After 16 years at the helm of Jacksonville State University, Dr. William A. Meehan is retiring effective July 1, 2015.
Board Chairman Jim Bennett made the announcement at the end of the regular quarterly meeting on Monday at the Houston Cole Library.
"I have the unpleasant duty of announcing that Dr. Meehan has announced his retirement effective July 1, 2015," Bennett said.
"For 16 years, he's been an outstanding president. He's been part of this university community for over 40 years. Your footprint will always be here, Dr. Meehan, there's no doubt about that. We will begin a search for a successor and it will be a very diligent and well thought out effort. Thank you for your great service and we wish you well in whatever the future brings."
Dr. Meehan thanked the board for their support through the years.
"I'm a Gamecock and always have been," he said. "Now I'll just change back to the alumni role again, but I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and this board of trustees for the honor of serving as your president. It's been a delight. This board is always unified and always has the best interest of the university, the students, faculty and staff in mind. I could not have been more blessed by God than to have had this opportunity and I thank you very much. We've still got one more year and a lot of good things to look forward to in that year."
William A. Meehan entered JSU as a student in 1968. After completing his Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1972, Meehan returned to JSU for his master's degree, working as a graduate assistant in the Admissions Office until he completed his Master of Science in Biology in 1976.
Soon thereafter, Meehan was approached by JSU President Dr. Theron Montgomery and asked to stay on at JSU and teach biology. In January 1977, Meehan returned to the classroom at JSU, which he says was a "great transition."
"You always think of how nice it would be to teach at your alma mater, or even your high school. To be able to come back and do that at your university is very, very special," he recalls.
He completed a Doctorate of Education in the field of higher education administration from the University of Alabama.
Prior to becoming president, Dr. Meehan served in numerous administrative and teaching positions at JSU. Among these are coordinator of the medical technology program, director of academic advisement, assistant vice president for academic affairs, associate vice president for academic and student affairs, acting vice president for academic affairs and acting vice president for institutional advancement. He assumed the helm as president on July 1, 1999. He is the third longest serving president in the history of JSU.
As he prepares for his last year in office, Dr. Meehan said he is pleased with the university's progress and looks forward to the year ahead.
"As of today we received an A rating with a stable outlook from Standard and Poor's on our bond issue, a positive outlook on enrollment, our capital campaign is going well, and we have the upcoming reaffirmation of our SACSCOC accreditation, which is our best review in four cycles, or 40 years," he said.
After 47 years at JSU, including 40 on the payroll, Dr. Meehan said he is still proud that there are faculty members who have been here since he was a student.
"I know I'm leaving this institution in good hands. Jacksonville State is a very special place. Until you have the opportunity to see other places, you can't realize what a unique and special place it is, from the students to the faculty, staff and alumni."
What does Dr. Meehan envision for his last year in office?
"As Robert Frost said, we have miles to go before we sleep. We've got new programs being developed, an exciting year of Gamecock Athletics ahead, SACSCOC reaffirmation in December, and continuation of the capital campaign. Beth, Will, Drew, Carol Grace and I are looking forward to our 16th year as first family."
As he delivered his inauguration speech in 1999, Dr. Meehan focused his vision on tearing down the walls of the Ivory Tower. When asked how he has accomplished this during the past 16 years, he said, "We've had more community activity and more involvement in our region than ever before, thanks to the good things that our students, faculty, and staff are doing. We have more outreach, we've added our doctoral program, 58 conference championships in sports, and there's more to come.
"Our community relationships are much better because of the communications channels that have been created. Even though financing hasn't been the best in the world, we've been able to maintain a manicured, beautiful campus. As of today, we've acquired more property that means we won't be landlocked. There's room for expansion, which will come in the future. West Mountain Avenue is a new southern portal for the university. Recently, we've had some of largest graduation classes ever, so we've added more Gamecocks to our alumni rolls. The average ACT score of incoming freshmen has risen from 19 to 22.5, and we've added a lot of scholarships that will help our students pay for their education."
When asked if there were any outstanding goals he has not accomplished, Dr. Meehan replied, "We haven't reached our goal of 10,000 students, and we still have major projects like the music building that we want to see realized for the university. In the year ahead, we'll continue toward our goals and objectives. Since I've been president, we've developed our very first strategic plan. That plan will continue to lead to success."
After retirement what is next?
With a wink at the First Lady, he replies.
"I'm sure Mrs. Meehan will tell me."
Comments from JSU Students, Faculty and Staff Regarding Dr. Meehan's Announcement
"It has been my pleasure to serve as Provost for almost fifteen years, during Dr. Meehan's presidency. While his announcement to retire surprised me, I certainly wish him the best as he embarks on that adventure next year. I will miss working with him." —Dr. Rebecca O. Turner, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
“I am deeply saddened to hear of President Meehan's retirement. When you think of JSU, you think President Meehan. He is a distinguished leader and has always been a friend of the students at JSU. In my time working with Student Government, Dr. Meehan has always been sensitive to the needs and concerns of the student body and that is something that isn't easy to find when you look at schools across the nation. It is going to be difficult to find someone who is so considerate of the student body as an administrator. I am just thankful for the time and leadership that President Meehan has given to JSU so far. His legacy is with the thousands of Gamecocks that have graduated in his time at JSU. On behalf of the SGA and the student body, we thank Dr. Meehan for his service over the years to our students and University and we wish him a happy and blessed retirement.” -- Brett A. Johnson, Student Government Association President
“Dr. Meehan has been a great influence on my life for the past 25 years. I met him as a student when he served as the advisor of Delta Chi Fraternity. I have had the opportunity to work with him throughout my college and professional career. One of the greatest memories of Dr. Meehan was to see him inaugurated as President of Jacksonville State University. His leadership and guidance has had a major impact on me as a professional and I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to work with him over the past 25 years.” – Terry Casey, JSU Director of Student Life
“I have had the honor of working closely with Dr. Meehan through our joint work on the Jacksonville State University Endowment Foundation, the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and the Knox Concert Series Board of Directors. It has truly been a pleasure working with a University President who, regardless of the obvious challenges he faces each and every day, has continued to have the most positive attitude combined with leading the most positive change in the University’s history. He also has the opportunity to retire at the pinnacle of his success and impact for the University. Few leaders have that distinction. The Board of Trustees will have a tremendous challenge in replacing him. We will treasure spending this year with his continued involvement and wish him continued success and happiness as it draws to a close in this chapter for him and Beth and our University! ‘Well done our good and faithful servant!’” – Gregory D. Brown, President of the JSU Foundation Board