The University of Alabama System has announced a change in leadership at the highest level, as Chancellor Finnis “Fes” St. John IV prepares to take on a new role at the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership. Sid J. Trant, the system's current general counsel and senior vice chancellor, will serve as interim chancellor starting April 1, 2024, following St. John's retirement.
“Following my tenure as a Trustee, it is a tremendous honor to serve as Chancellor of the University of Alabama System. The UA System is stronger than ever with outstanding leaders at the helm of our institutions. We are poised to continue to succeed and achieve our mission of improving lives through education, research and service,” said St. John.
In his role as Chancellor of the UA System, Mr. St. John has worked since 2018 as president of the UA System, one of Alabama's largest employers and the state's largest high school leader, consisting of three dynamic research universities: the University of Alabama; I am the CEO of an education company. Birmingham, University of Alabama Huntsville, and UAB Health System.
“I am honored to serve as the founding executive director of the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership,” said St. John.
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“Senator Richard Shelby and Dr. Annette Shelby’s remarkable work in education and public policy has had an indelible impact on Alabama’s higher education landscape, and I am extremely grateful for their support. The program furthers their lasting legacy through a shared vision of investing in the future leaders of our state and nation. Education and public service have been a driving passion in my life, and I am looking forward to this role. We look forward to uniting the two and launching an asset that will positively impact the university, the UA System, and our state for years to come.”
The Shelby Institute, announced by UA in February 2023, is scheduled to open in fall 2024. The Institute, supported by a $20 million endowment, will be a premier student-centered academic and service program focused on educating and training students interested in the public sector. policy.
Approximately 20 undergraduate students will be selected for the first cohort of the Shelby Scholars Program, and each student will be required to complete a minor in public policy and will receive scholarship support.
In addition to participating in specialized, policy-focused coursework, these students also participate in internship and professional development experiences, national conferences, speaker series, and exposure to prominent local, state, and policy political leaders. You will also participate in unique experiences outside the classroom, such as interacting with policy analysts. country level.
“Through his exemplary leadership and passion for higher education, President St. John has elevated the University of Alabama System, one of the most influential institutions in the state, to tremendous heights,” said Senator Shelby. said.
“Annette and I are honored that Mr. Fess has agreed to serve as the inaugural executive director of the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership, especially given the valuable institutional knowledge he has gained in his research. I believe the university has chosen the best person for the role,” said Chancellor and former member of the UA System Board of Governors. We remain grateful to the university for establishing this institute that will educate generations of future leaders with a shared passion for policy and public service. ”
During St. John's tenure as chancellor, the UA System's annual economic impact on the state exceeded $15 billion, and annual research and development spending increased nearly 40 percent to more than $1 billion, according to the system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he spearheaded a comprehensive health and safety program that led to the successful reopening of the UA System's campuses and became a national model. Despite national trends, enrollment across the UA system has remained stable under the leadership of St. John's University, and the total number of degrees and certificates awarded has increased, with the Alabama resident The number of first-year students is also increasing.
There have been no tuition increases for Alabama residents in five of the past six years, helping the UA System provide an accessible, high-quality education to approximately 70,000 students.
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“We are thrilled that Chancellor Finnis St. John has agreed to serve as the inaugural executive director of the Shelby Institute for Policy and Leadership,” said Dr. Jim Dalton, UA executive vice president and provost. “His wealth of knowledge, leadership experience, and passion for preparing students for impactful careers are uniquely aligned with Senator Shelby's vision and the University's goals for the Institute. I look forward to working with President John to launch the first group of Shelby Scholars programs this fall.”
Prior to becoming president, Mr. St. John served on the University of Alabama System Board of Governors for 17 years, including three consecutive terms as interim president. During that time, he also worked as an attorney at St. John & St. John LLC, one of Alabama's oldest law firms, in his hometown of Cullman. St. John graduated with honors from his UA, and he was a member of his Kappa Beta Phi. He is also a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a member of the prestigious American Trial Lawyers Association.
“Faith St. John has been a pillar of leadership in the University of Alabama System for the past 20 years,” said Scott Phelps, interim chairman of the UA System Board of Governors. “The landscape of the entire UA system has changed positively under his visionary leadership as director and board chair, and the board is forever grateful for President St. John’s enduring contributions. .”
Pro Tem Phelps appointed a search committee within the UA System Board of Governors to identify St. John's replacement. The Commission has begun an investigation to determine what is necessary to continue improving the UA System and expanding its influence throughout Alabama and beyond, as provided by the Board's bylaws and regulations. Identify candidates with the right attributes and qualifications. The Chancellor is employed directly by the Board of Directors and performs his duties according to the wishes of the Board.
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Sid J. Trant, the UA System's current general counsel and executive vice chancellor, will become interim chancellor effective April 1. Mr. Trant will return to his current position after the new president takes over.
Pro Tem Phelps expressed his appreciation for Trant's willingness to serve in this interim role, saying, “Sid's strong leadership, keen intellect, and steady guidance will serve as a key member of the University of Alabama System's leadership team. , UA System will be able to continue to build on its success.” The Board of Directors will select the next president to lead this transformative institution. Sid is deeply committed to helping the UA System achieve its vision of being the premier public system of higher education and health care in the United States, and we are fortunate to have him in this role. ”
Prior to joining UA System in September 2017, Trant was a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP for 30 years. While he faithfully served his clients, he also served in a variety of roles within the firm, including practice group chair, recruiting partner, and member of the firm's executive committee.
He graduated summa cum laude from UA in 1983 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1986, where he graduated summa cum laude as a member of the Order of the Coif. Prior to joining the Bradley Firm, Mr. Trant served as the Sam C. Pointer Jr. Honorary Judicial Clerk and as a legislative assistant to Senator Howell Heflin in Washington, DC. He is a member of several professional organizations and serves as vice chairman of the Freshwater Land Trust. board of directors.
Grayson Everett is the state and politics editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270