Jacksonville State University President Bill Meehan is being considered for
the top job at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga.
He will interview there at the end of the month.
If Valdosta State offers Meehan the job, it will be the end of a lengthy
career at JSU. He started as a biology instructor there in the 1970s. It's also
where he received his undergraduate and master's degrees.
Meehan said a search firm hired by the school approached him about the job in
March. He had an initial interview Sunday in Atlanta.
Meehan told JSU trustees about the job during a closed session of Monday's
Though Meehan has turned down other offers since he became president, he said
he's considering this one because he has accomplished what he set out to do as
Meehan also is raising a young family — twin 13-year-old boys, and a
nine-year-old daughter. If selected for the new job, he could draw both a salary
from Valdosta State and a retirement check from JSU.
"I know by 2010 we'll make our 10,000 goal for students," Meehan said
Thursday, noting an enrollment goal he outlined when took the job in 1999. JSU
also has more accredited programs than any regional university in Alabama,
Valdosta State has around 11,200 students and is near the Florida-Georgia
border. It has 56 undergraduate programs and 45 graduate programs, including
three doctoral degrees. Several of its programs are nationally accredited.
The school has a budget of more than $100 million and employs 1,500 people.
Cindy Tori, chair of Valdosta State's Presidential Search and Screen
Committee, said the school began its search in January after the current
president announced his retirement in November. She would not answer questions
Thursday about what the university wants from its new leader.
A job posting on the school's Web site emphasizes experience, but shows signs
the university wants to grow.
Valdosta State wants "a demonstrated commitment to progressive vision and
implementation of change, including future growth … in terms of population,
finance, research, technology, facilities and scholarship."
Valdosta State also wants someone who is committed to raising money for the
Under Meehan, enrollment at Jacksonville State increased in the school's
distance-learning programs. The school now has 2,901 "distance only" students,
according to Meehan's resume.
JSU's enrollment overall has grown 12.8 percent, from 8,048 total students in
1999 to 9,077 in 2007. The school also has completed a series of building and
renovation projects, and is in the midst of a $25 million fundraising effort.
Meehan will compete with five other semi-finalists. Asked if plagiarism
allegations last August might hurt his chances, Meehan said he thought they
wouldn't if evaluators studied the case closely. He said he was not directly
responsible for the plagiarism.
In that case, material published under Meehan's byline in two weekly
newspapers owned by The Star's parent company included material lifted from
third-party Web sites, without credit.
The university said retired JSU spokesman Al Harris regularly wrote the
columns, which were credited in the newspapers to Meehan. Harris no longer works
for the university. The columns still are published under Meehan's name, with
other contributors often credited.
Trustees contacted Thursday said they would hate to lose Meehan, but that
they understand where he's coming from.
"He has been a clear and consistent voice for the university both as
president and as a faculty member for the past 21 years," Board Chairman Jim
Bennett said. "We understand that he is fully vested in the Alabama retirement
system, and a similar position in Georgia would greatly enhance his income
Board member Ronnie Smith said he would "certainly be disappointed if we lost
him." He praised Meehan's contributions to the community.
"All I know is I don't want him to go and I'm prejudiced because I love Dr.
Bill and his family; but I also want to do what's best for him," board member
Jamie Etheredge said.
About Dan Whisenhunt
Dan Whisenhunt covers K-12 schools and higher
education for The Star.