MSU Provost/EVP Judith L. “Judy” Bonner to retire June 30

Contact: Sid Salter

Judith L. “Judy” Bonner (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President Judith L. “Judy” Bonner has informed the university of her intention to retire at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, MSU President Mark E. Keenum announced today [Jan. 7].

The second-ranking university administrator reporting to the president, Bonner is responsible for all academic policies, integrity of the academic mission, and academic operations of the university. She provides direct oversight for eight academic colleges and two campuses, as well as many academic and non-academic support units.

Bonner also works with senior administrators to develop budgetary recommendations that affect the teaching, research and service missions of the institution.

Keenum said work already has begun on formulating an exhaustive national search like the one that produced Bonner’s appointment in 2016 after then-MSU Provost Jerry Gilbert was named president of Marshall University.

“In this vital and challenging leadership role, Dr. Bonner served MSU with tremendous distinction and her accomplishments here have elevated this university to new academic heights,” said Keenum. “While I am saddened over her decision to retire, I respect Dr. Bonner’s impeccable vision and judgment that the time is right for her to bring to a close what can only be described as a legendary career in higher education.”

Keenum said he was likewise “extremely grateful for the time Dr. Bonner’s announcement afforded MSU to conduct a far-reaching national search for her successor.”

She joined MSU’s leadership team after a distinguished career as a longtime senior administrator and former president of the University of Alabama.

“Working with President Keenum and the incredible faculty, staff, and administrators at Mississippi State has been icing on the cake for me both professionally and personally,” Bonner said. “When I retired from Alabama, I wasn’t planning on another position but Mississippi State was a perfect fit.  This university is an academic leader in the State of Mississippi and a change-agent for cutting-edge academic and research programs that are recognized throughout the nation and around the world.  I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped make my time at MSU so incredibly rewarding, and I will always ring true with my Bulldog family.” 

Bonner served as UA’s 28th president from 2012 to 2015, having previously served as provost and executive vice president for almost a decade. Bonner’s UA career also included positions as professor, department chair, assistant academic vice president, special assistant to the president, dean and interim president. Prior to this, she held faculty appointments in the University of Alabama-Birmingham department of pediatrics and in Ohio State University’s medical dietetics department.

She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UA. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Ohio State. Her degrees are in human nutrition, and her research focused on nutritional needs of chronically ill children and eating disorders.   

After completing her service as the UA president in 2015, the UA Board of Trustees created a $1 million endowment to annually bestow the Judy Bonner Presidential Prize on an individual making a significant difference in the undergraduate experience. Also, the UA National Alumni Association in 2016 presented her its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumna Award. 

She is a two-time recipient of the Amanda Grace Taylor Watson Distinctive Image Award for 2007 and 2015 from the Capstone Men and Women, and Omicron Delta Kappa national honor society presented her with the 2015 Living Legend Award.

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