or faculty assembly.
UMS has six collective bargaining units. Full-time faculty are represented by the Associated. Faculties of the University of Maine System (AFUM/MEA); part-time and adjunct faculty are represented by the Maine Part-time Faculty Association (AFT-Maine, AFL-CIO); professional staff are represented by the University of Maine Professional Association (UMPSA/MEA); classified staff are represented by the University of Maine Clerical, Office, Laboratory and Technical Unit (C.O.L.T./ACSUM/MEA); University of Maine clerical and physical facilities staff are represented by the Teamsters; and university police bargain as the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #100. All contracts are renegotiated on a two-year cycle and negotiations with all these entities are conducted at the UMS level.
Unified accreditation language and internal management of NECHE activity
In September 2021, following several months of discussion internally and with NECHE staff, the UMS Presidents’ Council adopted 1) language describing the NECHE accreditation of UMS, its universities, and the Law School, and 2) a process for the internal management of NECHE visits, reports, and correspondence. The latter was applied successfully last fall to a UMF substantive change proposal, and to a report and site visit addressing UMA’s prison education programs.
Multi-university academic programs and the Cooperating Departments provision
The AFUM collective bargaining agreement includes a provision on Cooperating Departments. The provision states the terms and conditions in which faculty at two or more UMS universities can cooperate to teach courses in each other’s programs.
Some faculty have expressed concern that UMS has not engaged with this provision adequately, and purport that UMS seeks instead to offer a degree program or programs taught at multiple universities and awarded by UMS. UMS has responded to this concern in prior correspondence with the Commission.
Composition of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees
Faculty and staff have no vote on the Board and are not included in Board executive sessions. A voting student trustee appointed for a two-year term participates in executive sessions. Legislation proposed in 2020 to expand the Board to include faculty and staff as appointed and voting trustees was not successful. A similar proposal in 2022 was also unsuccessful.
Post-unified accreditation staffing changes
In August 2020, UMS hired an Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, followed by an Associate Vice Chancellor for Accreditation and Strategic Initiatives that December. These are new positions, as are the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (the incumbent is also the President of the University of Maine) and the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Legal Officer, both announced by the Chancellor in March 2021. In keeping with UMS’s commitment to maximize existing resources under unified accreditation, the four positions were filled by personnel internal to UMS and its universities.
Some faculty expressed concern in 2020 when the then-Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAA) was appointed to the permanent position without a search or faculty input, and in 2021 when the Chancellor announced a rewriting of the position description for that role to better align with the incumbent VCAA’s skills. In the latter instance, the concern was that the VCAA did not meet the previous position criteria. In correspondence with NECHE, UMS has responded to concerns about the four positions voiced by the current AFUM President.
Under state law, UMS faculty enjoy traditional academic freedoms in teaching, research, and expression of opinions, and faculty are to be consulted in the formulation of academic policies. The Statement on Shared Governance approved by the Board in 2007 affirms the Board’s support of governance systems and processes characterized by collaboration among the Board, administration, faculty, staff, and students in communication and decision-making. The statement also sets forth the Board’s commitment to fostering an atmosphere of trust, communication, and participation through an approach to governance whereby the talents and collective intelligence of the UMS community are used to make effective and efficient decisions.
All UMS universities have faculty and student senates or assemblies—and in some cases, professional and classified staff senates or assemblies— that engage in university-level shared governance.
Establishment and progress of the UMS Faculty Governance Council
To foster a unifying System-wide mechanism for shared governance for academic collaborations and programs involving two or more UMS universities, the Chancellor invited university faculty senate and assembly leaders to meet with him and members of his senior staff in January 2020. At that meeting, the faculty leaders agreed that during the nascent stages of a unified approach to shared governance, the seven senate/ assembly presidents, with the VCAA participating ex officio, would form a UMS Faculty Governance Council (Council) to address multi-university academic and curricular policy and programming.
The Council serves as an instrument for exercising faculty purview over multi-university programs and related academic initiatives, ensuring that UMS meets NECHE expectations that faculty have primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum, and a substantive voice in matters of educational programs, faculty personnel, and other aspects of institutional policy relating to their areas of responsibility and expertise.
As of spring 2022, the Council is confirming its alignment with individual university faculty governance bodies— assemblies and senates— and with existing frameworks and contractual language offered by AFUM for Cooperating Departments (see above). The Council is also working with faculty and university and UMS leadership to refine its own comprehensive structure as well as policies and practices buttressing shared internal academic governance and offering a platform for equal representation of all universities and their stakeholders.
One issue UMS shared with the Council and sought its input on is the development of a governance structure to accompany the implementation of the new UMS learning management system (LMS), Brightspace. UMS fully migrated from its prior LMS to Brightspace in fall 2020 following summer 2020 pilots.
The Faculty Governance Council is responsible for attentiveness to issues relevant to multi- university programs, defined as those involving two or more universities collaborating to develop, deliver, and maintain a single program: degree, certificate, or other credential. The Council will offer an appropriate framework of ensuring consistent oversight of sustainable multi-institutional programming proposals aligned with UMS strategic initiatives under unified accreditation.
As noted in the spring 2021 NECHE evaluation team’s report to the Commission, the Council has grappled with defining its role (as consultative or advisory rather than as a decision-making body). It has also wrestled with how best to work alongside existing university-level governance structures and serve as a resource for communication and coordination with UMS leadership while not superseding university structures. Two additional challenges have been 1) designing a workflow allowing for more interaction with university faculty without compromising nimbleness; and 2) managing the growing pains of an expanded group and the general resistance that occurs during a change process.
The Council has met regularly since September 2020 to address these issues, and continues to participate in UMS-led unified accreditation efforts. The Council has reached positive outcomes in several areas, including:
- drafting a charter and determining the composition of its membership
- optimal size of the Council
- representation from stakeholder groups (e.g. AFUM)
- development of an internal leadership structure, including a co-chair model
- inclusion in the charter of an evaluation clause outlining how and when the Council will review, and possibly revise, it.
The Council continues to pursue final resolution on its charter. Six of the seven university faculty bodies and the Law School faculty body have approved it.
The evaluation clause and its attendant review mechanism are important. The review will help the Council assess whether the Council has been effective in fulfilling its intended purpose, and whether its structure and functions, as defined in its charter, have supported or undermined the universities’ respective missions.
The Council has been directly engaged in a number of UMS initiatives. It has helped place faculty representatives on the Unified Catalog project management team and on the two self study data teams (Data First and E Series). The Council met with the previous NECHE evaluation team in May 2021, and took part in Chancellor Malloy’s comprehensive review in March 2022. The Council has also reviewed plans and proposals tied to four System- wide initiatives: the UMS librarians’ strategic plan (in 2021); UMS learning management system governance structure proposals (in 2020-21); UMS course (coding) component data standards proposals (ongoing); and a review of UMS Academic Practice Letters (APLs) led by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (ongoing).
Some faculty view the role of the Council as unclear, with concerns that it not supersede university faculty senates and assemblies. A charter revision has been developed and shared with the Council that addresses these concerns. A related faculty concern is that distinctions between the Council and university-level shared governance should be more fully articulated, and that department/program and university-level faculty governance of academic matters must be respected.
University governance concerns
Notwithstanding policies that articulate faculty responsibility for academic programs, some faculty contend that recent UMS initiatives to share or merge programs across universities, including the unique partnership between UMM and UM have, in practice, blurred the lines of responsibility for programs and faculty. (Since 2017, UMM has been a regional campus of UM and shares its administrative personnel.) For example, the merger of faculty from more than one UMS university into a single program or unit has raised questions about criteria for appointment to the graduate faculty of each university, promotion and tenure criteria, and related matters.
Update on the Maine Business School
In 2018, UM and UMS reorganized the UM Business School (MBS) as the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the Undergraduate School of Business. The GSB will house planned future graduate programs in business for UMS universities. GSB faculty include UMaine faculty with graduate appointments, and USM faculty with graduate appointments in the MBS. The GSB offers an online UM MBA led by a Dean based in Portland who reports to the UM Provost.
Per the agreement between UMS and the Harold Alfond Foundation, which provided critical support for the development of the multi-university MBS, the only UMS MBA to be offered is the UM MBA; the face-to-face USM MBA is no longer delivered. Some faculty view this as a reduction of choice for students, and have expressed concerns about resource waste and the possible influence of donors on curricular and programmatic matters. UMS has responded to these and related concerns about the MBS voiced by the current AFUM President and others in pre-unified accreditation reporting (see the 2019 UM-UMM self study, pp. 20 and 65-66) and in more recent correspondence with the Commission.
MBS governance concerns have also been addressed in part by UM and USM graduate faculty’s December 2018 adoption in principle of a governance document for the GSB. The document reflects substantive faculty engagement in establishing a) a process and criteria for appointment and reappointment; b) participation, including voting, in matters of GSB curriculum and governance, meetings, rules of order, quorum, and agenda setting; and c) committees. The committee structures establish faculty governance roles in the coordination and delivery of business programs; budget management, course scheduling, faculty teaching assignments, and matters of accreditation; and curriculum, including assurance of “a well-documented and systematic process for determining, revising, and assessing degree program learning goals.”
The MBS and its GSB have added a new major in sport management in the BSBA program and receiving approvals for two new concentrations for learners in the Maine MBA. Led by faculty, MBS has developed DEI programming that includes film screenings and discussions alongside training for faculty and staff.
The MBS and its GSB obtained unit accreditation with AACSB after NECHE granted unified accreditation to UMS in 2020. This step means the MBS and its GSB are the unit of focus for AACSB accreditation. As support from the Harold Alfond Foundation ends in fiscal year 2022, UM has budgeted the $1.2 million needed for two faculty lines, a GSB Dean’s position, adjunct salaries, and an administrative assistant for fiscal year 2023. The MBS has contributed $50,000 toward technology in a classroom to enhance connectivity between the new home for the GSB in 2023 (in Portland) and the UM MBS home in Orono.
Enrollment in both the BSBA and MBA programs is strong, with 1,687 (unduplicated) for fall 2021 and expectations for 1,500+ for fall 2022. Working with a marketing firm, MBS and GSB leadership have invested in developing a combined value proposition. Available in Orono, Portland, and online, the MBS and GSB is comprehensive and competitive.
The Unified Catalog initiative
As described in the April 2021 UMS progress report to NECHE on unified accreditation:
[E]ach UMS university’s academic programs and courses are currently housed in separate, university-specific “instances” in our “MaineStreet” (PeopleSoft) academic catalog[ue], with limited functional capacity for interaction. As a consequence, there is presently no way for data about courses, credit transfer, registration, billing, and related functions to be shared easily between or among UMS universities via MaineStreet. What should be a seamless academic experience supported by an efficient, behind-the-scenes flow of information available to students and faculty across UMS institutional boundaries is instead frequently frustrating for students, faculty, professional advisors, and academic and student support staff (p. 6).
In response to that challenge, the Unified Catalog initiative seeks to remove barriers and increase opportunities for students, faculty, and staff by expanding access to courses and schedules offered across our universities while ensuring that we indicate how— and which— courses align with a student’s academic program. This is true for students taking a single course at one university to fill an elective or gap in their program at their home university, and for students enrolled in a collaboratively delivered multi-university course or program.
Specific goals include:
- Making links to the Schedules of Classes of all of our universities and the University of Maine School of Law visible and searchable in a single place within a student’s MaineStreet portal for all students at all of our universities and the Law School.
- Making links to the Academic Catalog[ue]s of all of our universities and the University of Maine School of Law available to all students in a single place within a student’s MaineStreet portal.
- Working with faculty, registrars, financial aid directors, professional advisors and others to align technical and procedural elements of academic policy and practice (where appropriate) to eliminate obstacles and foster conditions for success for students, faculty, and staff.
- Supporting the development and delivery of high-quality multi-university academic programs, collaborative courses, and related academic pathways and partnerships.
- Improving transfer, retention, time-to-degree, and related student success indicators through achievement of the goals outlined above.
This work is led by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Accreditation and Strategic Initiatives and a project team of administrative and professional staff from all of our universities, and includes representatives identified through the UMS Faculty Governance Council. Work is underway in earnest on goal #3 above. As of May 2022, faculty across UMS are reviewing three initial areas of proposed changes to policy and practice: 1) an alignment and format change for an academic form; 2) alignment of facets of transfer activity; and 3) alignment of the undergraduate residency requirement across UMS — in a draft process and timeline document describing how and when that work will be done. Some faculty have expressed distrust over the creation and future uses of such a catalogue. Others have embraced the concept. (Note: the Unified Catalog effort will not result in a single System-wide catalogue. Each university will retain its own catalogue. The exception is the development of a single catalogue for UM and its regional campus, UMM. That project predates the Unified Catalog work and is not connected to it.)
Faculty concerns about communication and shared governance
Some faculty have reported concerns about delays in information-sharing, lack of information, or short deadlines for feedback on UMS policies and initiatives. Faculty Senates have, on occasion, requested improved communications from the UMS administration and/or passed resolutions regarding faculty control over curricula and Board policy. UMS has responded in detail to concerns shared with NECHE by the current AFUM President about communication in relation to the June 2020 UMS substantive change request for UMS accreditation.
As noted above, in coordination with NECHE staff, UMS developed a protocol for managing site visits, reports, and correspondence with the Commission in September 2021. The protocol reflects UMS’s Guiding Principles for Unified Accreditation and was endorsed by the UMS Presidents Council. It will ensure Presidents are directly engaged in NECHE business relevant to their universities, that the UMS NECHE accreditation liaison officer supports university accreditation officers in annual reporting and related reporting (e.g. substantive changes), and that communication between and among UMS, its universities, its Law School, and NECHE is clear and consistent.
UMS’s commitment to transparency about unified accreditation, System-wide strategic planning, and ongoing strategic initiatives continues to be reflected in our practices and communication. Chancellor Malloy visits every UMS university and the Law School at least once each semester (fall and spring), and communicates periodically with the entire UMS community via email and other messaging. He also shares a weekly update with the Board, and those messages are posted publicly on the UMS site. Pages on the UMS website focused on unified accreditation and the Unified Catalog initiative are updated monthly. Other initiatives with dedicated pages include UMS strategic planning and UMS TRANSFORMS.
UMS anticipates continued progress in implementing effective shared governance structures, including the UMS Faculty Governance Council, and corresponding progress in other areas. For example, the Law School’s Faculty Personnel Policies governance document is under active review as of spring 2022, and as noted above, the Faculty Governance Council continues to work out its policies and processes.
Data and tables for Standard Three: Organization and Governance are available in the campus Data First Forms linked below.
- Data First Form for University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias (Excel Spreadsheet)
- Data First Form for University of Maine at Augusta (Excel Spreadsheet)
- Data First Form for University of Maine at Farmington (Excel Spreadsheet)
- Data First Form for University of Maine at Fort Kent (Excel Spreadsheet)
- Data First Form for University of Maine at Presque Isle (Excel Spreadsheet)
- Data First Form for University of Southern Maine (Excel Spreadsheet)