Maintaining Momentum: Interim President Judy Bonner
March 26th, 2012 - Filed under: Cover Story
Q. What were your first thoughts when you were approached about being interim president?
A. Like most everyone else, I was initially surprised that Dr. Witt would leave the presidency at this point in time. Clearly, his vision and leadership not only guarantees him a special place among all of the men who have served the University as president, but these were also qualities the board was looking for as the new chancellor for the system. Obviously, I am deeply honored to be able to build on Dr. Witt’s many accomplishments by working with our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders in this new capacity. These are exciting times for the University.
Q. You have worked very closely with Dr. Witt throughout his tenure as president. How has that prepared you to be interim president?
A. I have actually worked very closely with Dr. Witt since his first week at The University of Alabama. There are very few decisions that he made that we didn’t discuss. And, obviously, I played a role in executing his vision on campus. Dr. Witt has been an exceptional transformational leader. I learned from him the importance of focusing on a small number of priorities and on conducting business with a sense of urgency. His ability to focus and to instill a sense of urgency allowed so much to be done in such a short period of time.
Q. Will anything currently planned, such as building renovations, campus master plan, etc., be postponed or held up, or will it proceed on schedule?
A. Absolutely not. We will continue with business as usual.
Q. Do you see yourself as a caretaker interim president, keeping current momentum going, or do you have new goals you want to put forward? If so, what are those goals, or when would they be shared?
A. Over the last nine years, our campus has come together with a shared vision. During this transition, we will maintain the momentum that has characterized our campus. I will not be a caretaker; instead, I will make the decisions that are necessary to continue the progress we have been making. Naturally, the diverse views and talents of our University community — faculty, staff, students and alumni — will always be welcomed in the president’s office.
Q. How do you plan to allocate your time to balance the duties of both provost and president — what will your priorities be?
A. I have delegated many of the responsibilities associated with the office of the provost to other vice presidents and assistant vice presidents. I will continue to work directly with the deans and with the Faculty Senate. Clearly, I need their support in order to continue the progress we have been making.
Q. Many members of the UA community will want to interact with you as interim president. What is the best way for them to communicate their ideas and concerns to the president’s office?
A. I want to be available to the University community. I would like to have an open door policy but the reality is that getting my administrative assistant Kathy Morrow to find a time when we can meet will be the easiest way to not waste your time. She can be reached at 348-4892 or Kathy.Morrow@ua.edu. The president’s office email will be email@example.com.
Q. Are you moving into the president’s office?
A. I will work out of the president’s office.
Q. Will this transition affect faculty recruitment in any way?
A. The University of Alabama continues to be in an enviable position of hiring new faculty. This will not change.
Q. Describe your leadership style.
A. I would describe my leadership style as collaborative. I value input from the stakeholders. To an extent, I like to “play the game before the kick off.” In other words, I like to think through the consequences of action before taking it. But, then, I make the decisions that need to be made.
Q. How many hours a week do you work?
A. Obviously not enough!
Q. How do you like to start your work day?
A. I try to get to the office by 7 a.m. so that I can have some quiet time in the office before the day begins. I prefer to have some time to organize what needs to be accomplished.
Q. What can the faculty and staff do to help you as interim president — what do you need from us?
A. There are many things that are great about The University of Alabama. But, nothing can be accomplished without the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff. Together we can achieve anything. During the last nine years, our faculty and staff have come together to support a shared vision of making The University of Alabama the institution of choice for the best and brightest students. Faculty and staff from every division of the University embraced the vision and contributed significantly to creating a culture where we are all working together to translate this vision into reality. In doing this we have matured as a university. My hope is that the faculty and staff will continue to work together to maintain the momentum.
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