By 1819 News

The University of South Alabama (USA) Board of Trustees on Wednesday voted to hire former U.S. Congressman Jo Bonner (R-Mobile) as the next president of the University of South Alabama. The retired Congressman is presently Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s (R) Chief of Staff.

“We are delighted that our comprehensive national search has resulted in the decision to bring Mr. Bonner to USA as our fourth president,” said USA Board of Trustees Chairman Pro Tempore Jimmy Shumock. “He is a proven innovator, a skilled administrator and a respected, admired and influential leader in our state. With his leadership, we look forward to the continued elevation of the University of South Alabama’s reputation as a leading academic, research and healthcare institution.”

“Jo has served admirably as my chief of staff for the last three years, and on top of that, has been a longtime friend from Camden," Ivey said, adding she looks forward to working with him in the future in his new role.

The USA Search committee held a nationwide search for the university’s next president. The University engaged the services of R. William Funk and Associates, a national search firm with an outstanding record of successful academic presidential placements, to assist with the search. The search committee was tasked with “undertaking a national search to identify the next president.” “The next President will be a visionary leader who is student-centered and who has a deep appreciation for the mission and history of the University.”

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I thank the members of the President Search Committee for their dedication and diligence in moving this process forward,” Shumock said. “The Board also thanks the entire University community for your participation in the process.”

The two other finalists for the job were Damon Andrew, the Education Dean at Florida State University, and Michael Tidwell, the former president of the University of Texas. Both of the other candidates have earned doctoral degrees.

Bonner served as Vice Chancellor for Economic Development at the University of Alabama, from 2013 to 2018; and was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of South Alabama, in 2012, for his distinguished record of public service.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said, “Pleased to see that former Congressman Jo Bonner will serve as the @UofSouthAlabama’s fourth president. I look forward to what the future holds for USA with Jo at the helm.”

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) posted, "The big question remaining is -- who will run Alabama's governor's office? Gov. Ivey does not run the governor's office. We have a Joe Biden situation in our state capitol, and the man behind the curtain just left."

Gov. Ivey and Bonner both grew up in Camden in rural Wilcox County along with former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Bonner will be formally introduced and welcomed at the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees on Dec. 2.

It is not known yet who will replace Bonner as Ivey’s Chief of Staff.