If there were any question about the failure of the University of Maine at Augusta’s presidential search, University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy’s apology and expression of concern provide the answer. He promises that, in future, search policies will “require a declaration from candidates as to whether they have ever been the subject of a no-confidence vote.” The disturbing fact of prior no-confidence votes, withheld from search committee members, who had the responsibility of making a major decision, is only a symptom of far greater problems.

Universities have two fundamental purposes: to discover, create and understand knowledge and culture, and to transmit knowledge and culture to students through shared research and creativity. Universities do not exist to enhance administrative careers or limit what can be known or enforce such limitations. Effective administrators and staff work with and support the meaning of a university through shared government, transparency and mutual trust.

The UMaine System’s increasing centralization, absent genuine shared government, led to this failed search, lack of understanding of individual campus needs, loss of trust and – even more damaging – the destructive decisions accurately cited by the UMA Faculty Senate, and now the astonishing idea that if students live in or near Farmington, they need not know anything about religion, philosophy or gender, or understand any other language. Who decided on such discriminatory and unjust limits?

Maine and future Maine citizens deserve access to genuine education. Chancellor Malloy needs to address the real problem: the future of “the core mission of education for the people of Maine.”

Nancy K. Gish
professor emerita, English and women’s and gender studies, University of Southern Maine

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