Portera tops list for UA system
By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Oct. 31, 2001
If Mississippi State University President Malcolm Portera takes the top job at the University of Alabama System, two key area leaders say his loss would be a serious blow to east Mississippi and state.
East Mississippi Business Development Corp. President Wade Jones touted Portera's role in downtown Meridian revitalization. State College Board President Bill Crawford of Meridian credited Portera with helping Mississippi land a Nissan auto plant.
Portera, president of Mississippi State since January 1998, has said he is willing to listen to the University of Alabama even though he isn't shopping for another job.
Portera is the leading candidate to replace Tom Meredith as chancellor of the University of Alabama System in Tuscaloosa. Portera is a former University of Alabama System vice chancellor.
Alabama contacts Portera
Portera confirmed Tuesday that he has been contacted by Alabama officials and would meet them about the chancellor's post. He said he has no timeframe.
Alabama state Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said members of the UA System board of trustees have indicated they are "highly interested" in Portera returning to Alabama, where he received his doctorate degree and spent 20 years in higher education.
Meredith, a former University of Mississippi administrator, is leaving Alabama to become chancellor of the University System of Georgia, which comprises 34 institutions.
Meredith makes $237,500 in Alabama. Portera's base salary is $150,000 a year, and he receives $100,000 more annually from a private MSU foundation.
The UA System board of trustees meets next Nov. 7-8 in Tuscaloosa.
Portera helped Mercedes
While in Alabama, Portera was widely credited for helping to land the Mercedes Plant near Tuscaloosa.
Crawford said that Portera "helped us get Nissan away from Alabama. He has been our great weapon in economic development, especially with the automotive industry. With him back, they (Alabama) would be tough to beat."
Jones said that Portera left his mark on the Meridian area. For example, Porter has been involved in the development of Hope Village For Children and helped develop The Montgomery Institute.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.