Alabama State University Statement on Presidential Search

Knight Assumes Office of

Alabama State University Acting President

William Harris named Interim President


Montgomery, Ala.- The Alabama State University Board of Trustees today announced acting and interim presidential appointments.  Dr. John F. Knight, Jr., Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director for Marketing and Communications will assume the office of acting president effective May 31 and occupy the position until July 14 when Dr. William Harris returns to the institution to serve as the interim president during the presidential selection process.

"I have agreed to accept the role of acting president for a limited time in order to provide the necessary leadership to maintain the University's day to day operations," said John Knight. "As the University continues the process of the presidential search, I am looking forward to working with the quality faculty and staff in serving our students and greater constituents while working closely with Dr. Harris until his arrival."

"We are happy to have Dr. Knight step in to provide solid leadership and continuity for the University," Board Chairman Elton N. Dean, Sr. said.  "He has a wealth of experience - both the educational and political knowledge needed to help transition the University in preparation for Dr. Harris' arrival and the continued search for a permanent president."

Harris will assume the ASU post on July 14, replacing Dr. Joe A. Lee who resigned effective May 31.  Harris served as the 10th president of Alabama State University from June 1, 1994 until September 30, 2000.  During his tenure as president of the University, Harris was instrumental in the Knight vs. State Remedial Decree, which resulted in the launch of the occupational therapy program and its initial accreditation, the health information management and social work programs' accreditation and the completion of the proposals for doctoral programs in educational leadership, policy and law and microbiology. Under Harris' leadership, ASU experienced a 100 percent increase in the number of academic and presidential scholars and became the comprehensive regional institution it is today.   Since leaving ASU, Harris has served at the helm of several institutions of higher education.

Additional accomplishments under Harris' leadership include the following:

  • ASU's first major endowment was launched during his tenure and funding secured for several capital improvements including the renewal of Paterson Hall, and George H. Lockhart gymnasium.
  • A diversity scholarship program was launched that increased minority enrollment
  • The Board of Trustees adopted a new mission and role statement that reflects the university's expanded scope as a comprehensive regional university
  • The National Center for Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture was established
  • ASU unveiled the Business & Technology Center
  • The Center for Leadership and Public Policy was established
  • The Alabama Minority Students Summer Bridge Program for math, science, computer science and engineering majors made its debut.
  • ASU ranked number 1 producer of African-American baccalaureate education degrees in the nation.

Founded in 1867, Alabama State University is home to the oldest college of education for African Americans in the nation.  Additionally, academic programs include health sciences, business, computer science, biology, communications and more.  For more information visit

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-Alabama State University statement