The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

November 1, 2012

University of Alabama names first permanent woman president

— TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama's board of trustees voted Thursday to appoint the first permanent woman president in the school's 181-year history.

The board met in an executive session for about an hour before naming current Provost Judy L. Bonner, 65. She's the older sister of U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, and served as interim president before outgoing President Guy Bailey took over in early September.

A native of rural Wilcox County, Bonner has two degrees from Alabama and said she was honored to be its first female chief executive. She said she never dreamed of going anywhere else for her undergraduate degree.

"I love the University of Alabama," said Bonner, who has advanced degrees from Alabama and Ohio State University.

Student government president Matt Calderone said he has worked closely with Bonner, and couldn't think of anyone better for the presidency. He said she's "almost a mother to our university."

"It's the fact she's there day and night," he said.

Bailey announced Wednesday he was resigning after less than two months in the job, citing his wife's health. The two-time Alabama graduate and Alabama native moved back to the state after leaving the presidency at Texas Tech University.

A statement released by the university quoted Bailey as saying he made the decision to step down after "much discussion" with wife Jan Tillery-Bailey.

"My family and I appreciate your understanding and your prayers," Bailey said.

University spokeswoman Deborah Lane said Bailey's wife was "critically ill this summer," but she didn't elaborate on her condition.

A story published four years ago in the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal described Bailey's wife, a Lubbock native, as a two-time cancer survivor.

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