There are growing no-confidence votes in the University of Maine system, where management has hidden information about Michael Lalibert in a search that led to his inauguration as the next president of the University of Maine in August. Now Daniel Maloy, the chancellor who is guilty of violating transparency, promises to promptly review search policies and procedures.
Lalibert himself was the subject two votes of no confidence during his presidency at New York State University in Delhi, where professors expressed concern about his leadership style.
Sven Bartholomew’s minor and trustee, both members of the search committee that hired Lalibert last month, knew about the no-confidence vote and decided not to share that information with the rest of the board. Now the faculty senate on the Augusta campus has expressed distrust of both the search he wants to start anew and the chancellor’s leadership. The vote in Augusta sparked a similar move against Melo at the University of Southern Maine, where the faculty senate also voted no confidence in his leadership.
Since then, Small has promised to “restore confidence” in his leadership after the fall of Lalibert. And while mistakes in the presidential search have sparked a no-confidence vote, teachers note that their problems with Mello’s leadership go far beyond a single incident.
Three votes and a meeting
In recent days, three no-confidence votes have been expressed under the University of Maine system. The first two came from the Senate faculty of the University of Maine in August on May 11th. One declared the UMA presidential search a failure and demanded that it be conducted again.
“The inaction of the Chancellor and a member of the Board of Trustees has jeopardized the integrity of the search and damaged the reputation of the UMA and the University of Maine system,” he said. Resolution of the Faculty Senate which was reportedly approved by an overwhelming majority.
Others in the system share these sentiments, arguing that the search was unsuccessful due to a lack of transparency, which is said to hurt the new president on the Augusta campus.
“They essentially invalidated the search and handcuffed this new president before he starts, because of the decision of a trustee who was the chairman of the committee and then Mel’s decision to make sure that [search] the committee has never dealt with these no-confidence votes, ”said James McClimer, president of the Associate Faculties of the University of Maine and professor on the main campus of the University of Maine at Arona. Inside the Supreme Ed.
The second vote of no confidence in the UMA is more terrible. He accuses Melloy of focusing more on defending his reputation amid the defeat of the search than on the integrity of the process itself. He accuses Mello of depriving individual universities of their autonomy in an attempt to centralize leadership in the seven universities of the Maine system and undermine the institution by diverting attention and resources from its mission of higher education.
In addition to these no-confidence votes, students at the University of Maine in Farmington occupied the administrative building in 24-hour sitting last week to protest the elimination of a system of nine faculty positions. Some UMF students also demanded that Mello resign.
This was followed by a third no-confidence vote, this one at the University of South Maine, raising some of the same issues and focusing on the alleged failure of Mello’s leadership. But the USM document with a statement of the reasons because the vote of no confidence goes beyond these, accusing it of allowing charities to dictate the curriculum, evading teacher involvement, making unreasonable investments, ignoring work agreements and smearing through the unusual the only model of accreditation in which all seven campuses are accredited together rather than separately.
The heads of the faculties of the University of Southern Maine said that the vote was given in solidarity.
“We felt we needed to respond to what happened in Farmington and in August,” said Shelton Waldrep, an English professor and chairman of the USM faculty senate. “We could have gone the other way – we could have just responded to these two actions, said nothing about the chancellor, but it was clear from the Senate conversation that the senators were worried and felt they needed to take a very firm stand. , not only in terms of what happened in Farmington and August, but also in terms of system leadership. ”
In an email to Inside the Supreme EdMello admitted that it was a mistake not to reveal previous votes of no confidence in Laliberta during the search.
Melloy added that Storbeck Search, which facilitated the search, advised him and Bartholomew not to discuss a no-confidence vote with a broad committee – advice he said he should not have taken and a mistake he claimed.
Later, Maloy said that presidential candidates and vice-rectors would have to provide information on whether they had been given a vote of no confidence. In addition to these changes, the system “is working as soon as possible to revise our recruitment and personnel policy,” Melloy wrote.
Melloy said the system will also “conduct an immediate review of all UMS policies applicable to job searches and, within 30 days, make recommendations on whether policy changes should be made to ensure that UMS applies and adheres to best practices regarding search. work and that all relevant information about job applicants is available for careful consideration by those responsible for screening candidates and making recommendations to the recruitment manager or UMS body ”.
Small also noted that he continues to have “constructive talks on how to improve our universities and prepare them for better collaboration to meet the challenges in higher education today. I am committed to the work that needs to be done, and I believe that the leaders and professors of our universities will move forward with me in this endeavor. ”
Some teachers believe that conversations with Malloy were never constructive. They accuse Melloy, a former Connecticut governor of the Democratic Party who lacked experience in higher education before heading the University of Maine system, of working with a lack of communication, transparency and respect for general governance. They characterize him as a largely contemptuous expression of distrust in his public statements.
“Basically, he continued his methodology of humiliating those who expressed concern,” McClimer said. “He is, in fact, rethinking their issues and problems because they need the confidence that they are worried. This is a common theme – if you have any questions or concerns, you are just afraid of change and worried; you don’t understand. And this avoids legitimate discussion. “
So how will Maloy build trust with teachers who have voted him two votes of no confidence?
“One day. Listening, promoting communication and transparency, demonstrating our commitment to the university system and the students we serve, ”wrote Maloy. Inside the Supreme Ed. “Changing the way our universities work together is not an easy task, but I believe that our shared values and commitment to public higher education provide us with a foundation that we need to make sure the University of Maine and our seven universities and law schools continue to provide ways to success “.
Experts from outside the University of Maine system point out the same thing as critics inside – a glaring lack of transparency in search, which has ultimately created unnecessary problems. They believe that concealing information from a broad search commission was a mistake.
“I would always encourage them to share with the search committee,” said Sally Mason, senior consultant and senior researcher at AGB Consulting. “The information is there. And what you really need to do is try to check how accurate the information you are getting is. And the only way to do that is to be open and transparent and ask questions. ”
Armand Alakbey, vice president of trustees and government of the American Board of Trustees and Alumni, suggested a similar view of the importance of transparency.
“Not only the search commission should know all the materials about the candidates, but also the full board should know. Because it is still the responsibility of the council for hiring, regardless of how they delegate authority, ”Alakbay said. “You can delegate authority, but you can’t delegate responsibility. So, I would say that a mistake on the side of transparency is a best practice. “
But did a vote of no confidence in the former institution worsen Lalibert’s chances? Probably not, experts say, noting that the search commission should consider the context of such votes.
“There are many possible reasons for the vote of no confidence, but not all of them disqualify,” Alakbay said. “It needed to be revealed because you want there to be as much transparency as possible; you want to have access to all the materials. A vote of no confidence is important information, but not necessarily dispositive. “
And now that Maloy is working to win the trust of teachers who handed him two no-confidence votes, Lalibert, who is expected to begin in August, must also win over skeptical teachers who declared a search that declared him invalid.
Laliberte will start at a disadvantage, but his confidence to win, experts say.
“If I were in this position, I would immediately start sitting with general management groups, particularly teachers, talking to them and answering their questions as honestly as possible, trying to build relationships and build trust,” Mason said. . “But it will take a lot of work and a lot of communication from the president.”