Trustees Honor Jim Bennett While Appointing His Successor at Fall Board Meeting

Trustees Honor Jim Bennett While Appointing His Successor at Fall Board Meeting


The new Marching Southerners practice field will be named after Jim Bennett, one of the first trumpet players in the band.

At its quarterly meeting on Oct. 17, the JSU Board of Trustees elected Ronnie Smith to serve as the board’s president pro tem, filling a vacancy left open following the death of long-time board chair Jim Bennett.

“I am humbled by the support from the other trustees,” said Smith, who has served as a member of the board since 2004.

Smith is a retired vice president of Alabama Power Company and current chairman of the board for Noble Bank & Trust. His involvement in the community has included serving as president of the Anniston Museum Endowment Board, chairman of the McClellan Development Authority, chairman of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, campaign chairman for the United Way, and a member of the Forward Calhoun County Development Council and the Economic Development Consortium. He received a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Auburn University in 1972.

The Board of Trustees also passed a resolution creating the position of vice president pro tem. Trustee Thomas Dedrick, who has served on the board since 2008, was selected for this position.

A graduate of Morris Brown College, Dedrick joined Merrill Lynch in 1982. He is a Certified Financial Planner Certificant, a Certified Financial Manager and a member of the Investment Management Consultants Association. He is also a National Football League Players Association Registered Player Financial Advisor. In addition to his service on the JSU Board of Trustees, he is vice chairman of the board for the Tuscaloosa Parking and Transit Authority and a member of the selection committee for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

The trustees wrapped its fall meeting by honoring the service of friend and colleague Jim Bennett, who died on Aug. 17 following a battle with cancer. Bennett’s 50-year relationship with JSU included serving on the Board of Trustees for 31 years, until the time of his death. A 1962 JSU alumnus, he played trumpet for the Marching Southerners from the second year of its existence, served as editor of the student newspaper and was elected a student representative.

For more than 30 years, Bennett served the state of Alabama. He was a member of the Alabama State House of Representatives from 1978-1983 and a member of the State Senate from 1983-1993. He was appointed Secretary of State in 1993 and was elected to the position in 1994 and 1998. He was appointed Labor Commissioner in 2003, 2006 and 2011. In 2013, he was appointed to serve another stint as Secretary of State, which he completed in 2015.

In honor of his service to the university and in remembrance of his love for the Marching Southerners, the board passed a resolution naming the marching band's new practice field in his honor.