Chancellor Witt to retire in August 2016

Peyton Shepard

University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt announced his intention to retire next year, The Crimson White learned. UA System spokeswoman Kellee Reinhart confirmed the statement.

In a statement on August 26, Witt stated his intent to leave his position, effective August 31, 2016, citing his wish to have more flexibility and spend more time with his family. Witt, 74, has served in the field of education for 47 years as a faculty member, department chair, dean, president and his current position as chancellor, having worked in both the UA System as well as The University of 
Texas System.

“The three UA System campuses and Health System are doing well with strong leadership in place, and the UA System’s staff is highly experienced and in a position to facilitate a system leadership change,” Witt said in the statement.

Witt tapped Ray Hayes, the current UA System executive vice chancellor, as his potential successor. The Board of Trustees will consider Hayes’ appointment at the upcoming September board meeting. According to the statement, Witt recommended to the Board that Hayes be named Chief Operating Officer of the UA System immediately following his appointment as chancellor-elect.

“He is a leader and administrator of great strategic vision, unwavering professional and personal integrity and strong professional experience,” Witt said of Hayes in the statement.

In her statement regarding Witt’s recommendation of Hayes, president pro tempore of the Board of Trustees Karen Brooks said the board is grateful for Witt’s commitment to seamless transition in the chancellor’s office and stated her approval of Witt’s recommendation.

“As Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations, Ray works side by side with Dr. Witt and understands the complexities of higher education from every perspective,” Brooks said in the statement. “He is masterful at maximizing resources and enabling our students, faculty and staff to have the competitive tools they need for academic success.”

In a statement from District 4 Congressman Robert Aderholt’s office, Aderholt congratulated Witt on his nine-year tenure as the president of The University of Alabama and wished Ray Hayes well as he takes on the position.

“Dr. Witt has always been a champion of The University of Alabama System and his leadership has been instrumental in guiding the UA System to great heights of success,” Aderholt said in the statement. “Before moving into the Chancellor post, Whitt served as President of The University of Alabama during nine years that were arguably among the University’s most successful both academically and athletically.

“Vice-chancellor Ray Hayes will have big shoes to fill. However, I know he has many supporters like myself to help ensure he can continue the success seen under Dr. Witt.”

Witt will take a transitional sabbatical year following his departure from the position, but said he plans to continue to be a resource to the UA System.