Skip to content

Board President Pro Tem Announces Presidential Search Finalists

August 26, 2021

Presidential Search Letter from Jerome B. Williams, DVM

August 26, 2021

To:   The Alabama A&M University (AAMU) Family [View PDF Version]

I write to further update you on the status of our search for the next president of 
Alabama A&M University. But first, the Search Committee (SC), Chaired by Trustee Dr. Wayne Watts, has demonstrated consistency and hard work in every phase of the search process. They are to be commended for taking their vacation time to advance this presidential search process.

The SC, with the assistance of our consultants from Academic Search, performed the following tasks, beginning the first week of May 2021:

➢ Listening Sessions were held with key University constituents to prepare a 
comprehensive university profile to draft the prospectus. 
• Faculty
• Staff
• Students
• Alumni
• Board of Trustees

➢ Based on the Listening Sessions held with the above constituent groups, the SC drafted, reviewed, and finalized the search prospectus.

➢ The Presidential Search was publicly launched on June 16, 2021, with a closing 
date of July 30th for applications to receive full consideration by the SC. You will 
be pleased to know that the applicant pool was strong and included the 
• 53 total applicants
• 17% of the applicants are current or former presidents or CEO’s
• 42% of the applicants are current or former Vice Presidents

➢ On August 3rd, after reviewing all applications, the SC met to select a shortlist of candidates for confidential Zoom interviews.

➢ On August 13th and 14th, the SC interviewed each of the shortlist candidates. 
Following robust discussion, the committee selected a slate of three finalists, 
unranked, to be presented to the Board of Trustees for their consideration.
➢ The following steps in the process will involve intensive background checks on each of the finalists. 
Because of pandemic-related issues, completion of this phase may take up to two weeks. The intensive background checks will include the following:
• Reference checks of persons not listed by the candidates. Commonly known as Off-List references 
• Credit story reviews
• State and Federal Court record database reviews
• Lexis-Nexis background research 
• Social Media reviews
• Deep Google record checks

The SC and the consultants stand ready to assist the Board in preparing and implementing the Zoom interviews of the finalists. The Zoom interviews rather than the usual campus visit by the presidential candidates, was based on the recommendation of our COVID Consulting Physician.

In conclusion, I want to ask you to again thank each member of the SC and the Chair. With the aid of the search consultants, I am pleased to present this slate of highly qualified candidates for your consideration, listed in alphabetical order:

 Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President, Huston-Tillotson, Austin, Texas
 Dr. Roderick Smothers, President, Philander Smith, Little Rock, Arkansas
 Dr. Daniel K. Wims, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research


Best regards,
Jerome B. Williams, DVM
President Pro Tempore
University Board of Trustee