University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy will remain in his position for another year.

Chancellor Dannel P. Malloy Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The UMaine System Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to extend Malloy’s contract despite months of severe criticism he has received from faculty, students and legislators.  

Chairwoman Trish Riley said the board considered the concerns of faculty and others, but she also said the system needs continuity and stability as it navigates declining enrollment in higher education and an uncertain economic future, among other things.

Riley said the board “weighed the chancellor’s serious missteps and lack of effective communication and engagement against his considerable accomplishments” including securing significant private donations, moving forward with unified accreditation and making investments in updating campus infrastructure.

“The year will give the chancellor an opportunity to rebuild trust, increase transparency and sustain the momentum of needed change he has begun,” Riley said.

Just a few months ago it seemed largely inevitable that Malloy, who has led the UMaine System since 2019, would receive a new contract from the board of trustees and remain at the system’s helm. But Malloy’s future with the state’s universities became murkier in the wake of a botched presidential search at the Augusta campus that triggered faculty at three of the system’s seven campuses to vote that they had no confidence in his leadership and faculty at the other four campuses to issue letters in support of those no-confidence votes. Malloy’s three-year contract was originally set to expire June 30, but following the tumult, the board of trustees extended it until July 11, giving them more time to make an official decision on his fate.  


Though Malloy survived the fight with faculty and others over renewing his contract, the single-year deal is a significant rebuke of his actions. His last contract was for three years and UMaine system administrators almost always sign contracts for multiple years. Incoming University of Southern Maine President Jacqueline Edmondson signed a three-year contract with the system.

Additionally, Malloy agreed to forgo his 2022 bonus and raise and will be paid $382,500 for the year based on 3 percent “quality of life” annual increases on his previous three-year, $350,000 contract.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, faculty had said that if the board extended Malloy’s contract further discontent with system leadership from faculty was likely inevitable. “It is a rare phenomenon to have all seven universities aligned in this way,” said Shelton Waldrep, an English professor and chair of the University of Southern Maine Faculty Senate. “If the board persists to retain him, I fear anger will shift to the board and away from Malloy. It would be a mistake to keep Malloy given the unified response from the schools.”

Following the announcement of his extension, faculty said they felt their concerns about Malloy had been ignored.

“I am disappointed that the board didn’t listen to the dozens and dozens of students and faculty who made their feelings known over the last two months,” said Lorien Lake-Corral, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maine Augusta. “I hope the board and the chancellor plan to change their MOs (mode of operation) as we move forward.”

In an interview after the meeting, Riley said that she had anticipated faculty would be frustrated with the board’s decision, but that she thinks the board’s decision to extend Malloy’s contract for only one year shows the board took faculty, student, staff and legislator concerns seriously.


The board has high expectations for Malloy in the year to come, she said. The contract stipulates that Malloy work with an executive training coach and “expand his communication with the board and ensure effective ‘no surprises’ communication.”

Malloy said he plans to go back to the drawing board with his communication strategy and is considering using an office hours format to further engage with faculty, staff and students.

Faculty have long expressed frustration with Malloy and the way he has run the system. But it was the significant fumble in the search for a new president to lead Augusta’s campus that sparked the consistent objections to his leadership that have been lobbed at him over the past few months.


The search resulted in the hiring of a candidate who had received multiple votes of no confidence at his prior institution, information that Malloy was privy to prior to the hiring and failed to share with the full search committee. Ultimately the candidate, Michael Laliberte, withdrew from the role, but the system agreed to pay him up to $705,000 over the next three years, a decision which has come under withering criticism from faculty and others as the system struggles to balance its budget. 

Other concerns from faculty about Malloy include his plans for the system and his leadership and communication style.  

Faculty have questioned Malloy’s consolidation of the system’s seven universities through unified accreditation, which transfers certain powers of governance and oversight from individual schools and to the system. System leadership has promoted unified accreditation as a way to cut management costs and open the door to greater collaboration between schools. But faculty worry the consolidation promoted in unified accreditation is mostly code for cutting programs and faculty positions and stripping universities of their autonomy. Faculty also have said they feel Malloy is condescending and does not take faculty input seriously. 

Malloy has said he was determined to continue leading the system despite criticism from staff and others, something that is consistent with his reputation as a controversial executive.

He has a reputation for being confrontational and bristly, and has in the past said popularity and effectiveness were not compatible. Prior to leading the Maine university system, Malloy had a rocky tenure as the governor of Connecticut. At times, he was the least popular governor in the country. A few months before Malloy left the governor’s seat in 2019, his approval rate dipped below 15 percent.

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