Governor’s top aide named president at South Alabama


(AP Photo/Bonner campaign, File)

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Kay Ivey’s chief of staff, former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, was named president of the University of South Alabama on Wednesday over two candidates with more degrees and experience in higher education.

Bonner, 61, “is a proven innovator, a skilled administrator and a respected, admired and influential leader in our state,” board pro tem Jimmy Shumock said in a statement announcing Bonner’s selection.

“With his leadership, we look forward to the continued elevation of the University of South Alabama’s reputation as a leading academic, research and health care institution,” Shumock said.

Bonner, who represented the Mobile area while in Congress, is the younger brother of former University of Alabama President Judy Bonner. Trustees chose him over Damon Andrew, the education dean at Florida State University; and Michael Tidwell, the immediate past president of the University of Texas at Tyler.

Bonner was the only candidate without an earned doctoral degree — he has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama — and his resume doesn’t include experience in academic administration, although he served as vice chancellor for economic development of the three-campus University of Alabama System.

Bonner, who will become the university’s fourth president, will be formally introduced at a trustee meeting on Dec. 2. By law, the governor appoints members of the university’s board.

“Over the coming days and weeks, I look forward to working with the Board members to better understand their timetable and expectations for helping to move the University of South Alabama to the next level. There is obviously a lot of success and momentum on which to build. For today, however, I remain deeply humbled,” he said in a statement.

South Alabama had an enrollment of 13,136 students in the spring, according to its website. The university announced then-president Tony Waldrop’s retirement in February.

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