Updates and Messages

October 22, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

The University community is invited to attend an open forum with Dr. Michael Tidwell, finalist candidate for the position of USA president, at 11 a.m. on Oct. 26 in the Mitchell Center. At this event, the candidate will make a statement and take questions from the attendees.

Attendees at the open forum are encouraged to arrive early and sign up to receive a follow-up survey that will allow participants to provide feedback on each candidate to the Board of Trustees.

Doors to the Mitchell Center will be open approximately one hour before the event. Attendees must use the South Entrance to the arena (closest to Old Shell Road). Parking will be limited, so please plan to walk or take the JagTran to the Mitchell Center if possible.

Information about the candidates is available on the President Search website.

Thank you for your participation in the president search process.

Jimmy Shumock, Chair pro tempore
USA Board of Trustees


October 13, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

The University community is invited to attend an open forum with Dr. Damon Andrew, finalist candidate for the position of USA president, at 11 a.m. on Oct. 15 in the Mitchell Center. At this event, the candidate will make a statement and take questions from the attendees.

Attendees at the open forum are encouraged to arrive early and sign up to receive a follow-up survey that will allow participants to provide feedback on each candidate to the Board of Trustees.

Doors to the Mitchell Center will be open approximately one hour before the event. Attendees must use the South Entrance to the arena (closest to Old Shell Road). Parking will be limited, so please plan to walk or take the JagTran to the Mitchell Center if possible. Facemasks are required in the Mitchell Center at all times.

Information about the candidates is available on the President Search website.

Thank you for your participation in the president search process.

Jimmy Shumock, Chair pro tempore
USA Board of Trustees


October 8, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

The University community is invited to attend an open forum with Mr. Jo Bonner, finalist candidate for the position of USA president, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, in the Mitchell Center. At this event, the candidate will make a statement and take questions from the attendees.

Attendees at the open forum are encouraged to arrive early and sign up to receive a follow-up survey that will allow participants to provide feedback on the candidate to the Board of Trustees.

Doors to the Mitchell Center will be open approximately one hour before the event. Attendees must use the South Entrance to the arena (closest to Old Shell Road). Parking will be limited, so please plan to walk or take the JagTran to the Mitchell Center if possible. Facemasks are required in the Mitchell Center at all times.

Information about the candidates is available on the President Search website.

Thank you for your participation in the president search process.

Jimmy Shumock, Chair pro tempore
USA Board of Trustees


October 7, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I’m pleased to let you know that the USA Board of Trustees has voted to accept the recommendations of the President Search Committee and will invite three finalists to interview for the position of USA President in the next few weeks.

Our search for the next president of South, which yielded significant interest from a broad array of candidates, demonstrates that our University has an outstanding reputation across the nation. The search committee had the difficult task of narrowing an exceptional field of candidates, and on behalf of the entire University of South Alabama community, I thank them for their hard work.

The finalists for the position of USA President are (in alphabetical order):

  • Dr. Damon Andrew, Dean and Professor, College of Education, Florida State University
  • Mr. Jo Bonner, Chief of Staff to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey
  • Dr. Michael Tidwell, Immediate Past President, The University of Texas at Tyler

Detailed information about each finalist is available on the USA President Search website. Each finalist will meet with members of the University community, and an online feedback survey for each candidate will be made available. Please mark your calendar and take advantage of the opportunities you will have to engage with each finalist and to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees.

The schedule of open forums for the University community is as follows:

  • 11 a.m., Oct. 12, USA Mitchell Center — Mr. Jo Bonner
  • 11 a.m., Oct. 15, USA Mitchell Center — Dr. Damon Andrew
  • 11 a.m., Oct. 26, USA Mitchell Center — Dr. Michael Tidwell

After reviewing feedback from the finalists’ campus visits, the Board of Trustees will meet to discuss its selection for president. The new president’s start date will be determined by their individual circumstances and will be announced after discussion with the selected candidate.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this process. Your input and continued participation will be a critical part of selecting the next president of our University.

Jimmy Shumock, Chair pro tempore
University of South Alabama Board of Trustees


September 22, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I’m writing to provide the University community with an update on our president search.

The Search Committee recently conducted two days of in-depth interviews with a group of semifinalist candidates. The committee was pleased with the level of interest in the position and with the qualifications of each candidate selected for an interview. The committee then had the difficult task of narrowing the field to a small group of potential finalists who will be recommended to the USA Board of Trustees for consideration.

Our search consultant, R. William Funk & Associates, is in the process of following up with each of the desired finalists to confirm their interest in moving onto the next phase of the process. The search consultant will provide us with the results of those conversations, and the Board of Trustees will meet to consider the recommendations of the Search Committee.

The outcome of the Board’s consideration of the recommended finalists will be announced to the University community by Chair pro tempore Jimmy Shumock. The committee will work with the Board to provide opportunities for the University community to meet the finalists and provide feedback to the Board of Trustees, which will make a decision about the next president.

I thank and commend the members of the Search Committee for their hard work and dedication to the search process, and look forward to the next steps in selecting the next president of the University of South Alabama.

Alexis Atkins, Trustee
Chair of the President Search Committee


August 17, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Employees and Students,

I’m writing to provide the University community with an update on our president search. I’m pleased with the progress that we have made and with the level of interest that has been expressed by many potential candidates.

During the month of July, Board of Trustees Chair Pro Tempore Jimmy Shumock and I conducted more than 20 meetings with internal and external stakeholder groups to ask for input on the desired characteristics and experience of our next president, as well as on the challenges and opportunities for which our next president will need to be prepared. These meetings were both productive and insightful, and the information that we gathered was shared with the entire President Search Committee to help guide us.

The priority deadline for candidates to submit their materials was Aug. 1, and since then the President Search Committee has met twice to discuss the candidate pool and the next steps in the process.

Our search consultant, R. William Funk & Associates, contacted 128 people about the presidency at South. Of those who were contacted, more than 40 individuals indicated their interest in being considered as active candidates. At our Aug. 3 meeting, our consultant reported that the reception in the marketplace was positive, that South was viewed favorably by potential candidates, and that the University’s location was appealing. At the same meeting, search committee members were each asked to review the active candidate files, make an unranked list of the eight candidates they felt the Search Committee should interview, and forward their list to the search consultant.

The Search Committee met again on Aug. 12. At that meeting, our search consultant advised the committee about the names of the candidates who had been selected by committee members for further consideration. The committee engaged in a productive and constructive discussion about the candidates who were listed as potential interviewees by the search committee members, and then agreed upon a short list of semifinalists who will be interviewed in the near future by the committee.

After the semifinalist interviews, the committee expects to further refine the list and recommend a slate of candidates to the USA Board of Trustees. The committee will work with the Board to provide opportunities for the University community to meet the finalists and provide feedback to the Board of Trustees, which will make a decision about the next president.

I want to thank the members of the Search Committee for their diligence and dedication, which has allowed our process to move along efficiently and effectively. I look forward to providing the University community with additional information in the near future.

Alexis Atkins
USA Trustee and Chair, President Search Committee


May 28, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I’m writing to provide you with an update on the progress of the President Search Committee as we embark upon the search for the next president of our University.

The search committee has met several times over the past month to discuss the process and the desired qualifications for the next president. Included in those discussions have been representatives from our search consultant, R. William Funk & Associates. The committee has approved advertising to be placed in a number of national publications, and has developed and finalized a leadership statement that provides a comprehensive overview of the University and the position for potential candidates. In addition, the committee has sent individual letters to many leaders and friends of the University to encourage them to nominate individuals for consideration.

All of the information related to the search, including the position profile and information on how to nominate candidates, is contained on the President Search Website.

Over the next few months, our search consultant will be accepting applications and nominations for the position, and will be providing updates to the committee on a regular basis. The committee will most likely not need to meet again until it is time to begin reviewing candidates, and I will provide the University community with an update as that part of the process gets underway.

Alexis Atkins
Secretary, USA Board of Trustees
Chair, President Search Committee


April 15, 2021, Message to the University Community

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

This week the Executive Committee of the USA Board of Trustees met on two occasions to make a number of decisions related to the search for a new University president. In keeping with the board’s commitment to inform the University community about major milestones in the presidential search process, we want to share with you the actions the board has taken.

First, after discussions with President Tony Waldrop, the executive committee has agreed to allow President Waldrop to utilize his accrued vacation time for the remainder of his time with USA, effective as of today and until his retirement on July 1. President Waldrop has guided the University of South Alabama through a tremendous period of growth and improvement in academics, healthcare, student life and athletics, and he has the gratitude of the Board for all that he has done to enhance the teaching, research and service missions of the University.

Second, the executive committee has asked Executive Vice President John Smith to serve as acting president, effective immediately. Dr. Smith has been with USA since 2008, serving initially as vice president for student affairs and later as special assistant to the president. The Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Smith as acting president in 2013, a position he held until Dr. Waldrop was named president in 2014. Dr. Smith was named executive vice president in 2014.

Also this week, the executive committee approved the recommendation of the presidential search committee to engage the services of R. William Funk and Associates, a national search firm with an outstanding record of successful presidential placements, to assist with the president search. You will be hearing more about the search process in the near future, and the entire University community will be provided opportunities to give feedback on the finalist candidates.

Finally, the executive committee this week approved the charge to the presidential search committee and the proposal from the search firm, which you can read on the Board of Trustees website. In particular, the role of the search committee includes the responsibility to communicate timely news about the structure, timing, process, and progress of the search to the University community.

The Board of Trustees is confident that the work of the search committee, along with USA’s reputation and standing as a first-class institution of higher education and healthcare, will result in a very strong pool of interested candidates from which the next president of the University will be selected. We will continue to communicate with the University community throughout the search process.

Jimmy Shumock, Chair pro tempore
USA Board of Trustees

March 5, 2021 Press Release

USA Trustees Announce President Search Committee

February 11, 2021, Press Release

USA President Tony Waldrop to Retire; National Search to Commence