March 11, 2010

Former chancellor picked for top civilian Army post

DIETER BRADBURY

— By

Staff Photo by John Patriquin, Friday, March 26, 2004: UMaine chancellor Joseph Westphal.

Political Correspondent

Joseph Westphal, a former University of Maine System chancellor whose tenure was marked by controversy over a proposed campus consolidation plan, has been nominated for a top Army post.

President Obama named Westphal, currently a political science professor at UMaine, on Tuesday as his choice to serve as Army under secretary, the service's second-ranked civilian official.

Westphal would report to John McHugh, the Republican congressman from New York who has been nominated as the next Army secretary. Both nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both R-Maine, said Wednesday that they have worked with Westphal and issued statements praising his selection.

''I have the most profound admiration and respect for Joe Westphal and can think of no person better qualified to fulfill this critical role,'' Snowe said.

Collins, a member of the Armed Services Committee, described Westphal as a ''strong choice.''

Westphal, 61, was assistant secretary of the Army for civil works from 1998-2001 and held the top post as Army secretary on an acting basis in the summer of 2001.

Trustees at UMaine hired him as chancellor in 2002. His chief task as the university system's top administrator was to address challenges to the system's $300 million budget.

With Westphal at the helm, trustees proposed a structural overhaul in 2005 that included the mergers of four of the seven campuses, as well as other major program changes. The consolidation came under fire from critics in the Legislature and the university system, who complained that Westphal and the board had failed to involve them in the planning process.

The overhaul was dropped and Westphal resigned in 2006. He took a year's sabbatical and returned to the Orono campus under a three-year teaching contract.

During his sabbatical, he worked for the Department of the Interior on water development issues and as an analyst for the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Westphal was a member of Obama's presidential transition team, working on defense matters.

Political Correspondent Dieter Bradbury can be contacted at 791-6329 or at:

dbradbury@pressherald.com

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