The University of South Alabama (USA) announced the three finalists for the position of president this morning, noting the candidates will participate in campus tours and open forums with the university community in the coming weeks.
The 58-year old university, with an enrollment of around 14,000 students, has only had three previous presidents. The first two, founder Fred Whiddon and Gordon Moulton, served for 35 and 15 years, respectively. The third president, Tony Waldrop, was hired in 2014 and resigned earlier this year as his wife pursued a career opportunity in another state.
USA Board of Trustees formed a presidential search committee and following a nationwide search, voted to accept their recommendations Tuesday. According to a news release, the effort “yielded significant interest from a broad array of candidates.”
The three finalists are:
• Dr. Damon Andrew, dean and professor, College of Education, Florida State UniversityAccording to a brief biography accompanying his resume, Andrew is an alumni of USA who earned an associate’s degree from Coastal Alabama Community College, a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from USA, two additional master’s degrees in biomechanics and sport management from the University of Florida, and a PhD in sport management from Florida State University.
Andrew went on to direct sport management programs at the University of Louisville and the University of Tennessee before accepting positions as dean at Troy University and Louisiana State University. His scholarly interests include leadership in sport, the attraction of sport, and the effective integration of disabled individuals into sport. Andrew’s open forum is scheduled at 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 15 at the Mitchell Center.
“As a higher education administrator, he has developed a reputation as a transformational leader with the ability to reach lofty goals, even under trying circumstances,” his biography states. “During his 14 cumulative years as dean, colleges under his leadership recorded significant increases in student majors, credit hour productivity, student retention, faculty, staff, and student diversity, continuing education revenue, grant funding and annual fundraising.”
• Jo Bonner, chief of staff to Alabama Gov. Kay IveyBefore becoming Ivey’s chief of staff, Bonner was well known in the community for his services as a U.S. Congressman from 2003-2013, where he claims billions of dollars in economic investment were steered toward the local economy, while he also navigated through hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, as well as the 2010 BP oil spill. He resigned to accept a position as Vice Chancellor for Economic Development for the University of Alabama System from 2013-2017 and took the position in the governor’s office in 2018.
“His crowning Congressional accomplishment came in 2012 when Airbus announced plans to build their first U.S. Final Assembly Line in Mobile,” his biography states. “Over the years, Congressman Bonner developed friendships and strategic partnerships with the top corporate leaders at Airbus, one of the world’s largest aerospace and defense companies. The Airbus project has resulted in more than $1 billion being invested in Alabama, creating thousands of new jobs in the aerospace industry and putting Mobile on track to become the fourth largest commercial aviation city in the world.”
Despite Bonner’s professional and political achievements, his resume notes his own education does not extend beyond a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Alabama. USA did award Bonner an honorary doctorate in 2012. His open forum is scheduled at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Mitchell Center.
• Dr. Michael Tidwell, immediate past president, The University of Texas at TylerTidwell is a native of Southern California who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication at Ball State University. He went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in organizational studies from Washington State University.
Until he accepted the presidency of UT Tyler in 2017, Tidwell was dean of the Eastern Michigan University College of Business, dean of the College of Business at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and as assistant dean of the Clayton State University School of Business.
He has 20 years of administrative experience and teaching experience including faculty positions in Missouri, Washington State, Kentucky and abroad in India and Kenya.
He has been a management and research consultant and his research efforts have focused on managing business relationships across international boundaries. Tidwell’s open forum is scheduled at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26 at the Mitchell Center.
Additional information about each finalist is available on the USA President Search website.
USA Board Chair pro tempore Jimmy Shumock said after reviewing feedback from the finalists’ campus visits, the Board of Trustees will meet to discuss its selection for president. The new president’s start date will be determined by their individual circumstances and will be announced after discussion with the selected candidate.
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