ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – For the fourth time in five years, the Miss America Organization has someone new in charge.

Art McMaster, 50, who had served as vice president for finance, has been named acting president and CEO, succeeding CEO George F. Bauer, pageant officials said Tuesday.

Bauer, who had held the job for nearly two years, left after the expiration of a one-year contract he’d been working under, pageant spokeswoman Cathleen Kiernan said.

“George completed his contract as of Dec. 31 and he decided to pursue other professional opportunities. The board (of directors) and George separated amicably.”

Bauer, 59, didn’t return two telephone messages left at his home.

McMaster’s appointment comes at a time when Miss America is struggling. The organization, a nonprofit dedicated to providing scholarship assistance for young women, has floundered in recent years, the TV ratings for the pageant falling to new lows each year and its finances suffering.

It posted a $1.4 million loss in 2002, its net assets dropping to $5.6 million, their lowest level in eight years.

McMaster is the fourth chief executive since the departure of longtime CEO Leonard C. Horn in 1998. Two of the other three sued the Miss America Organization over their departures.

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AP-ES-01-06-04 1749EST

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