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Wilkinson to join A.F. Academy probers

A former member of the Salt Lake County Council has been named to help oversee the scandal-plagued Air Force Academy.

Winston Wilkinson will be a member of the Colorado academy's Board of Visitors. The 15-member board is charged with inquiring into morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters.

Wilkinson did not run for re-election to the County Council in 2002. Instead, at the age of 57, he made an unsuccessful attempt last fall for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In early March, President Bush announced he would appoint Wilkinson and James S. Gilmore III, a former Virginia governor, to the board.

In the past few months, the academy has been rocked by charges that it ignored the complaints of female cadets allegedly raped by their classmates. Some of them had been disciplined for complaining, according to national news reports.

Wilkinson said he believes the academy needs to change its attitude.

"They've made a good step in the right direction, changing leadership," he said.

This week, the Air Force announced it was replacing four top leaders at the academy. Two of the newcomers are women.

"I think they've got to work on changing some of the culture there," Wilkinson said. "I think there's mentality that they've got to change."

Wilkinson is a consultant on information technology and is working with homeland security and defense. Reached by telephone in Washington, D.C., he said he hopes to eventually become involved with rebuilding Iraq's technology base, once the war ends.

Wilkinson's appointment is for the remainder of a three-year term expiring Dec. 30, 2005, according to a White House press release.

Mike Deaver, who chaired Wilkinson's unsuccessful House campaign, said Wilkinson has deep qualifications. Wilkinson is a Navy veteran and was the first black in the White House Honor Guard, Deaver said.

Wilkinson received his undergraduate degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore and his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

"Wilkinson served in both the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, primarily in the Education Department," Deaver said.

Wilkinson serves as the Republican Party's Utah national committee representative. He is a consultant for RGII, a Washington-based software consulting company. His wife, Gloria, is a member of the University of Utah Board of Trustees.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com