Newly named UMA president agrees to deal to withdraw from position

Officials with the University of Maine System announced Sunday that Michael R. Laliberte, the recently named president of the University of Maine at Augusta, has voluntarily withdrawn from the position. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

PORTLAND — Michael R. Laliberte, who was hired recently as president of the University of Maine at Augusta, has withdrawn from the position, according to officials.

The news was announced Sunday afternoon, following a meeting of the University of Maine System board of trustees.

Board Chair Mark Gardiner announced Laliberte’s decision, which was also revealed to the public at 5 p.m., about an hour before the meeting came to a close.

Two statements were released — one by the University of Maine System and another as a joint statement from Laliberte; Dannel P. Malloy, chancellor of the UMaine System; and Sven Bartholomew, a UMaine System trustee and head of the UMA Presidential Search Committee.

The three men reiterated that the entire UMA Presidential Search Committee should have known about Laliberte’s two votes of no confidence from his former university, the State University of New York at Delhi.

“This was a mistake and understandably caused a deep mistrust of the search process within the UMA Community,” their statement read.

Earlier on Sunday, the Kennebec Journal reported on the University of Southern Maine’s and the University of Maine at Farmington’s apparent mistrust in Malloy, mainly shown through votes of no confidence that cited the UMA Presidential Search Committee as the main reason for the votes.

News of Laliberte’s withdrawal likely came to the UMaine System trustees during a two-hour executive session Sunday. An executive session is a portion of the meeting that is private and the discussion confidential.

The UMaine System’s statement included an announcement that UMA interim President Joseph Szakas is to remain president for another year, until a formal search committee is in place. The UMaine System plans to use a search firm other than Storbeck Search, which it used to identify and hire Laliberte.

“We commit to a search process that is inclusive and transparent,” the system’s statement read. “It is critical that members of the University of Maine at Augusta and UMS communities have confidence in the integrity of the search process, and in the shared governance that must be the foundation of a successful search.”

Michael R. Laliberte, left, who was to become the president of the University of Maine at Augusta, shakes hands April 7 with Dannel P. Malloy, chancellor of the University of Maine System, after being introduced at Randall Hall at the UMA campus. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Laliberte is to be paid a $205,000 salary through what would have been his first year at UMA, and if he is unable to find employment two to three years later, the length of his contract and additional compensation might be considered, according to UMaine System officials.

“Any earnings he has during that time will be offset against the UMA presidential compensation,” the statement read. “System reserves will fund the payments to Dr. Laliberte.”

Gardiner said at Sunday’s trustee meeting that while the UMA presidential search gained “a lot of press,” it was for “reasons, all important.”

“I want everyone to understand, as a board, we take this very seriously, and there are things we could have done differently,” Gardiner said Sunday at the meeting. “But everyone has learned from this, and we are in a place to move forward.”

The UMaine System board of trustees meeting was held at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus, and is expected to continue at 8 a.m. Monday.


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