Former UNA President passes away at 78

Former UNA President passes away at 78
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 4:00 PM CDT
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Former president of the University of North Alabama, Dr. Robert Leslie Potts passed away on Friday at the age of 78.

“Robert’s life was a celebration of the causes he held dear - from his leadership at the University of North Alabama to his role as a long-time advocate for diversity in our state and our region,” UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts said. “Dena and I join the campus and community in mourning the loss of our colleague and friend. He leaves a strong legacy at UNA as a dedicated and tireless supporter of students and their success. Robert will be greatly missed.”

Potts served as the president of UNA from 1990-2004. During his tenure, he expanded the UNA brand, created the UNA Foundation, for which there is a leadership scholarship named after him and spearheaded the creation of the Presidential Mentor’s Academy.

After practicing law, before he was UNA’s president, Potts started his full-time career in higher education in 1984 when he accepted the role of General Counsel at the University of Alabama System. After serving in that position for three years, he was appointed as the first Chancellor of the Jonesboro Campus of Arkansas State University.

While he was president, Potts was known as the ‘students’ president’ since they were a huge priority to him.

“He articulated often his philosophy that all UNA employees were here to serve and interact with students, whether faculty, administrator, grounds personnel, or other,” said Dr. Kimberly Greenway, former Vice President for Student Affairs who served as the Staff Council Chairperson under Potts. “He genuinely cared about the student experience at UNA and valued the input of students, faculty and staff. I will always appreciate what he contributed to the University and to my growth as a professional.”

After his retirement from UNA, Potts served as a member of the UNA President’s Cabinet, which he created while serving as president. In 2020, Potts received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the UNA National Alumni Association.