University of South Alabama names Jo Bonner, former congressman, as president

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The University of South Alabama Board of Trustees voted in Jo Bonner as the new president during a special call meeting on Wednesday.

Jo Bonner was named the fourth president of the University of South Alabama. Bonner represented Alabama’s First District in the U.S. House of Representatives for six terms and currently serves as Chief of Staff to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. In his current position, Bonner directs an executive staff of 35 and oversees 21 cabinet agencies and departments administering a total state budget of more than $26 billion.

“One of the things he doesn’t have to do is go introduce himself to the mayor or around the community or in the state or Washington. He doesn’t have to worry about that. If he wants a meeting in Washington, he can get an audience,” said Jimmy Shumock, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Ultimately, we feel we choose the best leader for South Alabama moving forward.”

Bonner was chosen over the two other finalists, Dr. Damon Andrew, dean and professor at the College of Education at Florida State University, and Dr. Michael Tidwell, immediate past president at the University of Texas at Tyler.

Two board members were in opposition, due to their support of another candidate. And there has also been opposition among students claiming his lack of qualifications and some of the actions he has taken in the Alabama Government not representing the student body well.

But ultimately, Bonner gained the majority. Bonner says he’s ready to go to work for the university, saying, “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.”

The university is aiming for Bonner to start at the beginning of 2022. The board will formally introduce and welcome him at its next regular meeting scheduled for Dec. 2.

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