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Incoming UMA president voluntarily withdraws from contract

The incoming University of Maine at Augusta president has withdrawn his application amid growing controversy over his hiring process.

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Maine System Board of Trustees announced Sunday in a news release that they will accept the voluntary withdrawal of incoming president of the University of Maine at Augusta. 

The withdrawal was formally accepted by UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy and Sven Bartholomew, the UMA presidential search committee chair. 

Michael Laliberte, who was hired to serve as the next president for UMA, will be paid the first year of compensation that he would have earned in the role and may be paid additional compensation in the second and third years if he seeks but is unable to find employment at "the same or greater salary than he would have earned," the release states. 

"This has been a difficult process for all involved, and although we believe that Dr. Laliberte has the skills, talent, and integrity to lead UMA, we have decided that it is best to listen to and support the UMA faculty senate in their desire to revisit the search for the next UMA president," a joint statement issued Sunday by Laliberte, Malloy, and Bartholomew states. 

The withdrawal stems from a controversial selection process in which Malloy failed to disclose to the search committee that Laliberte previously received a vote of no confidence at a previous job. Laliberte stepped down as president of State University of New York at Delhi in April after students and faculty took votes of no confidence in his leadership. 

Malloy said his decision not to disclose this information with the search committee was made because the allegations that led to the vote were "baseless." However, Malloy has since faced his own votes of no confidence among UMS leaders after he failed to disclose this information, and he has issued a formal apology

As of Friday, May 20, four universities within UMS issued votes of no confidence in Malloy. 

A new national search for president at UMA will begin immediately. 

"We commit to a search process that is inclusive and transparent," Malloy and UMS Board of Trustees Chair Mark Gardner said a statement. "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." 

Joe Szakas has agreed to serve as interim president of UMA through June 30, 2023, allowing the UMS team to conduct a "comprehensive and robust" search for the nest appointment. The approval of Szakas' extension will be decided by the board during their July meeting. 

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