Samford University President Emeritus Thomas E. Corts has been named interim chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system. The State Board of Education appointed Dr. Corts July 27 to provide stable leadership over the duration of a search process for a permanent chancellor. The action came at a special meeting in Montgomery, Ala., called by Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who serves on the nine-member board.
Dr. Corts, who retired June 1 as Samford president, said he did not need a job and was not "building a second career" with the two-year college system. "I would consider accepting this responsibility a fulfillment of a sense of civic duty and I would do it out of a desire to help," Corts told the board. "I owe no political debts, I aspire to no office or status."
The board recently fired Chancellor Roy Johnson amid concerns over a corruption probe and nepotism issues, an Associated Press story noted. Governor Riley called the special meeting to discuss the administration of the two-year college system, which oversees 26 community colleges and other programs. He strongly endorsed Corts for the leadership position. "In Dr. Corts we have a proven and trusted leader from outside the system," Riley said. "Dr. Corts, I believe, will insist on a culture of accountability from the very start and I believe that he can rebuild the public's trust in the two-year system while a thoughtful and very deliberate search takes place." Riley said he hoped such a search could be completed within 12 to 18 months.
Corts served 23 years as the 17th president of Samford, Alabama's largest privately-supported institution of higher learning. Before assuming the presidency of Samford in 1983, he was president of North Carolina's Wingate University for nine years.
He served as chairman of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, responsible for the accreditation of about 800 degree-granting universities and colleges in the 11 states of the South, from Virginia to Texas. Later, he was president of the entire Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which includes the accreditation of two- and four-year colleges and universities, as well as elementary and secondary schools.
He is a past president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities, and of the National Fellowship of Baptist Educators. He is former chairman of the President's Advisory Council of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities.
Corts earned his undergraduate degree at Georgetown College of Kentucky, and master's and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University. He is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama, Georgetown College, Campbell University and Judson College.