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BANGOR – University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal today named Robert A. Kennedy as the 18th president of the University of Maine.

Westphal and University System Board Chair Charles L. Johnson made the announcement at a news conference held in Bangor during a break in a meeting of the System’s Board of Trustees.

“Dr. Kennedy was selected from among a highly competitive pool of candidates and nominees as a result of a national search,” Westphal said.   “He is an accomplished scholar and researcher.

“He is experienced as a senior leader at several of our nation’s top public universities, Westphal continued. “He understands the special and distinct role and responsibilities of a land-grant university to its home state and to the nation.  He is experienced working as part of a university system, here and in other states. He demonstrated that he has the confidence and support of key constituencies within and outside of the university.”

Kennedy, who has been serving as interim president since August, has been with UMaine since 2000, when he was hired to serve as provost and vice president of academic affairs.  He later was named executive vice president and provost, a joint position he held until taking over the presidency following the resignation of Peter S. Hoff.

Board Chair Johnson explained that the presidential search committee decided to consider Kennedy after he was nominated and recommended by several individuals.  

“As the field narrowed and the various interview processes took place, Dr. Kennedy proved his worthiness for the position.” Johnson explained.  “Of all the candidates, he demonstrated that he was the most knowledgeable, experienced, accomplished, and prepared for the position. The other three finalists were outstanding candidates, but Dr. Kennedy proved he was best suited for the enormous responsibilities of the UMaine presidency.”

Speaking in Orono following the announcement, Kennedy expressed his gratitude to the trustees, chancellor, and search committee.

"I am sincerely humbled to be named president of the University of Maine," Kennedy said.  "It is an honor to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the many distinguished presidents who have led the University during its remarkable history.

“UMaine is a wonderful institution with a broad array of high quality programs ranging from those in the liberal arts and humanities programs to new graduate-level initiatives like the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences,” Kennedy continued. “I look forward with great enthusiasm to leading the University of Maine as it continues to play a growing and significant role in shaping the future of Maine and the world beyond the state's borders."

A plant biochemist, Kennedy grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1968.  After service in the U.S. Army, he entered graduate school, earning a Ph. D. in Botany from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974.  Kennedy’s academic career has included faculty and administrative posts at the University of Iowa, Washington State University, The Ohio State University, the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University.  Kennedy served for eight years as Vice President for Research and Associate Provost for Graduate Studies at Texas A&M immediately before coming to Maine five years ago.

Kennedy's wife, Mary Rumpho-Kennedy, is a UMaine Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. They reside in Veazie and are the parents of four sons.

Established in 1865, the University of Maine currently enrolls nearly 11,300 undergraduate and graduate students.  It employs approximately 2,200 individuals, including more than 700 full-time and part-time faculty members. UMaine offers nearly 160 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and awards over 1,900 degrees annually.