Montevallo’s Roberson tapped as interim president

Dr. Terry Roberson, vice president for academic affairs, will serve as president of the University of Montevallo for the fall semester, university officials said in a press release issued late Friday.

Roberson replaces President Philip Williams, who was granted a sabbatical after a very public clash with some on the university’s board of trustees.

“The Board is very grateful to Dr. Roberson, an esteemed educator for 34 years, for his willingness to undertake the additional duties the position requires, and the Board has pledged its full support to Dr. Roberson and to Dr. Kimberly Barrett, DeAnna Smith, and John Brady, the other vice presidents, whose already full workloads will be increased over the course of the semester,” said a university spokesperson in the press release.

On Thursday, after an almost three hour meeting with the university’s board of trustees, Williams was granted a sabbatical that will last until Jan. 1, 2010. Prior to the meeting, Williams said publicly he would resign without the support of each of the members of the university’s board. Apparently, two members of that board were at odds with Williams over a decision he made on behalf of the university to go along with a request by the University of Alabama Birmingham to offer classes at Jeff State College in Shelby County.

George Walker, chairman of the University of Montevallo Board of Trustees, said, “With strong encouragement of a committed community including faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, the Board and President were able to pause and consider how best to proceed for the long term good of the University.”

He continued, “It will take the same commitment from all of the same participants to make this a successful semester without Dr. Williams at the helm. There will be harsh budget issues to face in the very near future, as well as the vital work of preparing for SACS reaccreditation visits, and Dr. Roberson and the rest of the University administration are going to need every bit as much support and commitment on those issues as was provided by the University commitment yesterday. As challenging as these tasks may be of this semester, other Trustees and I are confident that if any institution and community can work together, this is such a place. We look forward to seeing the commitment demonstrated yesterday transformed into energy, cooperation, and hard work over the course of this semester.”

Walker also said he expects the board to retain a mediator to meet with trustees prior to the scheduled Nov. 6 meeting, and afterwards, for mediation to occur involving the trustees and the Williams, “during which we all hope and expect any issues to be identified, carefully discussed, and resolved in a mutual spirit of good faith and good will.

“I think by this action the board signals its hope that Dr. Williams will return to his position as President on Jan. 4, 2010, refreshed, recharged, and ready to work in partnership with the board, and resume the great work and leadership that he has provided Montevallo for the past three years.”