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Va. governor's energy guru leaves for college post

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Bob McDonnell's top energy adviser has left his administration for a job at Christopher Newport University.

Maureen Matsen was deputy secretary of natural resources and McDonnell's senior energy adviser, a critical post for a Republican administration that stressed energy development.

Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech said Friday that Matsen left the administration about a week ago to become university counsel at the public university in Newport News. She had previously held a similar position at VMI.

Matsen had a hand in virtually every aspect of the governor's quest to make Virginia the "energy capital of the East Coast." She served on the state's offshore wind authority, was the point person for a multi-agency group studying uranium mining and organized the governor's annual energy conference. She also helped negotiate with the Navy and shipping industry over offshore wind tracts.

"Obviously, Maureen leaving is a loss but we'll continue to do the work and we have a number of things we're working on," Domenech said. Energy-related projects, including the state's energy plan due out this summer, will continue to move forward under a coalition of officials and agencies, such as the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

"It was always a coalition-type of effort," Domenech said. "But, yes, her loss will be felt but we'll carry on all the projects that she has been involved with."

Messages left for Matsen were not immediately returned.

Matsen joined the McDonnell administration from the attorney general's office, where she was deputy attorney general for civil litigation. She also was worked on utility matters before the State Corporation Commission.

The northern Virginia native also led the state's efforts to settle claims stemming from the April 2007 mass shootings at Virginia Tech, according to a profile on McDonnell's website.

In an Associated Press interview in 2010, Matsen acknowledged McDonnell's goal to make the state an energy capital was "an incredibly ambitious goal," but said the administration was taking the long view.

"This is about doing the right thing going forward and building a foundation and an economy that's going to sustain the commonwealth long after we're gone," she said.

McDonnell, who is on a trade mission to Asia, is in the final year of his four-year term. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sszkotakap

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