Each year, as many as four exemplary educators or education supporters may be inducted into the prestigious College of Education Hall of Fame sponsored by the College of Education’s Board of Advisors at The University of Alabama. The inductees are chosen because of their contributions to the education profession through a rigorous process after having been nominated by their peers who are current donors to the College of Education.

Founded in 2012, by the College of Education Board of Advisors of The University of Alabama, the Educator Hall of Fame honors the accomplishments of distinguished leaders in the field of education or dedicated supporters of education.

Deadline for submitting nominations for the 2024 College of Education Hall of Fame is October 1, 2023

Criteria for Selection to the College of Education Hall of Fame

  • To be considered, a nominee must be either retired from paid, full-time employment in education; be 65 or older.  Post-humous nominations are also considered.
  • Nominees who are selected will be of character consistent with the standards of the their profession.
  • Nominees must be a graduate of the College of Education or College of Education faculty member.
  • Nominees will be selected based on their displays of originality and creativity in making outstanding contributions either to the practice, promotion, or scholarship of their profession, or the well-being of others.

Guidelines for nominating a candidate to the College of Education Hall of Fame

  1. A nomination may be completed electronically or by mail.
  2. A nomination must include the nominee’s name, title, address, telephone number, email address, the name and contact information for the primary nominator and the supporting nominator (if applicable).
  3. A nomination must submit a summary of accomplishments with text maximums of around 155 words, or 825 characters (roughly).
  4. A nomination must include a narrative that briefly explains how the nominee meets the criteria for induction into the Hall of Fame and why the person qualifies for this honor.
  5. The submission may also include a letter seconding the nomination, the nominee’s résumé, and up to two additional letters of support at the nominator’s discretion.

Deadline for submitting nominations is October 1, 2023. When the nominations are received, they will be compiled and directed to the Hall of Fame Committee appointed by the Board of Advisors Chair. The Committee will review the nominations based on criteria for selection in each category and will forward their recommendations to the College of Education Board of Advisors for review and final decision.  All nominations will be considered for a period of three years.

Please send nominations to rebecca.ballard@ua.edu or mail to Box 870231, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.  (Attn:  Rebecca Ballard).

If you have additional questions, please email rebecca.ballard@ua.edu.

College of Education Hall of Fame Inductees

Mary Ann and James Blackmon (2019)

The commitment to the Tuscaloosa community by Mary Ann and the late James Blackmon, Jr. has been long and enduring. Both educators, they brought strength and dedication to their practices that translated into students who would go on to make their own marks in the world. 

Mary Ann Blackmon has been described as a strong, talented woman and a naturally gifted instructor with a stern and no-nonsense demeanor who had a genuine love and concern for her students. 

She taught elementary education for 25 years in the Tuscaloosa City Schools. Initially, she taught in Stillman Heights Elementary School, a Title I school. She was then transferred Skyland Elementary School as the first African American teacher at the school. Her excellent teaching and leadership skills at Skyland empowered her to head many educational leadership roles over her career including the mentoring and development of young teachers. 

In addition to teaching, she was the owner/operator of Mrs. B’s Music Studio where she provided free piano lessons to hundreds of students ages 5-18 for over 50 years with two pianos and one organ in an upstairs studio above her husband’s barbershop. 

She was inducted into the Jacksonville State Teacher Hall of Fame in 1983, was named Educator of the Year by the Christian Study Center of Alabama in 1984, and was awarded the Outstanding Service in Music Ministry Award from Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church as well as from the Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church Choirs of Tuscaloosa and the Outstanding Citizenship Award in 2017 by the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. 

She served as the coordinator/instructor of the 1st Thessalonians 5:17 Prayer and Bible Group for 38 years. She was also a key organizer of the first Volunteer Association at DCH Regional Medical Center, a volunteer musician and religious instructor at nursing/healthcare facilities for over ten years, a volunteer music ministry at the VA Medical Center, and a teacher/mentor at First Baptist Church. 

The late James Blackmon, Jr. was a business teacher in the Tuscaloosa County School System and then a full-time instructor at C.A. Fredd Trade School/Technical College.

Mr. Blackmon recognized the need to provide a barbering/cosmetology school for African Americans in Tuscaloosa in the 1960s. He opened the first private barbering school in 1964. He was then hired as a full-time barbering instructor at C.A. Fredd Trade School/Technical College. During his tenure there, he and his students competed and won several barbering/cosmetology accolades. He kept check on all of his students after they graduated well beyond the mandated five years. His students looked to him as an educator, businessman, role model, and father figure. 

Mr. Blackmon was also the owner of Blackmon’s Barber Style Salon for more than 50 years. He was also a link in the community, especially for social justice activists, youths, and fledging black-owned businesses in Tuscaloosa for over 65 years. He also befriended and helped freedom fighters such as UA student James Hood, one of the first African American students to enroll at UA during the 1960s. 

Mr. Blackmon was named Educator of the Year in 1984 by the Alabama Education Association. He was also recognized as the Tuscaloosa Family of the Year and National Family of the Year in 1986 by the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, Inc. The city of Tuscaloosa named him Outstanding Role Model in 2017. During the first Juneteenth Celebration (a festival held on the 19th of June by African Americans to commemorate emancipation from slavery) in Tuscaloosa in 2017, Blackmon was one of two individuals who received an “Unsung Hero” Award. 

Mary Ann and James have been avid fans of Shelton State, Stillman College, and The University of Alabama. As a couple, they attended UA football and basketball games since 1977. 

Dr. Harold L. Bishop (2012)

The late Dr. Harold Bishop, professor of educational administration in the department of educational leadership, policy and technology studies, was one of the first African-American faculty members at The University of Alabama. He was affiliated with the College of Education from 1974 to his death in 2005. Bishop also provided guidance to nearly 100 school systems across the state of Alabama in his lifetime. He served as co-principal Investigator of the Alabama Superintendents’ Academy, an organization that provides leadership training to aspiring school superintendents in Alabama. Bishop also served as the director of Tuscaloosa City Schools Leadership Program, implemented to prepare current and future teachers to be leaders in the evolving field of education. In 2005, the alumni association of the College of Education awarded Bishop and his family the 2005-2006 Academic Excellence Award, as well as a donation to the Harold L. Bishop Scholarship Fund. Friends, students and colleagues of Bishop said his long-time commitment and love for teaching, research and service was unquestioned and will always be remembered.

Marcia Burke (2020)

Dr. Marcia Burke has dedicated her life to improving the lives of Alabama children through education for the past 48 years.  Dr. Burke started her career as an elementary teacher for Pike County Schools. This was followed by 15 years of teaching in the Tuscaloosa City School system where she taught gifted education, social studies, computer education, and English.  While teaching, Dr. Burke continued her journey of lifelong education by earning multiple degrees and certificates from UA.  The additional degrees and certificates opened the door for Dr. Burke to serve in leadership roles in both Tuscaloosa County and Tuscaloosa City Schools.  Her positions included Principal, Alberta Elementary; Principal; Crestmont Elementary, Assistant Superintendent, Tuscaloosa County Schools; and Assistant Superintendent, Tuscaloosa City Schools.

After 34 years devoted to K-12 education, Dr. Burke retired to work as a consultant for Burke Enterprises, LLC where she assists systems with policy development, strategic planning, employee evaluation and HR services, professional development for faculty and staff, and grant evaluation and technical assistance.  Dr. Burke’s clients include more than 64 Alabama school systems, The University of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, and the Alabama Department of Commerce. Dr. Burke is a highly sought after in-service trainer and speaker. Organizations she has worked with include the Alabama Association of School Boards, Alabama Council of Leadership Development, Alabama State Department of Education, East Alabama Regional Inservice Center, Tuscaloosa Public Library, The University of Alabama College of Education, Council of Leaders of Alabama Schools, and numerous schools, local, state, and regional civic clubs, churches, and community groups.

Dr. Mary Jane Caylor (2023)

Dr. Mary Jane Caylor retired as dean of workforce development at J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College in 2016. Dr. Caylor served as the executive director of Big Spring Partners from October 2005 through September 2012. She also served as the executive director of Huntsville’s bicentennial celebration in 2005 and was a member of the Alabama State Board of Education, representing District VIII for four terms. She was elected to this position in 1994 and completed her service in January 2011. Public schools benefited from her leadership in the creation and implementation of the Alabama Reading Initiative and Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative.

Dr. Caylor earned a B.S. degree in elementary education and a master of arts degree in special education, both from The University of Alabama. She later earned a Class AA certification in special education. She earned her Ed.D. in educational administration and planning from The University of Alabama.

Dr. Caylor worked as a juvenile police detective with the City of Huntsville and as a juvenile probation officer in Madison County from 1964-1965.

In her many professional roles, Dr. Caylor taught on the elementary school level and as an adjunct professor with the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Athens State College. She also worked as an assistant professor in the department of special education with Troy State University. She served as a visiting professor with Alabama A&M University’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Caylor additionally served as director of special education, assistant superintendent of general services, and from 1982-1991, she was superintendent of the Huntsville City Schools. Caylor was named superintendent of the year by the Alabama Council of PTAs in 1990. In 1991, she was the Alabama finalist for superintendent of the year presented by the American Association of School Administrators and was and the Alabama 1991 Superintendent of the Year.

Caylor served on the recruitment team for the Tennessee Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). The team was responsible for job recruitment and relocations from the states of Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Colorado. The team recruitment activities were for six years after Congress approved the 2005 BRAC. Her primary task was the education presentations for the team. Her presentations included K-14, community and technical colleges, four-year universities, as well as private and parochial schools in the northeast areas of Alabama and southern Tennessee.

During her contract with the City of Huntsville as executive director of the Huntsville bicentennial event, she also had a tenure with Big Spring Partners, Inc., a nonprofit established for the revitalization and renaissance of downtown Huntsville. She was instrumental in the creation and establishment of four prestigious memorials in the area, serving as project manager of the following: the Bicentennial Children’s Fountain and Park; the Tom Thrasher Fountain and Memorial in Big Spring Park; the Huntsville Rotary Plaza and Fountain; and the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial.

Dr. Caylor organized and managed two community leader trips to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina, to learn from the successes of those communities in downtown redevelopment.

She was also part of the first Leadership Alabama class, a charter member of Leadership Alabama Board of Directors, former member of the Huntsville Rotary Club and member of Rotary Board of Directors, a past member of the Board of Directors of the Huntsville Rotary Club, an honorary life member of the Alabama PTA, and the 2010 Recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award.

She established the Huntsville City Schools Foundation and was past commissioner and chair of the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission Space & Rocket Center.

Dr. Caylor is the mother of one daughter, who is a data analyst for the Huntsville City Schools, and has two grandchildren.

Dr. Edward Henry Cleino (2015)

As chair of Music Education at UA from 1949-1979, Cleino expanded the undergraduate program, began both the masters and doctoral  programs, personally advised music education majors, and led his department to national recognition.

Cleino was named professor emeritus at UA in 1980. In recognition of his contributions, he was presented with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2004.

As a pioneer in the use of television to expand music education in Alabama, Cleino, who died in April 2015, created “Music Time,” which he wrote, produced and personally delivered from 1956 to 1972. Students from Verner Elementary School served as his studio class. By providing music lessons through this innovative method to thousands of children for 17 years, Cleino received the Alabama Educational Television Network Service Award in 1973.

During World War II, Cleino served in the Army, where he reached the rank of captain and earned the Bronze Star.

Cleino was married to Dr. Elizabeth Cleino, known informally as Bettie Anne, for 72 years. Cleino’s daughter, Anne Witt, a music instructor at UA, is founder of Strings in Schools.

“We are very proud of Dad’s recognition,” Witt said. “He inspired us in so many ways. Dad’s unwavering Christian faith was the foundation for his life, and his integrity was evident to all who knew him. His innovative professional philosophy was a great model for us. We often heard ‘look around and see what you can do to help. How can you make things better?’ His influence will continue to live on through us children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Adolph Crew (2016)

The late Dr. Adolph Brandon Crew was a professor of secondary social science education in the College of Education at The University of Alabama from 1958 until his retirement in 1987. Among many honors, he received the 1978 award for Outstanding Commitment to Teaching, given by the National Alumni Association of The University of Alabama.  He dedicated his entire career to education encouraging students to extend learning beyond the classroom. He was an early adopter of experiential education and thus, he would take students to numerous locations — Tannehill Ironworks Historical Park, Bankhead National Forest, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, etc. — to experience innovative ways to educate students. He served as the head of many educational organizations, and he worked with students at Tannehill Park where he used the facility and associated history to have his students do historical research there by digging in the artifact-rich area to find examples of past life.

Paul Hubbert (2012)

Dr. Paul Hubbert, former executive secretary-treasurer of the Alabama Education Association, is one of the most prominent advocators for educational excellence and teacher benefits in the state of Alabama. Hubbert served as the executive secretary-treasurer of the Alabama Education Association from 1969 until his recent retirement in 2011. In 1969, he took on the challenge of merging the white teachers’ union with the black teachers’ union, which was under the direction of Joe Reed. Together, Hubbert and Reed transformed the organization from a professional club into a substantial political powerhouse. Their efforts with the Alabama Education Association had an inimitable influence on Alabama politics for more than 40 years. Hubbert built a strong network of political contacts throughout his 42-year term and has an exceptional knowledge of the Alabama Legislature. Before entering the political realm, however, Hubbert served as the superintendent of Troy school systems and held several educational positions in Tuscaloosa. Hubbert’s unique passion for the betterment of education is long lasting, and his legacy continues to inspire.

Autherine Lucy Foster (2016)

Autherine Lucy Foster was the first African-American student to attend The University of Alabama in 1956. On February 3, 1956, Lucy attended her first class as a graduate student in library science, becoming the first African American ever admitted to a white public school or university in Alabama. Campus riots broke out three days later, and the university removed Lucy for her own safety. Her expulsion was officially annulled in 1988. A year later, she again enrolled at the University, joining her daughter, Grazia Foster, who was also a student at the Capstone by that time. They graduated together in 1992 with Autherine earning a master’s degree in elementary education and Grazia earning a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance. The University named an endowed fellowship in her honor that year and dedicated the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower in 2010, honoring her as one of three individuals who pioneered desegregation at The University of Alabama.

Lee Freeman (2020)

With 40 years of experience in education, Freeman served in many roles at UA including program coordinator of elementary education, graduate faculty, instructor, and teacher-in-residence.

In the K-12 system, Dr. Freeman served as reading coach at Verner and Rock Quarry Elementary Schools in Tuscaloosa; curriculum coordinator and teacher at Rock Quarry Elementary School in Tuscaloosa; curriculum coordinator and multi-age grade teacher at Stafford Global Studies Center Magnet School in Tuscaloosa; teacher at Carrollton Elementary in Carrollton; teacher at Hambrick Junior High School in Houston, Texas; and teacher at Gordo Elementary School in Gordo.

Dr. Freeman does not stop teaching once our teachers have their own classrooms. Instead, he continues to mentor them, ensuring that teaching is at the cutting-edge of research. He has also published two articles and made three presentations about this program to share the research and practice with other universities who may want to emulate the great work at UA.

Dr. Ethel Hall (2016)

The late Dr. Ethel Hall was a devoted educator and is remembered as the first African-American woman elected to the Alabama State Board of Education. She served 24 years, including 10 as the Board’s vice president. Her dedication and service to this Board earned her the honor of being named vice-president emeritus. She co-authored her challenges and contributions through the publication of the book, My Journey, describing her life. Additionally, she was employed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, the Hale County Training School, the Neighborhood Youth Corps and taught at Westfield High School, the University of Montevallo, and The University of Alabama. Her legacy of service touched countless organizations and associations including: The National Association of State Boards of Education; The Alabama Association of School Boards; Leadership Birmingham; Leadership Alabama; The American Alliance for Health; Physical Education; Recreation; and Dance; the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Rotary International; A+ Foundation and Partnership, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and she was named Outstanding Alumnus of Alabama A&M University.  She impacted countless individuals and dedicated her life to educating and serving others.

John Cody Hall (2019)

Dr. John Cody Hall was the son of newspaper journalists, an Eagle Scout, a captain in the United States Army Rangers, and a veteran of the Vietnam War. Professionally, Dr. Hall was a biologist, a geologist, a researcher and author, an environmentalist, a living history actor, and a museum director. Most of all, throughout his career he was a teacher. As one friend said of him, “He learned every single thing he could, and then he explained it to the rest of us.” Over the years, the “rest of us” included children, high school and college students, professional peers, and friends. Dr. Hall had a gift for taking natural processes and ideas and explaining them in a way that any layman could understand. He preferred a hands-on method for teaching; to show, not tell. He would teach biology in the woods and streams of the state; and often along the highway as one traveled from place to place. Some of his best lessons were delivered using the flora and fauna at a roadside rest stop. 

Dr. Hall designed the first summer expeditions in archaeology and paleontology through The University of Alabama’s Museum of Natural History. These expeditions were resident experiences for high school students and adults. On these “digs,” he taught high school students and often university researchers to view our world from past perspectives. These expeditions continue 40 years after he first planned and implemented the first excursion. 

Thousands of students have participated and learned from Dr. Hall, and many have entered professional fields closely related to the content specific to the excavation experience or have benefited from the life lessons taught throughout the weeks of the expedition. Geology was one of Dr. Hall’s passions. He would gather students to study soil and rock formations and analyze their characteristics; not only from the pure science perspective but prompting students and adults to examine the effect the formation had on the past and current inhabitants of the land. Through all of these experiences, Dr. Hall used his creative story telling and entertaining descriptive language to cause us to ponder and to define our place — our Alabama. 

In the later years of his life, Dr. Hall concentrated his efforts on educational outreach for children and adults in collaboration with state universities, the Bartram Trail Conference, Friends of Horseshoe Bend, the National Park Service, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and many more agencies too numerous to mention. He was charged by the University of West Alabama to create and direct the operations of the Black Belt Museum in Livingston, Alabama. The museum features the arts, culture, and natural history of the Black Belt. He wrote natural history interpretive programs for the Alabama Historical Commission. Ever teaching, his living history presentations as William Bartram and a War of 1812 militiaman added personal dimension to historical expeditions throughout the state. 

In addition, Dr. Hall wrote and spoke extensively about the naturalist’s perspective for Alabama history, its land, and its rivers. Two of his books related to the rivers of Alabama and to the long-leaf pine were recognized for awards by the Alabama Wildlife Federation, the Southeast Environmental Law Center, and the Southeastern Library Association. A lasting legacy for our state is the work done by Dr. Hall on the Department of Archives and History museum exhibit entitled, “Alabama Voices.” As thousands of tourists and Alabama school children visit the museum exhibit, his “teacher voice” and our state’s story will continue to be heard through his words and his personal narration of “The Story Begins with the Land.” 

Dr. Hall is noted for his never ending passion for teaching and learning, for his creative methods and practices to define environments where learning thrives, for his collaborative efforts to bring many voices to the table to assure authentic and engaging learning opportunities, for his patience in administrative efforts that allowed established programs to thrive and for new ones to be formulated and finally, for his love of knowledge and love for “the land” that he inspired in others.

Shelley Jones (2015)

Jones taught in Tuscaloosa City Schools, where she served as a teacher at Northington Elementary for 14 years and a principal at Woodland Forrest for more than 20 years. She retired in 1995 before serving on the city school board for eight years.

Jones teaches a seminar in the UA Honors College and serves on the boards of DCH Foundation and the Community Foundation for West Alabama.

Jones was one of the first members of the College of Education’s Board of Advisors. She continues to serve on the board of the Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre, a program that was created when she was a principal at Woodland Forrest. Additionally, Jones is on the task force for the Alabama School Readiness Alliance to promote pre-K throughout the state.

Jones, who earned a master’s degree from UA, moved to Tuscaloosa in 1962 with her husband, Tom, a former UA law professor.

“I feel very fortunate about the progress that’s been made in Tuscaloosa,” Jones said. “It’s been amazing to see education grow here, and to still be a part of it and this community is truly rewarding.”

Jeanice Kirkland (2012)

Jeanice Kirkland earned her degree in elementary education from The University of Alabama in 1964 and received her Master’s in Education from Troy University in 1975. In 1991, Kirkland was the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Education Award given by the College of Education. Among many other significant leadership positions and honors, Kirkland was named one of the 31 most outstanding women at The University of Alabama as part of a centennial celebration of women being admitted to the University. She retired in 2009 after a long career in teaching with Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Andalusia public schools. Kirkland served as the national president of the University of Alabama Alumni Association, where she became only the second woman in history to be chosen as president. Her efforts brought one of the largest increases in scholarship funding for students in University history. Kirkland is also active in many other local and university service organizations. Kirkland possesses an endearing and inspirational desire to provide guidance and encouragement, whenever possible, to those in need.

Marian A. Loftin (2014)

Loftin’s dedication to the well-being of children and youth is apparent in her lifelong commitment to advocate for children and families at the local, state and national level.

Loftin grew up in Birmingham, the oldest of 6 girls, and attended The University of Alabama where she met and married her college sweetheart, Jim Loftin. She spent the first 20 years of their marriage as mother of four and classroom teacher, two “vocations” that she cherished. Her classroom experience and her teacher training made her realize family and community experiences determine the well-being of children throughout their lives.

When Loftin left the classroom, she was employed by The University of Alabama in external affairs in the Dothan Regional Office, then as assistant director of government relations in Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. She returned to Dothan as executive director of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. When appointed by the governor to be director of the state of Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention/The Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, she left the position at the Chamber.

Actively involved in child and family concerns, Loftin served on the founding board of the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center in Dothan, the first “one-stop” for human services in the state. Other counties stepped up to meet the needs of their communities using that model. There are now 13 Family Resource Centers located throughout the state in the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers.

In 2004, Gov. Bob Riley appointed Loftin to his Task Force to Strengthen Alabama Families. At the state level, she serves on the boards of the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers and the Children First Alliance of Alabama. She was the first recipient of the Alabama Child Champion Lifetime Achievement Award, which now bears her name.

In 2007, nominated by Riley, Loftin received the National Health and Human Services Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Work in Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect in Alabama. She has been named Distinguished Alumna of The University of Alabama (1988), Outstanding Alumna, Troy University Dothan (1993) and Distinguished Alumna of John Carroll Class of 1954 (1999). She is also member of the Order of The XXXI and Women of the Capstone at The University of Alabama.

She and her husband earned the Henry and Julia Tutwiler Distinguished Service Award and the ODK Summercell Award from The University of Alabama.

Michael Malone (2020)

Dr. Michael E. “Mike” Malone is a former university president who served as executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).

Under his leadership at ACHE, the state’s unified budget recommendation was passed with the support of a unified and united higher education community. His leadership gained national attention for the state through his appointment to the American College board of directors. As head of ACHE, Dr. Malone represented higher education as chair of the Alabama Humanities Foundation Board, a trustee on the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Board, and as a member of the State Articulation and General Studies Committee.

His work history includes serving as president of Troy State University at Dothan and vice chancellor of the Troy State University System, as well as professor of educational leadership in Dothan from 1996-2002. 

From 1989-1996, Malone served as the associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, assistant professor of history and assistant professor of education leadership at Western Carolina University. He was director of admissions and assistant professor of educational leadership at Old Dominion University from 1981-1989. He served as the assistant dean of admission services, adjunct professor of behavioral studies, and lecturer in the College of Commerce and Business Administration at The University of Alabama from 1974-1981.

Dr. William A. Meehan (2023)

In 1968, William Arthur Meehan first came to Jacksonville State University as a student and “fell in love with the institution.” Since then, he transitioned from the classroom to the “oval office,” where he has diligently served the faculty, staff, and students as president for nearly 16 years. After dedicating 47 years of his life to JSU – 40 as an employee – Meehan retired from the university in 2015.

After completing his B.S. in biology in 1972 at JSU, Meehan returned for his master’s degree and worked as a graduate assistant in the admissions office. “I had great mentorship here with the faculty in the biology department and other administrators,” he said.

Upon graduating with his M.S. in biology in 1976, he was approached by Dr. Theron Montgomery and asked to stay as a full-time biology instructor.

The road between the classroom and the presidency consisted of a few stops along the way. Meehan served in several other roles including coordinator of medical technology, director of academic advisement, assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, acting vice president for academic affairs, associate vice president for academic and student affairs, and acting vice president for institutional advancement.

In 1999, Meehan earned his doctorate in higher education administration from The University of Alabama. On July 1, 1999, Dr. William A. Meehan became the 11th president of JSU.

Meehan and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to campus with the youngest and most children of any other JSU president: 5-year-old twin boys, Drew and Will, and baby Carol Grace. The President’s Home had to be childproofed and renovated to accommodate the family of five. The Meehan children have called JSU home for most of their lives.

“They went to every university event that we went to,” Meehan said. “In order to keep the family lifestyle, whether it was a basketball game or a community event, we would include them and would all go.” Meehan fondly recalls how his children would often ask, “Daddy, are you speaking again? Do we have to listen to you again?”

Like so many other couples, Dr. and Mrs. Meehan first met at JSU. “Jax State brought us together,” she stated.

After transferring from Samford University to JSU as an undergraduate student, the Elizabeth Stevens met Meehan, who had been asked by a friend to encourage her to come to JSU to finish her degree. She finished her undergraduate degree in education, focusing on social sciences, at JSU in 1989 and went on to earn her master’s in counseling from the University of Montevallo.

Although an avid horseback rider after graduate school and a marksman, Meehan has had little time for hobbies with his 24/7 schedule of running the university and raising a family. 

“When I went into this business, it was to teach and to be with students,” Meehan said. “I think helping students reach their goals and being able to add value to the experience of all those at the university – to the students, to the faculty and staff – if I can say I’ve added value to that experience, that’s been the most rewarding part.”

Of the major academic changes during Meehan’s time at JSU, perhaps the biggest revolution has been the influx of technology into the classroom. Recalling a time when slide rules and overhead projectors were cutting edge technology, students and teachers now incorporate the latest tablets and gadgets into learning, giving students the skills needed in today’s technologically driven society.

With numerous conference championships won under his leadership, Meehan also witnessed much athletic growth in the university, especially in regard to the Gamecocks’ breathtaking football performance in Fall 2013 and the excitement of the current season. It was under his administration that the JSU athletic program became a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC).

There is no doubt that Jacksonville State University is a better place because of Dr. and Mrs. Meehan and their family. They have left a lasting legacy upon JSU and the numerous students who have had the privilege of attending the university under the Meehan administration. 

Dr. Jayne Meyer (2012)

Dr. Jayne Meyer earned her doctoral degree from The University of Alabama in 1970. She has taught at both high school and college levels in Illinois, Alabama and Oregon. Meyer worked at the Tuscaloosa County Schools central office for seven years, first in physical education and later in federal programs. She then moved on to work for the Alabama Department of Education. There, under contract through Montgomery County Schools, Meyer worked on the First-Year Teacher Pilot Program based at UAB. In 1975, she took a job with the Federal Programs Section of the State Department of Education. After five years, she transferred from Federal Programs to Teacher Education where she served as a Teacher Education Advisor. Meyer still holds this position, although her title has changed to director of the Office of Teaching and Leading. She has had the opportunity to work with six different State Department Superintendents while affiliated with the State Department of Education. She has also served on the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and has recently been asked to help guide its transition to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Meyer has given some thought to retirement, but she says it does not seem as appealing as continuing to work in the exciting field of education.

Judy Merritt (2016)

The late Judy Miles Merritt, the daughter of educators, began attending The University of Alabama when she was just 16. She began her career in higher education as a counselor of admissions at then Jefferson State Junior College in 1965, the opening year of the college. She would later hold positions at Florida International University as vice president of student affairs. She returned home to Alabama in 1979 to Jefferson State Junior College as president, where she served for 35 years. Her appointment by Gov. Fob James marked the first time a woman had been named president of a college in Alabama. When Merritt began her tenure at Jefferson State Community College, the College consisted of one campus located in the eastern area of Jefferson County. Through her vision and amazing ability to form partnerships, today JSCC has campuses in four counties furthering her dream of opening doors of higher education for all. Upon her retirement in June 2014, she remarked that while the dream for many has been achieved, the fight for pathways to education, equality, and inclusion continues.

Dr. Jane Moore (2018)

Moore graduated from Dozier High School in 1953 and received her Doctor of Education in physical education from UA in 1969.

Moore was a recipient in 2016 of The Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the Auburn Alumni Association, for her contributions to education at Auburn and her advocacy of intercollegiate athletics at the school. Moore was the first woman to serve on the Auburn University Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics and has served on multiple athletics committees for men’s and women’s sports over the last 40-plus years.

In 2003, the field of the Auburn Softball Complex was named the “Jane B. Moore Field” to honor her long-time service to Auburn athletics.

Moore established the Kindergarten Motor Development Program in conjunction with the Auburn College of Education and Auburn City School System. This venture was a one-of-a-kind testing and remediation program for young children who were participating in their early motor skills and provided practical experience for Auburn University students enrolled in her classes.

“The College of Education notification of my induction into the Alabama Educator Hall of Fame prompted me to reflect on my doctoral studies in The College of Education,” Moore said. “There is no way to express in a few words the value of those years in the development of my career as an educator. This recognition by The University of Alabama and the College of Education is very meaningful to me and very deeply appreciated.

Dr. Joseph B. Morton (2014)

Dr. Joseph B. Morton was born July 20, 1946, in Birmingham. He grew up in Pleasant Grove and graduated from Hueytown High School. His first university experience was at Auburn University, where, in 1969, he earned his Bachelor of Science in secondary education. After graduating, Morton taught in the Jefferson County School District. In 1972 he decided to go back to school. As a graduate research assistant at The University of Alabama, he earned his master’s in 1973 and his doctorate in 1974, both in educational administration.

When Morton was only 27, he became the Sumter County Board of Education superintendent. He remained in this position for four years and then went on to become the superintendent for the Sylacauga City Board of Education. In 1995, Morton became the deputy state superintendent of education for the Instructional Services of Alabama Department of Education.

On July 13, 2004, Morton was selected by the Alabama State Board of Education to be Alabama’s 36th state superintendent of education. He served in this capacity for seven years. Prior to the appointment as state superintendent of education, he served for eight years as deputy state superintendent of education.

In these roles, Morton guided the creation and implementation of the Alabama Reading Initiative; the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative; the Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide (Distance Education) Initiative; and First Choice (a new graduation plan for Alabama’s students).

While Morton served as state superintendent of education, Alabama showed significant academic gains in reading and math assessment scores with Alabama’s fourth graders scoring at the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress for the first time in Alabama history. Alabama is considered a national leader in student nutrition during his superintendency. In 2008, Morton was given a national award by the State Educational Technology Directors Association: the “State Policymaker Award.” In 2010, Alabama had the largest gain in the nation in Advanced Placement enrollments and students scoring 3-5 on AP exams and had the third highest gain in the nation on increasing the high school graduation rate.

Morton retired as state superintendent of education on Sept, 1, 2011. On Feb. 1, 2012, Morton became the chairman and president of the Business Education Alliance of Alabama.

Dr. Jo Beth Newton (2023)

Dr. Jo Beth (Jodi) Drysdale Newton, age 69, passed away on September 4, 2022. She was a resident of Homewood, Alabama. 

Jodi found great joy in family and friends. She loved visits to the lake and she loved reading and board games. Her kind and loyal spirit, along with her deep faith, were with her all of her days. She also loved her work. She taught in the educational leadership department at Samford University, and previously served as the associate dean of the Orlean Beeson School of Education as well as director of doctoral programs and interim chair of the department of educational leadership. 

Prior to going to Samford, Newton began at Homewood as the system’s assistant superintendent for instruction in 1993. Newton was promoted to superintendent 24 hours after previous superintendent Byron Nelson’s retirement announcement when she was unanimously approved by the school board. After Newton’s promotion, Homewood schools began a study to determine the need to build a new middle school to replace the existing one or renovate. It was decided to build. The project would be the largest of her tenure and not only came in under a tight schedule, but also under budget. It was the first school in the United States to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and opened to students at the conclusion of winter break in 2005. 

Newton’s other activities during her tenure included election as president of the Alabama Association of School Administrators (now known as the School Superintendents of Alabama) in 2000 and being named state Alabama Superintendent of the Year in 2003. 

She served as the superintendent of Homewood City Schools for more than 10 years, and as an assistant superintendent for both Homewood City Schools and Fairfield City Schools. She also cherished her involvement with the Hope Institute, promoting building character into education. She was a long-term member at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood and served in several leadership roles within the church. Her imprint and legacy in the community of Homewood will be long remembered.

Also during Newton’s tenure, the Homewood school system or schools within it received the National School of Character Award, 100 Best Communities for Music Education, the What Parents Want Award, and school recognition for outstanding achievement for at-risk students under No Child Left Behind, State Department of Education, and Governor’s awards. She cited the Homewood system’s mission of every student reaching his or her potentional, which preceded the federal mandate, as helping the system deal with it.

In April 2008, Newton announced her retirement effective June 30.

Jodi grew up in Bessemer, Alabama, and spent most of her life in Homewood. She graduated from Samford University with a B.A. degree and then later an M.A. degree and doctorate degree from The University of Alabama. Her first work was as an English teacher at Bessemer Academy and later at Fairfield High School.

She is survived by her husband, Robert W. Newton; her son and daughter-in-law, Bert and JoAnna Newton; her son and daughter-in-law, Ross and Allison Newton; her brother and his wife, James and Liz Drysdale; her uncle, L.T. Ward; her grandchildren, Reese, Owen, and Hank Newton; Thomas, William, and Patrick Newton; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family.

Dr. Douglas J. Phillips (2023)

Popularly called simply “Dr. Doug,” Doug Phillips is known widely for his adventurous travels in Alabama’s wildlands as creator, producer, and host of the Emmy award-winning public television program Discovering Alabama (for the “Alabama in Space” episode in 2010 and “State Archives” episode in 2019), an educational documentary series that has been bringing viewers the diverse natural wonders of Alabama for almost 40 years.  

Discovering Alabama reaches home audiences exceeding 1 million viewers and is used as an instructional resource in classrooms of every school system in the state. To date, Discovering Alabama has completed more than 100 documentaries on all aspects of Alabama’s natural diversity – forests, rivers, wetlands, wildlife, geology, and more.

Discovering Alabama, the longest-running and most popular locally produced show on Alabama Public Television (APT), appeared in Alabama homes and classrooms in 1985, when Dr. Doug Phillips first invited viewers to “Come along with me as we explore the wild wonders of this land.”

As an environmental educator for the Alabama Museum of Natural History, he knew that the natural world could bridge the disciplines for a cross-curriculum approach to teaching. He also realized that Alabama Public Television, the first statewide educational network in the nation, would be the perfect vehicle for sharing the state’s natural history and natural wonders.

Discovering Alabama programs correlate with the Alabama Course of Study and, with accompanying Teacher Guides, support the teaching of K-12 academic requirements for science, history, social studies, geography, and environmental education. The show is rated by teachers as the educational resource “most frequently used” in Alabama schools and can be found in classrooms of all school systems in the state.

Phillips worked with Troy State University and continued to develop the program with grant funding from Mobil Oil and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He eventually returned to The University of Alabama under the Alabama Museum of Natural History. 

Currently, Discovering Alabama is jointly produced by the museum and the University, in cooperation with the Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio. Additional sponsors have included the Alabama Wildlife Federation. 

In addition to producing Discovering Alabama, Dr. Phillips developed many environmental education curricula for Alabama schools, including the “Discovering Alabama Model School Program.” He has pioneered many conservation programs to protect Alabama lands and waters, including the nationally recognized land trust the Alabama Forever Wild program.  More than two decades after its establishment by constitutional amendment in 1992, the Forever Wild Land Trust (FWLT) has secured more than 284,000 acres of land in Alabama for public use.

He also authored the award-winning books Discovering Alabama Wetlands and Discovering Alabama Forests, together with the supplementary Teacher Guides for each of the Discovering Alabama documentaries.  

Today, Discovering Alabama is considered the “flagship program” about Alabama and, proudly, it is a home-grown success produced right here in the Tuscaloosa community. 

Sandra H. Ray (2018)

Ray is a native of Tuscaloosa County and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from UA in 1967.

Ray is a former elected member and president of the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education. In 1995, she was elected to serve on the Alabama State Board of Education to represent District 7, which included Tuscaloosa, and served for 14 years.

During her tenure on the Alabama State Board of Education, Alabama public schools have benefitted from the creation and implementation of the Alabama Reading Initiative and the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, among other programs.

Ray has served on the UA President’s Community Advisory Council and the UA Teacher Education Council and is a founding member, past president, and current member of the UA College of Education Board of Advisors.

She was one of the first two women to become directors of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and later served as vice president.

Melba Richardson (2019)

Melba Bolton Richardson grew up in Crestview, Florida, attending Okaloosa County Public Schools. A 1964 graduate of Crestview High School, she was a class and SGA officer, played first chair clarinet, was head majorette, and was voted most talented her senior year. She attended Huntingdon College before transferring to The University of Alabama, where she received her B.S. in Secondary Education English with a minor in history. She later received her M.Ed. and Certification in Administration from Auburn University, Montgomery, 1989 and 1997, respectively. Melba knew she wanted to be a teacher from the time she was twelve years old.

Melba began her teaching career at Tuscaloosa Junior High School, where she had also done her student teaching. When she and her husband, Bill, moved to East Tennessee, she taught at Maryville Junior High School, where she was named Teacher of the Year. She began her teaching career at Saint James School in Montgomery in 1983, teaching English and serving as department chair. She became middle school principal in 1989, transforming the middle school into a nationally acclaimed model. Melba served as Academic Dean in 1998 before becoming Head of School in 2008. During her tenure as Head, Saint James became the innovative educational model for the state and nation and earned the number one ranking of independent schools in Montgomery.

Melba has received numerous awards and honors through the years. She represented Alabama at The National Middle School Association Network and made presentations throughout the country on educational topics. She has worked tirelessly for both public and independent schools around the country, often providing inservice for faculty and staff. Melba was the only independent school representative the State Superintendent’s Advisory Board. She also represented Alabama at the Getty Museum opening in Los Angeles. She was the first independent school administrator to serve on the board of CLAS, the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. She also served as President of The Alabama Association of Middle Level Administrators. Melba serves on UA’s College of Education Advisory Board and served as chair. She also serves on The Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers, and chairs The Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts. She also serves on Mary Ellen’s Hearth Board, a facility for homeless women. She was recently inducted into the prestigious Women of the Capstone. Melba was honored in 2015 by the Alabama Senate as well as the city of Montgomery with resolutions honoring her contributions to education. The Alabama Association of Independent Schools awarded her a Lifetime Leadership Award in 2015 and she was instrumental in the merger of AAIS and AISA. The Saint James Board of Directors created the Melba Richardson Leadership Award in 2015, given at graduation each year. The board also named The Melba Richardson Middle School in her honor for her dedicated service to Saint James and her contributions to middle level education throughout the country. In 2017, she was inducted into the AISA Hall of Fame. 

Melba’s innovation became a hallmark of her leadership. She has never believed in status quo and always strived to the be the pacesetter for excellence. National recognition came to the school with their partnership with Selma City Schools through arts innovation. Melba still teaches administrators around the state how to implement the arts in their schools. She implemented the middle school concepts at Saint James and created the first true middle school in Montgomery. The middle school earned national recognition for their advisory program. She began the all-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs beginning with 3-year-olds. Her impact in the high school was profound, creating 13 pre-college major electives for students. The school earned the Apple Distinguished Award for innovation in technology. She firmly believed professional development was the key for faculty to take the school to a higher level. She often sent them or traveled with them around the country to become skilled in their areas. Melba was instrumental in bringing the Nuts and Bolts Conference for Middle Level Education to Destin, Florida, so that more teachers from the South could attend. More importantly, however, was her ability to interact with students daily, attending their activities, sitting in class or lunch with them, or merely passing them in the halls for encouragement.

Melba serves in numerous volunteer and civic roles and is active at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. She spends her leisure time traveling, reading, writing, gardening, and sewing smocked and French hand sewn dresses. She also still marches as a majorette when her high school alumni band celebrates an anniversary every five years. She promotes kindness and has what she calls a “note writing ministry” to congratulate and encourage others. It is pure joy for her to keep up with her former students. Melba believes our children are this country’s greatest treasure and we have an obligation to properly educate them.

Dr. Marcus L. Roberts, Jr. (2014)

The late Dr. Marcus L. Roberts Jr. grew up in rural Etowah County on a small farm with parents who valued education. When he graduated from Altoona High School as valedictorian in 1944, he was told that Jacksonville State Teacher’s College was offering a scholarship to any valedictorian. He wanted to be a teacher since second grade, so he accepted the full scholarship of $25 per term.

Because he distinguished himself at JSU, he had three job offers upon graduation. His supervisor encouraged him to take the job at Tuscaloosa High School. In 1947, Roberts began his teaching career and touched many lives serving as the chair of the business education department and teaching business and typing until 1954.

One morning while teaching, an office runner interrupted his class with a phone call from John McLure, dean of the UA College of Education, who offered Roberts a job. In 1954, Roberts was appointed registrar and instructor in the College. As registrar, Roberts registered the first black student, Autherine Lucy, while an angry mob gathered outside now Autherine Lucy Hall in an attempt to prevent her from attending class. He served as acting head of curriculum and instruction (1972-1973, 1983) and as acting dean (1981-1982). Roberts worked closely with the State Department of Education to enhance and strengthen teacher education. He served as assistant dean for Student Services and teacher certification officer until his retirement in 1987.

The honors bestowed on Roberts during his career included the Kappa Delta Pi Faculty Appreciation Award, Phi Delta Kappa Professional Educator of the Year Award, Alabama Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Service Award, Penny Allen Award (UA), Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award (UA), the College of Education Society Outstanding Contribution to Education Award, the Alabama Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Community Service Award, and the National Retired Teachers Association of AARP National Retired Educator Award for the state of Alabama.

Jeana Ross (2023)

Throughout her career, Jeana Ross has created, developed, directed, and evaluated programs that have positively impacted Alabama children from birth through graduation. Ross has 28 years of public school and state government experience in Alabama with much of her time devoted to establishing quality early childhood programs.

During her 18 years working in local public schools, she was a teacher and administrator, while also securing more than $7.5 million in grant funds to provide quality programs and support services to low-income children and families. Ross was appointed to serve on the 2007 governor’s task force that was charged with developing an expansion plan for the Alabama First Class Pre-K program. She further influenced its expansion by establishing one of the first Alabama Office of School Readiness Pre-K programs in the Marshall County School System. 

Ross was appointed by the governor of Alabama as secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education in 2012 and served in that capacity on the Governor’s Cabinet until her retirement from state government in June 2020. As a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, Secretary Ross oversaw the Office of School Readiness, Alabama Children’s Policy Councils, the Children First Trust Fund, State Home Visiting, Alabama Integrated Approach to Early Learning (P-3), and the Head Start Collaboration Office. She served in that role under two consecutive Alabama governors. She is a founding member of both the Office of School Readiness Advisory Board and Evaluation Task Force and the Alabama Children’s Cabinet. In 2017, Governor Kay Ivey appointed Secretary Ross to serve as a commissioner for the Education Commission of the States.

As secretary of early childhood education, Ross oversaw the largest expansion of Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program while maintaining the program’s nationally recognized quality standards. The National Institute for Early Education Research recognizes Alabama as one of only four states in the nation to have a state pre-kindergarten program that meets all 10 quality standards benchmarks while demonstrating all 15 essential elements for high-quality pre-K. Secretary Ross and her team grew the nation’s highest quality pre-K program from 217 classrooms in 2012 to 1,350 classrooms located in all 67 counties of the state in 2020.

“Doing what is best for children” was Secretary Ross’ guiding principle; she led through action and example. With broad, bipartisan support from the Governor’s Office and the Alabama Legislature, the First Class Pre-K program received its largest funding increases in 2018 and 2019, expanding access to the program to almost 40 percent of Alabama’s 4-year-old population. It was in 2019 that the governor recommended in the budget, and the Alabama Legislature approved the largest ever single year expansion of First Class Pre-K. State investment in quality early childhood education grew from $19 million to $138 million from 2012-2020. In corresponding growth, there was a 480% increase in additional classrooms, the number of children and families served, and pre-K teachers employed under her leadership. The increases in funding and legislative support were a direct result of Secretary Ross’ enthusiastic and innovative leadership. 

Ross led the department in writing and receiving federal grants totaling over $163 million, including three preschool development grants awarded in 2014, 2019, and 2020. In her role as secretary, First Class Pre-K created a new pay scale for the program’s teachers to ensure pay parity with K-12 educators, including supplementing the salaries of teachers who obtain a master’s degree and sustaining the cost of teacher pay raises. The department also provided tuition scholarships for hundreds of First Class Pre-K teachers attaining higher education, from CDA through bachelor’s degrees, and provided support for 13 two- and four-year institutions pursuing accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education is the designated state lead agency for early learning that includes home visiting programs, with family support services that have expanded from serving 13 counties to a total of all 67 counties through the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation grants and additional state funds. Secretary Ross led the launch of Born Ready, an initiative focused on raising awareness among Alabama parents of the importance of early brain development and high-quality early care and education. Born Ready was not only developed to inform parents, but to empower them and give them access to the tools they need to be their children’s first and most important teacher.

Under her direction, the agency piloted the Pre-K through Third Grade P-3 Integrated Approach to Early Learning and its corresponding Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy to strengthen and support high-quality early learning experiences as part of Governor Ivey’s education initiative, Strong Start Strong Finish. The P-3 initiative grew from five systems with seven schools and 36 classrooms to 23 systems, 36 schools, and 190 classrooms statewide in 2020, including traditional public schools, a public charter school, and a university laboratory school. In addition, 75 Alabama elementary school principals and school system administrators successfully completed the Alabama P-3 Leadership Academy with a professional credential. This successful effort continues to grow and receive legislative budget increases each year. 

Ross led the creation of a formal multidisciplinary research and evaluation team, consisting of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education, and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama to study the effects of Alabama’s high-quality early childhood education programs. These research teams’ findings continue to be used to ensure that decision-making at the state level is driven by what works best for children. “The persistence of reading and math proficiency: the benefits of Alabama’s pre-kindergarten program endure in elementary and middle school,” was published in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy on July 23, 2020.

Alabama is nationally recognized as a leader in quality early childhood education, regularly serving as a model to other states. Secretary Ross and her team were frequently invited to provide leadership and assistance on the national level, to share Alabama’s successes in replicating quality early learning and care programs while maintaining a standard of excellence. Secretary Ross has participated in multiple cross-state and national collaborative efforts, including those led by the National Governors Association, the Hunt Institute, the Education Commission of the States, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Institute for Early Education Research, and the Center for Early Education Learning Outcomes. In August 2020, the award-winning documentary produced by the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America was released and prominently features Alabama First Class Pre-K and highlights Governor Ivey and other state leaders for their ongoing support of investing in high-quality early childhood education. Under her leadership, Alabama was also chosen as one of four states for the NIEER study “Effective State Offices of Early Learning: Structural Features, Enabling Conditions and Key Functions in Four States” that was released in May 2021. 

Jeana Ross holds a master of arts degree in education leadership from The University of Alabama and a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She and her husband, Carey, reside in Guntersville. She has two sons, John (Allison) and Wright (Aubrey), and twin grandchildren.

After retiring from public service, she continues to work in advocating and influencing policy for high-quality experiences for children and support for families.

Dr. Barbara Starnes Rountree (2018)

Rountree, originally from Guntersville, joined the UA College of Education faculty in 1977. She served in a number of leadership roles before retiring with 25 years of service from the University as co-chair of the Multiple Abilities Program.

Rountree helped create and operate “Something Special,” a Tuscaloosa-area summer camp at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, for over 20 years. More than 5,000 children participated in the camp during that span. She also founded “Space Scientists,” a summer program for elementary students, that later served as the prototype for NASA’s Space Camp.

In 1985, Rountree worked with the community and teachers to create the Children’s Hands-On Museum. She served as director of the museum for two years before returning to teaching full-time in the College of Education.

“After Dean Roth sent me to the Smithsonian and the Children’s Museum of Boston, I came home and tried to find volunteers across the city,” Rountree said. “We began making prototypes. I spent a lot of time talking to city clubs, trying to raise money, meeting with people, trying to get different groups to sponsor exhibits. We had a lot of help from the Alabama Museum of Natural History and College of Education to launch CHOM.”

In 1993, Rountree founded Capitol School, currently an international school, in Tuscaloosa, where she has continued many of the camp programs she created while at UA.

Dr. N. Joyce Sellers (2014)

The late Nona Joyce Sellers was born in Oct. 5, 1949, in Holt. She graduated as valedictorian from Holt High School in 1968.

Sellers began her career in education in 1974 at Maxwell Elementary School as a reading teacher. Later that year, she became a classroom teacher at Hillcrest Junior and Senior High Schools. In 1982, she became the first female assistant principal in Tuscaloosa County at Tuscaloosa High School. In 1986, Sellers became principal of Holt High School. She remained there until 1990 when she became principal at Hillcrest High School. From Hillcrest, she went on to serve as the first female superintendent of the Tuscaloosa County School System from 1994 until her retirement in late 2003.

As superintendent, Sellers oversaw the expansion of Tuscaloosa schools with the construction of Tuscaloosa County High, Taylorville Primary, Brookwood Middle, Echols Middle, Davis-Emerson Middle, Northside High, Northside Middle, and numerous building additions and renovations. During this time, Sellers served as an adjunct professor at The University of Alabama, helping train and inspire future educational leaders. She established the Education Excellence Foundation in 1994, a non-profit organization to benefit education in Tuscaloosa County.

Sellers was also a source of leadership to much of Tuscaloosa County. She was a part of numerous organizations: Leadership Alabama, the Alabama Council of the National Beta Club, the XXXI Society at UA, and many others. She also assisted in the Tuscaloosa Public Library’s Strategic Plan and the Tuscaloosa County Vision Planning forums. In her dedication to the Tuscaloosa youth, Sellers served as curriculum chair for Forerunners sponsored by the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce. She also helped to create programs that combated drug abuse by young people through Task Force for Drug Free Schools, and the West Alabama Drug Conference.

Additionally, the Holt High School Library is named after her; she has received the Holt High School Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Holt High School Hall of Fame. She received the Kermit Johnson Outstanding Superintendent Award, the Tombigbee Girl Scout Council Women Committed to Excellence Award, the Soroptimist Woman of Distinction Award, the Mollie Allen Advocate for Children Award from the Tuscaloosa County council of PTAs, the Northport Citizen of the Year, the Truman Pierce Leadership Award, the Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award, and she was named one of the pillars of West Alabama by the Community Foundation of West Alabama. The N. Joyce Sellers Award was established by the Alabama State Department of Education to recognize outstanding school superintendents each year. Joyce also received the Capstone Education Society Outstanding Contribution to Education Award.

Theresa Snoddy (2020)

In 1968, Theresa graduated from Winston County High School as valedictorian. Theresa attended Walker College and earned an Associate in Science degree and then a bachelor’s degree in English and art education from The University of Alabama.  She began her first year of teaching at Addison Elementary in Addison teaching Title I reading.

After moving to Auburn, she was hired as an elementary English teacher at Huguley Elementary School in Lanett, Alabama, where she taught for 12 years. During the years at Huguley, Theresa and a colleague co-wrote an elementary handwriting program that was piloted in a nearby school, under the auspices of Auburn University. Theresa earned her master’s degree in elementary education and began working on her education specialist degree.

In 1985, Theresa moved back to Double Springs. She taught English and Literature at Winston County High School. After that year, Theresa moved to Lynn School in Lynn for three years, where she taught sixth grade. She then taught at Double Springs Elementary for ten years.  

Following her time teaching elementary school, Theresa taught English and Literature at Winston County High School. In 2002, Theresa earned National Board Certification, becoming the first teacher in the Winston County school system to do so. She has since helped other teachers working toward National Board Certification. Theresa was awarded the ALFA Winston County Teacher of the Year.

After retiring from teaching, Theresa worked very hard to help form the Winston County Arts Council, where she currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Board.

Dr. Karl Stegall (2020)

From his early childhood in rural west Alabama, Dr. Stegall has possessed a love for learning.  Karl received his formal education at Livingston High School, The University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. 
A formative experience for him was during his tenure as a district superintendent. He had several student pastors who were serving local congregations while also working to complete their seminary studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.  Following Karl’s retirement from First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, members of the congregation formed the Stegall Seminary Foundation Scholarship, which has raised over $10 million dollars to help defray the cost of seminary education for candidates for ministry. 
Karl has given tirelessly to efforts to improve his community, serving on Leadership Alabama, Leadership Montgomery, and as Vice-Chairperson of the Alabama Department of Mental Health.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Community Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, and the American Red Cross.  He currently serves as President of the Central Alabama Sports Commission, on the Executive Committee of the Camellia Bowl, and as a volunteer chaplain with the Alabama High School Athletic Association.  It is difficult to capture the essence of Karl Stegall and the totality of his influence in the lives of men and women.  As a pastor, as a teacher, as a coach, Karl’s reach is vast and his ability to connect with and care for people is unrivaled. The lengths he goes to help others is remarkable.  His capacity to see the needs around him and his willingness to find resources to meet those needs reflects the selfless nature of his character, a trait that he has had as long as I have known him.  Education and learning are central to this and Karl has given tremendous time and energy to support the work of the academy through his leadership in the church and community.  

Dr. Martha Tack (2019)

A native of Eclectic, Alabama, Dr. Martha Wingard Tack graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree from Troy University. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from The University of Alabama. 

Dr. Tack is Professor Emeritus in the Educational Leadership Program within the Department of Leadership and Counseling at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). During her 21-year career at EMU, she served in several leadership positions including senior executive for presidential initiatives and headquarters administrator for the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU); interim associate vice president for academic affairs; and associate dean in the College of Education. While working as head of the Department of Leadership and Counseling at EMU, she was responsible for the implementation of the institution’s first doctoral program, a Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership. During a short leave of absence from EMU, Tack was affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham as associate dean and tenured professor of educational leadership in the School of Education. 

Before her affiliation with EMU, Tack was a tenured professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Supervision at Bowling Green State University. Tack served as assistant dean for personnel, policy, and off-campus programs and tenured associate professor of educational leadership in the College of Education at The University of Alabama. While on leave from the College of Education for two years, she worked as Assistant-to-the-President and American Council on Education (ACE) Intern. During her employment at The University of Alabama, she also served as acting head of the Area of Special Education and as acting director of the Women’s Studies Program. 

For two years, she was state coordinator of the Michigan ACE Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education and chair of the 16-member Executive Board. Under her leadership, the Michigan Network received the coveted 2005 American Council on Education National Network and Program Award for Outstanding, Innovative, and Visionary Programs Benefiting Women Leaders. For 12 years Tack served on the Board of Trustees of the National Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and was chair of the Foundation’s Research and Information Committee for six years. She was a member of the Board of Trustees for The University of Findlay (Ohio) and also served the Mortar Board National Foundation as a trustee. 

During her professional career, Tack won a number of awards. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Findlay and the Outstanding Contributor to Graduate Education award from Bowling Green State University. In addition, she was named the Education Alumna of the Year by Troy University, her undergraduate institution, and was the winner of two Phi Delta Kappa (Bowling Green Chapter) Research Awards. 

Tack received external funding to study issues in leadership from several agencies. For example, she and Dr. James L. Fisher were awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to complete and deliver a FIPSE lecture on the “Effective College President.” The grant was one of only six awarded nationally. She and Dr. Fisher also received research funding from the Exxon Education Foundation. The National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation also supported Tack’s initiatives.

Tack co-authored (with Patitu) an ASHE/ERIC Higher Education Report entitled Faculty Job Satisfaction: Women and Minorities in Peril. She also co-authored (with Fisher) two books on college administration: The Effective College President and Leaders on Leadership: The College Presidency, New Directions for Higher Education. In addition, she has written numerous articles and has given many presentations on leadership and planning in a variety of settings across the country. She has directed 35 dissertations, with 3 winning research awards. Tack’s areas of expertise are leadership, women in leadership, management, and strategic planning in higher education.

Her membership in honorary societies includes the following: Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Kappa Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Mortar Board. 

Dr. Archie Wade (2015)

Wade, one of the first black faculty members at UA, taught for 30 years in the kinesiology department before retiring in 2000.

A Tuscaloosa native, Wade coached basketball and baseball at Stillman College, his alma-mater, before playing professional baseball and earning his master’s degree at West Virginia University.

He played for legendary baseball manager Sparky Anderson as a minor league player, and he was a starter in a record-breaking 29-inning game in 1966. That same year, he led the Class A Florida League with a .338 batting average.

Wade spent two years as a recruiter for legendary UA football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant while teaching and working on his doctorate at UA.

Dr. Matt Curtner-Smith, professor of kinesiology at UA, worked with Wade and co-authored “Legacy of a Pioneer African American Educator,” a paper that reconstructs Wade’s contributions. Curtner-Smith said Wade’s legacy was evident when he began working at UA.

“His story is obviously interesting and historically significant,” Curtner-Smith said. “However, on top of this, as an inexperienced assistant professor in the early 1990s, I was also struck by the incredible respect all our students had for him. They really did revere him. Having witnessed his induction into the YMCA Hall of Fame a year or so ago, I saw the same kind of affection for him among his local community. He really is one of those people about whom you do not hear a bad word.”

Wade said he still receives letters from former students, some of whom took his classes as far back as 1975.

“I’m still enjoying retirement, but I miss the relationships with students,” Wade said. “To see them grow, academically and professionally, and to have a role in that, you can’t help but miss that time with them.”

As part of the University’s “Through the Doors” activities in 2013, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of integration at UA, Wade was be honored with a plaque commemorating his 30 years as a faculty member in the kinesiology department during a ceremony at Woodis Auditorium at UA. The plaque is in the conference room of Moore Hall, where Wade had an office and taught classes.