Ed.D., The University of Alabama, 1999. Higher Education Administration.
M.A, Jacksonville State University, 1976. Biology.
B.S., Jacksonville State University, 1974. Biology.
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.