Jo Bonner was officially sworn in as the fourth president of the University of South Alabama on September 23, 2022.
The University of South Alabama is the crown jewel and flagship of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. It is a spacious, well-kept, beautiful and functional modern campus. It is currently the third largest university in the country.
Under the direction of President Jo Bonner, it will grow and thrive until, within the next decade, it is recognized as one of our leading “Big Three” major flagship universities, along with the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
Its location as the only major university in our state’s populous Mobile/Baldwin metropolitan area, coupled with the University of South Alabama Medical School and Center on campus, portends exponential growth and prosperity for the University of South Alabama.
Prosperity for the US is ensured with the election of Josiah R. Bonner, Jr. as President. For the next ten years, he will be viewed in the same terms and in the same breath as America’s legendary founding President, Frederick Whiddon, who led America’s first 35 years.
There has never been a more perfect election to head a major university in our state than the appointment of Jo Bonner as President of the United States. His knowledge of the Mobile/Baldwin area business, community and social community is second to none. He is an integral part of the mobile community thanks to his decades of service as your congressman.
He left Congress with the highest regard and admiration. He was so respected by his fellow congressmen that he served as chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Ethics. You can be assured that there is no university president, lobbyist, or board member who can walk the halls of Congress and bring home the bacon from the boundless federal trough than Josiah Bonner, Jr.
You can also be assured that there is no college president in the state who has the influence and awe of Montgomery’s Goat Hill than Josiah Bonner, Jr. This is a very unique and perfect blend of prosperity and growth for the US.
It is well known in political circles that Jo Bonner is Governor Kay Ivey’s closest confidante. For four years he was her chief of staff. Their families go back generations as friends and relatives in Wilcox County.
Jo Bonner’s father, the first Josiah Bonner, was a Wilcox County probate judge. Jo is the baby of the family, a good 15 years younger than his brother Jim, who grew up with Governor Kay Ivey as friends and in school. Jo’s sister, Judy, and Senator Jeff Sessions were in school together in grades K-12, then Jo joined much later.
The aforementioned sister, Judy Bonner, was President of the University of Alabama. Never before in Alabama history have two siblings served as presidents of a major Alabama university.
Jo Bonner did indeed become President of the United States in January. The official opening event was on September 23rd. It was a great program. Governor Ivey delivered the keynote address. She beamed with pride as she spoke of her “little brother” from Wilcox County.
dr Jack Hawkins, the 30-year-old chancellor of the Troy University system, gave a brilliant speech. As dean of university presidents, he spoke for all university presidents in the country.
Jo Bonner’s family has been recognized, beginning with his sister, President Judy Bonner. His wife Janee was in attendance along with his two eminent children, son Robin and daughter Lee.
The opening event took place in the magnificent Mitchell Center. The Mitchell family was a great benefactor to the United States. Ms. Arlene Mitchell is Chair of the Board of Trustees. Another member of the Board of Trustees is Dr. Steve Stokes, a Dothan-based radiology oncologist. He and his wife Angela have also been generous donors to the United States. Stokes Hall is the newest hall of residence on campus.
It was really fitting that Jo Bonner had a crowd of political dignitaries attend his opening ceremony. It was like a political gathering of the who’s who of Alabama politics, visiting the floor of the Mitchell Center before Jo’s inauguration.
The list of participants is too long to list. However, alongside Governor Ivey were Mac McCutchen, John McMillan, John Merrill, Bobby Singleton, Vivian Figures, Young Boozer, Bill Poole, Twinkle Cavanaugh, Sandy Stimpson, Will and Liz Filmore, Cathy Randall, Gordon and Ellen Stone, Jim Purcell, Victor Gaston , Chip Brown, Margie Wilcox, Alan Baker and Judge Sarah Stewart to name a few.
They were all there to honor a man who is revered and respected in Alabama – Josiah “Jo” Bonner.
Steve Flowers is a former state official, Alabama historian, and political columnist.