Dear Commons Community,
The University of Maine System last Thursday selected former Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as its next leader. The 63-year-old Democrat will oversee seven campuses and 30,000 students when he takes over as chancellor on July 1.
A lawyer and former mayor of Stamford, Malloy has never run a university. He transitioned into higher education this spring as a visiting professor at Boston College School of Law. As reported in the Hartford Courant:
“Education is a calling,” said Malloy at a press conference Thursday morning on the flagship University of Maine campus in Orono after the system’s trustees voted unanimously to appoint him. “[It’s] one of few areas of life, fields of endeavor, allowing you to make transitional, transformational change,” for families for years to come, he said.
Malloy inherits a system struggling with enrollment challenges and a budget shortfall of $3 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2020.
“He’ll face some of the challenges we all face: declining enrollment, state funding challenges and the question of how to continue providing the best high quality and most accessible higher education to the students we collectively serve,” said Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system and Malloy’s close friend.
To offset enrollment dips driven by demographics, the University of Maine has been offering top-performing students from Connecticut and other states steep tuition discounts. The strategy has paid off by drawing a record number of out-of-state students to Orono, helping to stabilize enrollment.
“They’re losing young people,” said University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst. “That’s our problem, too, but they’re losing them at a faster clip. Gov. Malloy has thought a lot about what keeps young people in state and how universities can be cultural and economic centers.”
During his eight years as governor, Malloy was a reliable supporter of UConn. For instance, he helped engineer a deal early in his first term that brought The Jackson Laboratory, a biomedical research facility, to the university’s Farmington campus, with the enticement of a $291 million state grant. However, he also initiated and oversaw the beginning of a controversial consolidation/merger of the Connecticut’s state’s 12 community colleges into one institution, the Community College of Connecticut.
His tenure at Maine will be closely watched. We wish him the best of luck!