While Dr. Holland remains on administrative leave during the board investigation, the UWA Board of Trustees appointed Mr. John G Blackwell as the special interim president.
Mr. John Blackwell comes to UWA as a former Auburn University Trustee, highly recommended by current Auburn Trustee Jerry Smith. Blackwell is also an Auburn University alumnus, who majored in veterinary medicine while on basketball scholarship. While at Auburn, He was involved with Omicron Delta Kappa, The National Leadership Honor Society, Who’s Who, President of the A club, and various others activities.
“Happy to be in Livingston,” stated Blackwell; who, in previous years, served for four years as chief financial officer at UWA under former president Dr. Ralph M. Lyon. During his time as UWA chief financial officer, Blackwell helped introduce the first computers and the first copy machine to the university. As interim president, Blackwell would like the UWA facility and student to do everything they can to be able to compete with other universities’ programs. He, in conjunction with Mrs. Betsy Compton, director of UWA public relations, will begin a campaign in order to gain more public awareness to UWA and show the university’s impact on West Alabama.
When asked about any changes he planned on making at the university, Blackwell replied, “It is too early to make any changes, but change is inevitable.” However, a change in tuition could be possible under interim president Blackwell; he states, “They will have to go through the budget process and know what our budget will be for the year.” “In the past, state appropriation for universities was eighty to ninety percent; now the state appropriation is about 40 percent, and tuition has to offset that amount.”
Even during these troubled times for the university, Blackwell said, “The spirit is terrific and people have welcomed me.” “My role is to help everyone here; all universities are similar in which they help students reach [their] dreams.” “Follow your dream; follow your dream; follow your dream; life is too short not to follow your dream.”
Blackwell is not considering fully taking on the role of university president. On the subject of the length of time he will remain interim president at UWA, Blackwell stated, “That remains to seen; it is a matter of months not years.”