Former congressman Bonner among US presidential candidates


The University of Southern Alabama Board of Trustees has revealed the three finalists to become the school’s next president, one of whom is a former congressman and current chief of staff to Governor Kay Ivey.

Jo Bonner’s inclusion on the roster had been rumored in the college community for some time. On Tuesday, administrators approved a slate of nominees but did not immediately disclose it.

The candidates are Bonner; Damon Andrew, dean and professor in the College of Education at Florida State University; and Michael Tidwell, past president of the University of Texas at Tyler.

“The search for our next president has generated great interest from a wide range of applicants, demonstrating that the University of Southern Alabama has an excellent reputation across the country,” Shumock said in an announcement. published Thursday by the university. “We are very happy that our presidency has attracted so many highly qualified candidates. “

The finalists will visit the campus in October and meet with various segments of the university community before the administrators make their final selection. Each is scheduled to appear at an open forum. These are set for 11 a.m. on October 12 for Bonner, 11 a.m. on October 15 for Andrew and 11 a.m. on October 26 for Tidwell, all at the USA Mitchell Center.

The date of entry into office of the new president has not been set.

The research began in April after Tony Waldrop announced his intention to retire. At the start of the discussion, Abe Mitchell, an honorary administrator and major donor to the United States. suggested that when the qualifications of presidential candidates were made public, it should be clarified that a doctorate. was not mandatory. He also suggested that it would be a plus for applicants to have some leadership experience in the healthcare field, because “when you look at our operations now, the medical side trumps almost everything else.”

The United States Presidential Research Guidelines include a section on “Preferred Certificates” which includes “a doctorate obtained in an appropriate discipline.” However, this is followed by the caveat that “Instead of an earned doctorate, [a candidate] must have exceptional training and an exemplary record of success in the administration of a large educational organization.

None of the three appear to reflect Mitchell’s wish for applicants with healthcare experience.

According to a biography provided by the United States, Andrew’s college career began with an associate’s degree from Coastal Alabama Community College, followed by a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of South Alabama, two more master’s degrees in biomechanics. and sports management from the University of Florida and a doctorate in sports management from Florida State University. He led the Doctoral Program in Sports Administration at the University of Louisville from 2004 to 2006 and founded and directed a Doctoral Program in Sports Management at the University of Tennessee from 2006 to 2008 before becoming Dean of the College. of Health and Human Services at the University of Troy from 2008-13 and Dean of the College of Human Sciences and Education at Louisiana State University from 2013-18.

According to Tidwell’s biography, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication from Ball State University, “where he was also entered as an NCAA Division 1 student-athlete and competed as a member of the n ° 1 collegial debate team at the national level “. He went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Communication and a PhD. in Organizational Studies from Washington State University. Prior to becoming President of UT Tyler in 2017, Tidwell was Dean of Eastern Michigan University College of Business. Dean of the College of Business at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and Associate Dean of Clayton State University School of Business. His teaching experience includes teaching positions in Missouri, Washington State, Kentucky and overseas in India and Kenya.

Bonner is an Alabama native who moved to Mobile in the late 1980s while working as chief of staff for U.S. Representative Sonny Callahan. In 2002, when Callahan resigned, Bonner won the race to succeed him and continued to represent Alabama’s 1st Congressional District from 2003 to 2013.

In 2013, he left Congress to become vice chancellor of government relations and economic development of the University of Alabama system. This phase of her career straddled her sister Judy Bonner’s 2012-2015 tenure as the University of Alabama’s first female president. (Judy Bonner then served as president at Mississippi State University from 2016 to 2019.)

Shortly after starting his first full term as governor in January 2019, Gov. Kay Ivey made Bonner his chief of staff, a post he still holds.

Detailed information on each finalist is available on the USA President Search website at

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