UM chancellor to resign

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PORTLAND (AP) – University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph Westphal announced Wednesday that he will resign his post on June 30 and become a full-time professor.

Westphal has been at the helm of the university system for four years, a tenure that included a controversial reorganization of the state’s seven-campus system that drew fire from faculty, students and legislators.

Westphal, 58, will teach throughout the university system but primarily at the University of Maine’s flagship campus in Orono, where he serves as a tenured political science professor. He also intends to conduct research with a focus on environmental and educational policy, national security and democratic institutions.

“After many years of leading large and complex organizations, I want to use my energy in new ways to contribute to this university system and Maine,” Westphal said.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees will appoint an interim chancellor and launch a national search for a permanent successor.

The search could take up to a year, said John Diamond, university system spokesman.

Westphal, a former Pentagon official, rankled university system employees and others during the restructuring of the university system two years ago.

Critics contended he crafted the plan without seeking the opinions of others.

Faculty at the University of Maine at Machias approved a no-confidence resolution targeting Westphal and the entire University of Maine System Board of Trustees. A proposal to fold the University of Maine at Augusta into the University of Southern Maine was eventually scuttled after being met with public outcry and political pressure.

“We’ve had a rocky relationship with the chancellor, but we wish him well and we look forward to a better working relationship with the board of trustees and the system leadership,” said Ronald Mosley, a professor at the Machias campus and president of the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine.

Charles Johnson III of Hallowell, chairman of the board of trustees, said Westphal has been a “strong and visionary leader.”

“He arrived at a time when the system was under great stress because of declining state and federal funds for higher education,” Johnson said. “The board asked him to play the role of change agent, and he has done so very ably. The state owes the chancellor a debt of gratitude for all that he has taken on.”

Before coming to Maine, Westphal taught for 12 years at Oklahoma State University and later was an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University while working in the Defense Department.

AP-ES-04-19-06 1710EDT

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