Univ. of AL president announces plan to leave office - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Univ. of AL president announces plan to leave office

Dr. Judy Bonner was named president of UA in 2012. (Source: UA) Dr. Judy Bonner was named president of UA in 2012. (Source: UA)

University of Alabama president Dr. Judy Bonner sent a letter to the campus community Wednesday morning, announcing her decision to leave office in 2015.

It reads as follows:

Dear UA Students, Faculty and Staff:

On Monday, I sent a letter (http://uanews.ua.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/bonner.pdf) to Chancellor Witt indicating my plans to leave the presidency of The University of Alabama no later than the end of September 2015. I would like to return to my first love, which is teaching and working more directly with students. In order to do so, I will take a year's sabbatical to prepare to return to the classroom in the Fall of 2016. After all, our core mission at the Capstone has always been – and must always be – about giving our students the best chance to go out and be successful, making a difference in our state and around the world. Once the Board of Trustees has identified the next president, I will do everything I can to assist with a seamless transition.

To all who know me – my faculty colleagues, our dedicated staff, our outstanding students, and our loyal alumni – you can imagine that this was not an easy decision to make. Like many other Alabama families, ours, too, has a long and deep connection to this special place. More than 100 years ago, our grandfather graduated from The University of Alabama and, earlier this semester, my niece began her freshman year. Four generations of my family have called the Capstone home, and Alabama's first university has been – and will always be – an integral part of my life.

Looking back on my career here, it is fair to say that I have totally enjoyed every position I have held. I loved teaching and research. As I moved through various administrative positions, I never forgot that I am a faculty member first. I also treasured being able to serve first as a department chair, then an assistant vice president, special assistant to the president, dean, provost and executive vice president, and now president. With each position, I worked hard, giving every task my highest and best self, while forever being faithful, loyal, firm, and true to this great institution.

In each of these positions, I have had the privilege of providing leadership on the shoulders of giants. No provost or president can accomplish very much alone. But, together, we can – and we are – achieving great things that are transforming our University into a nationally competitive university characterized by excellence on multiple fronts. I am most proud of the way our campus is working together as a team with a common vision. As a result of teamwork, we are creating an environment that is attracting the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff, and we are empowering them to succeed.

It is impossible to thank all the mentors, friends, colleagues, and supporters who have helped make this journey so incredibly special. Going back to my own professors when I was an undergraduate, I was richly blessed to have so many wonderful role models and enablers at every step along the way. However, two people in particular helped open the door to my current position – former presidents Roger Sayers and Bob Witt. I know my own presidency would have never happened had it not been for these two individuals.

Serving as an assistant academic vice president to Roger Sayers when he was our academic vice president and then briefly serving as a special assistant to President Sayers, I gained an important and unique understanding into some of the day-to-day challenges and decisions that often land squarely on the desk of the provost and president. And, I learned from the master how to solve complex problems on a university campus. To this day, Dr. Sayers remains a trusted friend and confidante.

And I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to Dr. Witt when, only a week into his presidency in March 2003, he asked me to be his provost and executive vice president. Working side-by-side with President Witt, I was given the opportunity to play a major role in a decade that will be remembered for the remarkable growth in our student body, our faculty, and our infrastructure. I was so honored when Dr. Witt and the Board of Trustees asked me to become the 28th president, providing an opportunity to build on the successes of the past decade and continuing to work to complete the unfinished agenda that we began together.

Finally, I want to thank our Board of Trustees for the confidence they placed in me and for their unwavering support during my time as president. Their love for The University of Alabama is unquestioned, and I have committed to them that, during my remaining time as president, we will continue to be focused on making sure the Capstone continues to make progress.

We will continue to work together and make progress in the coming months. Please know that each of you holds a special place in my heart, and I appreciate all that you do to make this University truly great.

Bonner's biography on the university website says she was named the 28th president in November 2012, serving as interim president for six months the same year. She joined the faculty in 1981 as associate professor and head of the Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality.

She has held faculty appointments in the pediatrics department at UAB and medical dietetics at Ohio State University.

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