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Portera only viable candidate' for UA job

By Staff
Nov. 8, 2001
First, Mississippi State University has great momentum and is well positioned for the future. This institution understands its role and its mission and it has the infrastructure and the expertise to continue to make outstanding contributions to the future of Mississippi, regardless of who has the privilege of serving as its president.
Second, the position as chief executive officer of the University of Alabama System, which comprises three doctoral level research universities with a $1.8 billion budget and more than 41,000 students, could present an opportunity for me to use my abilities to the maximum and to make a greater contribution to our region.
Finally, Olivia and I have family and personal ties to the Tuscaloosa area.
My family and I deeply appreciate the many expressions of interest and good wishes that we have received during the past several days. We will do our best to make the right decision about the future, as will the trustees of the University of Alabama System."
Dr. Malcolm Portera
From staff, wire reports
Mississippi State University President Malcolm Portera could be named chancellor of the University of Alabama System as early as Friday, according to UA board members.
Sid McDonald, president pro tem of the Alabama board, said a decision could be made quickly after Portera's Friday interview if a deal can be worked out. Portera said he is interested in returning to the Alabama system, where he spent 26 years.
From the outset, Dr. Portera's name has been suggested by state leaders, campus sources and the news media,'' McDonald said. Things developed so rapidly, we are going to try to go the short route.''
Birmingham trustee John McMahon said Portera was the only viable candidate for the job.
I have had more people in every aspect of the community academic, civic leadership, politics, government express more admiration for Mac than anybody I've ever seen,'' McMahon said.
Portera said he was interested in the Alabama job partly for professional reasons and partly for personal reasons. His older son is a lawyer in Birmingham, and his younger son will move to Birmingham in May.
McDonald and some other trustees have spoken with Portera, but the system did not advertise the position.
Trustee John Russell Thomas of Alexander City said trustees may not need to do an extensive search if Portera is available. When you've got such an obviously strong candidate, why go through the expense and time of the process?'' he said.
Any vote may not be unanimous. Trustee Cleo Thomas of Anniston, who favored University of North Alabama President Robert Potts for the position, expressed reservations about Portera, an industrial developer before going to Mississippi State in 1997.
Trustees are looking for a replacement for Thomas Meredith, who is leaving the three-campus Alabama system to become head of Georgia's 34-campus university system.
Meredith makes $237,500 annually in Alabama. Portera's base salary is $150,000 a year at Mississippi State, and he receives $100,000 more annually from a private foundation.