Douglas M. Duncan, the former Montgomery County executive and gubernatorial candidate, took a top post at the University of Maryland, College Park yesterday, taking over responsibilities for administration and finance at the state's flagship university.
Duncan, who served three terms as chief of Maryland's largest county, has kept a low public profile since last summer, when he withdrew from the Democratic primary for governor after a diagnosis of clinical depression. Last night, he said he is excited to take on a job that will combine his interests in education, administration, finance and redevelopment.
"I have a real passion for education," Duncan said. "As I left the county executive's office, I said, 'What can I do to stay involved and help make a difference?' and clearly, the University of Maryland is the flagship university in our state and is a great way to keep pushing education."
Duncan will be vice president for administrative affairs, filling a post held by John D. Porcari, who left the university to become Gov. Martin O'Malley's transportation secretary. He will be the chief financial officer and oversee such departments as human resources, public safety and facilities.
"I am truly excited that the University of Maryland has been able to recruit a leader of Doug's stature," University of Maryland President C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr. said in a statement. "He is an accomplished and collaborative administrator, is well-versed in statewide and regional issues, has long championed the value of high-quality public education, and will be a significant contributor to the University of Maryland family. He is a visionary person who can get the job done."
Duncan said he was drawn to the job because it centers not only on internal administrative issues but also with redeveloping the campus.
"It really is a key position to help make College Park the creative center of the state of Maryland," he said.
O'Malley - Duncan's one-time opponent in the Democratic primary - said Duncan is an excellent fit for the job. "He's an able administrator. He certainly proved that as county executive," O'Malley said. "I'm happy for him."
Duncan served as county executive from 1995 to 2007. Before that, he was mayor of Rockville and a member of the Rockville City Council. As executive, he developed a reputation as a skilled administrator, overseeing a larger budget and more employees than he will at the university.
In his three terms, he increased the county's education funding by more than 90 percent, expanded Montgomery County's community college and helped develop a University System of Maryland satellite campus at Shady Grove.
Duncan was known for business development, particularly in the high-technology Interstate 270 corridor, and for the redevelopment of Silver Spring. He faced some criticism from residents who believed he was too close to developers.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a College Park alumnus, said Duncan's background will be a tremendous benefit to the university.
"He's a great manager," Miller said. "He'll align the University of Maryland, College Park with the whole system and with the businesspeople from Montgomery County."
The University of Maryland has previously played host to those who found themselves out of a job after an election. Porcari and O'Malley's chief legislative aide, Joseph C. Bryce, held top posts in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's administration and went to the university after he was forced out of office because of term limits.
Glendening, a former College Park professor, pushed for the job of chancellor of the University System at the end of his second term but withdrew from consideration over ethics concerns. Those making the decision would have been the regents he appointed.
A university spokesman was unable to provide Duncan's salary last night. Duncan is scheduled to begin work April 4.
Those who have worked with Duncan over the years said they think the hire will be a good match for him and for the university.
"If you look at what the job entails, he's got all the qualifications," said Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, a Montgomery County Democrat who heads an education subcommittee. "He knows transportation. He knows facilities. It's a big organization, and he ran the biggest county in the state. I think he'll be great at it."