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

UA administration evolves in the 2012-2013 school year

Several administrators have been appointed this academic year, including president, vice president for advancement and interim provost, and University faculty and staff point to retirements and promotions as explanation for these changes.

In fact, the search for provost remains under way as current interim provost and vice president for research Joe Benson plans to step down from both positions this summer, a UA spokeswoman said.

“Over all, the UA administration has seen very few changes in recent years,” Cathy Andreen, director of media relations, said. “The changes at the vice presidential level this year resulted because Dr. Bonner was named president, opening the provost position, and because of recent or upcoming retirements of long-time administrators.”

The vice president of financial affairs, student affairs and community affairs have all held their positions for a number of years, Andreen said. The only new dean named in the last year was Peter Hlebowitsh of the College of Education, who joined the University this January from the University of Iowa.

“The most recent vice presidential appointments prior to the 2012-2013 academic year were Dr. Benson’s appointment as vice president for research in 2009 and Dr. Nelson’s appointment as vice president for student affairs in 2008,” she said.

Tom Jackson, vice president for public affairs at the University of Georgia, said while you may not want to hire this many top administrators every year, the is not unusual. “At UGA, we have a new president starting July 1,” Jackson said. “Since he was provost, we now have a vacancy at provost and the senior vice president for finance is retiring July 1.”

Jackson said UGA also has a spot to fill in the vice president for student affairs position after the previous administrator was named president of the University of Southern Mississippi, and in the past year they have hired five new deans out of their total of 17.

Sara Barger, dean of the Capstone College of Nursing and chair of the current provost search committee, said while it may not be usual for so many different top positions to change in one academic year, it also is not abnormal.

“What I mean by that is any time you have people in the system moving up, it’s going to open up positions,” Barger said. “And there’s a two fold reason for why this is happening.”

Barger said the first reason was the promotion of two key people, our president to chancellor and then our provost to president, and that several people are retiring, which opens up a lot of positions.

“What has made it unusual is both of these happened in the same year,” she said. “But it’s always a positive thing when you have good people that are so good that they are able to get even higher level positions.”

In addition to her search for a new provost, Barger is currently looking for a new dean to replace herself this August. Barger served as dean for 18 years.

“When you hire top positions like this what you want is the absolute best person for the job,” she said. “If you ever limited a search to internal or external you never really know if you got the right person, but by accepting both candidates, you get the best.”

Barger said the search committee she currently serves on was put together by the president to reflect a broad group of people affected by this position.

“The faculty are all affected by that so you want faculty senate,” she said. “The students are very affected, so you want representation from the SGA and other student organizations.”

Barger said student input is important for this particular search.

“I really think that we have the best and brightest students around and you all do such a great job representing us,” she said. “We really want the candidates to see that by meeting representatives of the student body.”

Michael Bownes, secretary of the Board of Trustees for The University of Alabama System, said he thought age was one of the biggest issues affecting this year’s evolving administration.

“You’re more likely to have turnover in a short period of time with older professors, and I don’t think any of it is unusual at UA,” Bownes said. “No one is being lost in the process either because really they are just moving around, so in a sense, we really haven’t had any big turnover.”

When hiring top-level administrators, Bownes said it was important to look at the past five or six hires in assessing whether UA tries to look more internally or externally.

“You have to look at all of those and that will tell you where they start, which seems internal,” Bownes said. “If you’ve got a candidate internally it might make the most sense, but it’s also good to bring new people in who have new ways of doing things.”

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