BANGOR - University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal on Friday pledged the "support and active involvement" of the University of Maine System to help local, state, and federal officials deal with the proposed closures of military facilities in Kittery and Limestone and the proposed downsizing of the military base in Brunswick.
"The Defense Department's announcement today is bad news for our state's people and economy," Westphal said. "Our universities are willing and able to provide their expertise to local, state, and federal officials to present the most compelling case possible for retaining those facilities and their enormous benefits to the safety, security, and future of our nation."
Westphal said it would be premature to speculate on what role the University System would play should the Defense Department recommendations be implemented as presented Friday.
"Our focus over the next four months will be on helping Maine's local and state leaders and our Congressional delegation overturn these recommendations" Westphal stated. "We will do whatever we can to serve the best interests of those regions and individuals affected by proposed closings."
The University of Maine System enrolls over 34,000 students in its seven universities, three satellite campuses, and eleven University College outreach centers. The University of Southern Maine, the University of Maine at Augusta, Lewiston-Auburn College, and University College outreach centers in Sanford, Saco, and Bath are within close proximity to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery and the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Brunswick, and historically have helped served the educational and cultural needs of those regions. In addition, the University of Maine at Presque Isle has served a similar role for employees and family members who work at the Defense Finance and Accounting Services center in Limestone, located a few miles from the UMPI campus. The DFAS center was including in Friday's list of Defense Department facilities to be closed.