Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Chancellor to search, select, oversee president

Among Robert Witt’s first duties as the new chancellor of the University of Alabama System will be recommending a replacement for himself as president of the University of Alabama. The chancellor is responsible for recommending “to the Board, after an appropriate search process, the appointment and compensation of Presidents,” according to the UA System Board of Trustees Manual.

The system has three presidents, and each is responsible for administering one of the system’s three campuses. In addition to the University of Alabama, the system includes the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Chancellor Witt will be responsible for conducting the search process and making a final recommendation for the appointment of a new UA president to the board, said Kellee Reinhart, vice chancellor of system relations.

With the approval of the president pro tempore of the board, and after giving notification to the board, the chancellor is also responsible for terminating campus presidents.

Overseeing the presidents of each campus is only one part of the chancellor’s job. The chancellor is the chief executive officer of the University system and serves as the link between the board and the presidents. He is also responsible for implementing board policies.

Witt replaces former Chancellor Malcolm Portera, who retired last month after leading the system for 10 years. Witt, 71, is five years older than his predecessor.

“It is almost unheard of for somebody to be the head of one of the important institutions of higher learning in the country for 10 years,” Reinhart said. “We fully look forward to a smooth and seamless transition.”

During his tenure as chancellor, Portera served as interim president for both UAB and UAH during presidential search periods.

“The time is right for a transition in leadership for the state’s largest system of higher education,” Portera said after announcing his retirement in January.

The chancellor has primary responsibility for the system’s external relationships with the governor, state legislature, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, federal agencies and other organizations.

William Stewart, UA political science professor emeritus, said that Witt has shown an ability to maintain those relationships as UA president.

“I think he had a better understanding of political changes in the state and was better able to build relationships with state officials,” he said.

The chancellor coordinates the development and review of campus master plans and capitol development programs at each campus and submits his recommendations to the board. He also reviews and recommends the budgets of each campus and directs and approves the preparation of legislative requests for state funding. He ensures control and safekeeping for the University’s investments, according to the Board of Trustees manual.

The presidents serve as the chief executive officers of their respective campuses and maintain primary responsibility for academic issues and student services and they are also responsible for fundraising, intercollegiate athletics, operations and maintenance of campus infrastructure and implementing assigned responsibilities for the management of investment assets.

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