Messages from the President - 2020

USA President Tony Waldrop’s messages to the University community are posted below and on the University’s Facebook page, You can also follow him on Instagram (USA Waldrops).

May 22, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Each morning, Julee and I get up early and go for a 3-mile walk. This time of year, the air is still cool and the sun begins to rise before the end of our stroll. I’ve always enjoyed getting an early start, and walking with Julee and our new German Shepard, Buddy Blue, is one of my favorite times of the day.

During this pandemic, taking care of ourselves, mentally and physically, should be a priority for all of us. Yet I know it’s easy to lose focus, given the disruption in our lives. For me, having a routine and a partner is helpful. And I want to remind you that USA is here, even while you’re away from campus, to help you stay healthy.

The Department of Campus Recreation continues to host virtual classes six days a week on Zoom. The offerings include strength and cardio workouts along with yoga.

Student counseling is available for sessions through the Counseling and Testing Center, and the USA Psychological Clinic is offering consultations and therapy through tele-health to adults and children in our community.

Jaguar Productions put together a full list of programing for spring semester and is building out a summer schedule. Until then, its website offers a collection of virtual attractions in Mobile and beyond. More resources can be found on our South Strong website.

I know many of you are using your time to further your academic progress and taking advantage of the tuition rate adjustment for summer online classes. Taking a class in the summer is a good way to stay engaged and keep on track for graduation. Students can continue to enroll in advance of the summer session that begins June 3.

I want to finish with some good news. This video is being shared on social media, showing a patient leaving University Hospital after 47 days of treatment for COVID-19. He spent 30 of those days on a ventilator. The healthcare workers lining the hallways, and his wife cheering behind him, should give us all reason to smile – and be hopeful in even the most difficult situations.

I hope you and your families enjoy a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

May 15, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you had the chance to see USA’s virtual commencement ceremony last Saturday. I was pleased to watch the livestream along with nearly 3,000 USA students, family members and friends.

For students, please remember that Monday, May 18, is the deadline for submitting your application for an emergency grant through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) portion of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We have received thousands of applications to date, and will be processing the applications and making award notifications as quickly as possible.

Please keep in mind that while USA has received approximately $5.7 million in CARES Act funding to be distributed to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount a student may receive is based on her or his individual circumstances and will be impacted by the total number of approved applications that the University receives, as well as the federal guidelines that direct the distribution of these funds.

As you know, every member of our USA community has made sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a careful analysis of current and anticipated budgetary shortfalls related to the pandemic and the potential impact of cost-saving measures on employees, we have implemented a four-month 4.5% reduction in pay for certain University administrative, staff and faculty employees whose salaries are $30,000 or more. This reduction does not apply to faculty on nine-month contracts, as their work was completed prior to the effective date of the salary reduction. In addition, the USA Health system already has implemented its own separate set of cost reduction measures.

Employees who are subject to the temporary pay reduction are eligible to receive four additional paid personal days during this time. After receiving input from faculty and staff, we have extended the period during which these days can be used to December 31, 2020.

While we recognize that any reduction in salary is difficult, it is necessary to address at least a portion of the expected budget shortfall the University expects to experience due to the pandemic. If you have questions about your specific situation, I encourage you to contact your supervisor or Human Resources.

At USA Health and at hospitals across the country, Emergency Department volume is down as people delay treatment. This can be risky, particularly for stroke and heart patients, and for those with infections, where time is critical for the best outcomes. USA Health has followed strict protocols when it comes to patient safety, and our healthcare teams are committed to providing quality, evidence-based care. I am thankful to all of our healthcare providers, but this week, at the conclusion of National Nurses Week, I specifically want to recognize and thank the hundreds of licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners who work at USA Health for their hard work and dedication to keeping us all healthy.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that our campus reopening committee and subcommittees continue to meet and work on plans for students, faculty and staff to return to campus by fall. This plan will require all of us to be flexible and work together as we implement needed changes to our operations, such as social distancing, new health and safety protocols, limits on the size of gatherings, and allowing employees to return in stages. The committee and sub-committees are moving quickly while being thoughtful and thorough. I plan to have more information for everyone in the next few weeks.

Tony G. Waldrop

May 8, 2020

Dear USA Faculty, Staff and Administrators,

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a number of significant challenges to the ongoing operations of the University. We all have done our part to respond to these challenges and continue to carry out our mission of education, research, service and healthcare.

At this time, we must confront one of the most critical issues we face. As a result of reduced revenues and necessary expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, USA has experienced financial losses that will total nearly $8 million by the end of the summer term. University leadership has worked to contain costs, but an analysis of the ongoing issues we will confront in the near future shows that we will likely experience a total budget shortfall of between $15 million to $37 million through the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year and the 2021 fiscal year. This shortfall is consistent with shortfalls experienced by other universities throughout the country. The funding provided to USA through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will cover only a small portion of the total expected shortfall.

Therefore, the University at this time must implement a temporary 4.5% pay reduction for employees whose annual salary is $30,000 or greater. This reduction will be in effect for the period beginning May 1, 2020, through August 31, 2020, for monthly employees and the period beginning May 10, 2020 through September 12, 2020, for bi-weekly employees. This pay reduction, which will be processed electronically, applies to all permanent regular administrative and staff employees in the University General Division, as well as faculty paid under twelve month contracts (including the College of Medicine). These measures are in addition to the hiring and classification freeze implemented earlier this month.

Please note that this pay reduction does not apply to employees and contracted physicians of USA Health. The USA Health system has already implemented its own separate set of cost reduction measures.

Employees who are subject to the temporary pay reduction will be eligible to receive four paid personal days, based on FTE, to use before the last day of the last pay period in September. As with vacation, these personal days must be scheduled and approved in advance by your supervisor to ensure continuity of operations. Personal days will not roll into the next fiscal year if not taken.

During this period, overtime will be authorized only in the most critical situations and must be approved in advance by the appropriate divisional vice president.

These are unprecedented times, and a review of the University’s financial status closer to the end of the four-month period will determine if additional measures, including but not limited to extension of the salary reduction, will be necessary. We will continue to communicate about these issues with the University community as more information becomes available.

Your hard work and dedication to the University of South Alabama during these difficult circumstances is appreciated. Thank you for all that you are doing to help USA remain strong.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

Scott Weldon
Vice President for Finance and Administration

May 7, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you will make plans to join our University family this Saturday at 11 a.m. CDT to celebrate our 2020 spring and summer graduates with our virtual commencement. Graduates, families and friends can view the conferring of degrees by visiting the USA homepage at and clicking on the banner image. While this year’s ceremony will be different, the importance of this event remains the same. We continue to look at ways in which we can hold an in-person ceremony in the future, but for now I’m honored to be able to address our graduates and confer the degrees. Also speaking will be our academic deans and this year's Student Government Association president, Sahilee Waitman.

This week, the University began the process of distributing the funds USA has been allocated as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) portion of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. USA has received a total of approximately $5.7 million in funding that will be distributed directly to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are moving as quickly as possible to get these funds to our students. For information on how to apply for this assistance, please visit USA’s HEERF website.

In addition to the $5.7 million in assistance that will be distributed directly to students, USA expects to receive additional federal assistance that can be used for institutional needs. University leadership is working through a process that will identify the best uses for these funds.

I regret having to end this message on a sad note, but as many of you may know, Dr. Brian Axsmith, a USA professor of biology, died this week after contracting COVID-19. Dr. Axsmith’s research interest was paleobotany; even those who didn’t know Dr. Axsmith may recognize him from the classes he conducted outside to enable his students to study plants and trees. He was a gifted and thoughtful speaker who made learning about biology accessible, he was well-regarded by both his students and colleagues, and he will be missed.

It’s important to know that while restrictions on movement begin to ease nationwide and here in Alabama, we all have a responsibility to each other’s health and safety. That means frequent hand-washing, avoiding large social gatherings and keeping at least 6 feet of distance between persons. These practical guidelines are not just about your safety, but about saving the lives of others. Let’s show what it means to be “in this together.”

Tony G. Waldrop

May 1, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Spring has been a challenge for all of our students, especially our graduating students, who left for spring break not knowing that they had taken their last classes on campus. Graduation can be a bittersweet experience, this year even more so.

Let’s then recognize and honor our graduates, together. Please join me for a virtual commencement next Saturday, May 9, at 11 a.m. Central Time. You will be able to watch it on YouTube by clicking the large banner on USA’s home page,

This ceremony will be its own unique experience and cannot replace the commencement many of our graduates were expecting. To those students, please know that we are continuing to look for ways that we can honor you this fall on campus.

It is my sincere hope that, through virtual watch parties and intimate family gatherings, this commencement will be one to remember for all the right reasons: celebrating accomplishment, honoring community and anticipating better times ahead.

As we send our graduates off to their futures, we also are planning for the future of the University. I’m pleased to let you know that the University is planning to reopen campus and resume in-person classes and residential student living this fall. There is always the possibility that the evolving health risks or other circumstances associated with COVID-19 may require that we change our plans, but we are currently working through the many logistical issues associated with reopening our campus.

The most important step in reopening is to ensure that we can conduct classes and activities in a safe manner. To that end we have formed a committee tasked with laying the groundwork for reopening. This group has met twice, and an additional nine sub-groups have been formed to examine issues ranging from health and safety to academics, athletics and finance. The at-large committee expects recommendations back in the next few weeks so it can make decisions on how to proceed with reopening. We are moving quickly, but thoroughly, in order to allow for a safe return of our students and employees.

As you know, Governor Kay Ivey already is relaxing some restrictions statewide by replacing the Stay at Home order with a Safer at Home order. At USA Health, that will mean a return to elective surgeries and procedures. Healthcare and support staff will continue practices that have helped keep our hospitals as safe as possible, including limiting access of visitors and requiring facemasks, curbside triage for both hospital emergency departments, and eliminating communal patient waiting rooms at the hospitals.

To ensure an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, USA Health has found an innovative way to disinfect N95 masks for reuse. The sterilization staff each day collects the masks and cleans them with the same Xenex robot used to clean hospital rooms. The robot emits pulsed UV-C light to sterilize the masks before they are returned to their original users.

Just as USA Health is finding innovative ways to work around challenges, and commencement will be held in a way never done before, let us all continue to search for solutions that unite us behind preparation and purpose.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 24, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

As we take necessary precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including distance learning and working remotely for many of our employees, we also must begin to plan for how and when we reopen campus to the University community.

That is why I’ve appointed a committee charged with researching and recommending plans to welcome back students, faculty and staff. It still is too soon to say when that may happen, but I know we need to prepare for a smooth and safe transition. We surely cannot immediately go back to how we operated before the pandemic, so we’ll work to determine reasonable and responsible guidelines and a timeline for moving forward.

The committee includes healthcare and academic representatives. We’ll meet at least weekly, including our first at-large meeting today. Please let me know if you have any ideas you’d like brought to the table.

Through this pandemic, one thing has not changed –the generosity and dedication of our Jaguar community. The SouthFund annual employee and retiree giving campaign has concluded with 2,977 gifts totaling a record $1.23 million. More than half of our USA and USA Health employees donated, once again making the SouthFund campaign the envy of other universities and putting needed resources to scholarships, research, healthcare and other University activities. Thank you to all who gave, as well as the unit representatives and our co-chairs – Dr. Harold Pardue, graduate school dean; Dr. Michael Chang, USA Health chief medical officer; and Dr. Debra Davis, College of Nursing dean emeritus.

Dr. Chang also has been a leader in our coronavirus planning and response, which includes implementing safety protocols at our hospitals and clinics. Extensive COVID-19 screening occurs when anyone arrives at a USA Health facility. Each day, patients and staff are asked a series of questions and temperatures are taken to maintain as healthy of an environment as possible. Because of these protocols, and due to the hard work of our environmental services personnel, USA Health has been able to maintain its longstanding commitment to patient and employee safety.

Please remember and honor the commitment of our healthcare professionals by following social distancing and other guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on protecting yourself and others.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 17, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

We’re all learning to adapt to new ways of functioning. Some of these changes, like working from home, are temporary. Other behaviors, such as washing our hands more frequently, may become standard operating procedure. It’s too soon to tell what the new normal will look like.

In any case, COVID-19 is forcing us to change and innovate. We are ready for that challenge.

At USA Health, telemedicine is on the rise and will likely be factored into our long-term growth plans, as our providers look for new ways to reach patients without the need for them to come to a clinic or hospital.

Our Office of Research and Economic Development, recognizing the need to push innovation quickly, adapted its technology commercialization and industry collaboration practices — the procedure that moves a product from the lab to a commercial enterprise — by agreeing to non-exclusive, royalty-free licenses of intellectual property related to preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19.

And our faculty and students continue to meet the challenge of online, remote education, even if it comes with a learning curve. When we decided to move summer classes online, the University eliminated the additional online charges for most undergraduate students this summer. We wanted to remove barriers to students finishing their degrees on time, and our students have responded with strong interest in those courses.

We are all finding new ways to live and learn. I’m learning more about our teleconferencing technology, and I now have many daily meetings online. I have one scheduled for today with student leaders, after meeting with other students last week.

I’d much rather meet in person. I miss having everyone on campus. But I know I’ll see all of you when we can return safely.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 10, 2020

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

While many of us are displaced, at home or working remotely, it’s important we stay in touch. Each Friday for the remainder of the semester, I’ll be sending you an email with some notes I’ve made from the past week – items you may have missed, good news you should know about, and some reflections on how we can move forward together.

I had a conversation on Tuesday with eight student leaders to see how they are doing and hear their opinions on how we’re doing. Joining me on that video conference was Dr. David Johnson, provost; Dr. Mike Mitchell, vice president for student affairs; and Dr. Andi Kent, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and the incoming interim provost. We all seem to be, as one student put it, in a time of constant adjustment, so there certainly will be challenges. The students mentioned some challenges with online classes and grading that we are following up on, as well as the need to ensure our online video conferences are secure. I also heard of several instances where our faculty went the extra mile – beginning classes by checking on the students’ well being, giving extra time for assignments, and even an instructor who gave students his cell phone number so they could text him.

One way we’re helping our community stay connected is by making it easier to access campus resources remotely. We built a South Strong web page with more than a dozen listings of resources and services that we think might be helpful, and we’re continuing to add to that page.

While many of our faculty and main campus staff are working from home, our USA Health employees are at our hospitals and clinics treating patients, conducting research and taking care of our health facilities. I hope all of you will join me in thanking them for their incredible commitment to healing and serving the sick and vulnerable in our region. They are on the front lines of battling the coronavirus pandemic, and our community is grateful for their sacrifices. For the past two Sundays, people from throughout the community have gathered in their vehicles outside our hospitals and turned on their car lights to show support for our colleagues.

USA Health, in collaboration with the City of Mobile, is operating a COVID-19 testing site at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. About 20 healthcare employees from our physicians group are staffing the site, with significant support from our USA Health information technology department. By the end of this week, we expect to have seen 500 people who made appointments to be tested.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate students Richard Fu, Hannah Giannini, Samantha Michlowitz and John Pomerat, who are among a select group of students from across the country recognized as 2020 Goldwater Scholars. This is the first time that USA has achieved the maximum number of allowable annual recipients, and our students are four of only seven total from all Alabama universities to be recognized for outstanding achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Great work by Richard, Hannah, Samantha and John, and to the family and faculty members who supported them!

Until next week, be safe, and keep others safe, by continuing to practice social distancing.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 7, 2020

Dear USA Faculty and Staff,

I’m pleased to let you know that Laura Anne Schratt has accepted the position of Executive Director of Internal Audit. She will begin work at USA on May 18 and will serve as a member of the President’s Administrative Council.

Laura comes to USA from the North Dakota University System office, where she has served as Chief Audit Executive for the past six years. Prior to her work at NDUS, she was a Financial Analyst for Shell Vacations, LLC, in Northbrook, Illinois, and Senior Financial Analyst for Cargill Investor Services in Chicago.

Laura holds a bachelor’s of business administration with a specialization in public accounting from Hofstra University, and an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from Loyola University in Chicago.

With more than 20 years of finance and auditing experience, Laura is an accomplished professional whose experience and expertise will greatly benefit the University.

Please join me in welcoming Laura Anne Schratt to USA.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

April 2, 2020

USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

Even though our campus has moved to limited operations and classes are being held online, South remains a community with a shared purpose and genuine regard for all Jaguars. That is why we’ve put together a South Strong page on our University website to promote resources, advice, campus information and even some virtual school spirit.

Instead of greeting one another on campus, we can share social media stories of #SouthAtHome. Instead of yoga at the Rec Center, we can work out at home through virtual classes. Instead of wearing our school colors on campus, we can download South backgrounds for Zoom chats.

South Strong provides information on everything from online tutoring and free counseling to financial assistance and chats with our librarians.

This semester is something different and challenging for all of us. Let’s make the best of it. Let’s stay South Strong.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 31, 2020


Thank you to everyone who has participated in the University’s strategic planning process to date. Unfortunately, we must delay the development of our strategic plan as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will begin the process again this fall. At that time, the University’s strategic planning committee will reconvene, and we will invite the entire University community to participate in the process. We anticipate that the strategic planning process will be completed during the 2020-21 academic year.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 12, 2020


As you are aware from previous communications, the University Pandemic Emergency Management Team is closely monitoring the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). The University of South Alabama is a globally engaged institution with faculty, staff, and students who frequently travel internationally as well as domestically. The health and safety of our university community is a top priority for the institution. Please check frequently the University homepage at for updates.

In light of the current outbreak of COVID-19 and the fact that the World Health Organization has now declared it a global pandemic, we are taking all reasonable precautions to keep our community safe and informed. Based on the expanding global outbreak, the significant risk of exposure during travel, and guidance from experts in public health and infectious disease, the University of South Alabama is implementing interim travel guidelines and restrictions. With the exception of those trips currently underway, all upcoming university-sponsored international faculty, staff, and student travel is suspended effective immediately and until further notice.

Additionally, all non-essential university-sponsored domestic travel is suspended. Domestic travel deemed essential will require the approval of the respective Vice President and the President. Employees with out-of-pocket expenses related to cancelled trips should contact the University Travel Services Office at 460-6242 for guidance.

Although these travel guidelines and restrictions do not apply to personal travel, employees and students are encouraged to reconsider any planned air travel, cruise ship travel, travel to areas identified by the Centers for Disease Control as at risk for COVID-19, and travel to group meetings or events. Employees and students who are considering personal travel are cautioned to carefully review the risk of exposure and of travel disruption and employees should notify supervisors of their destinations should they decide to travel.

Travelers returning to campus from international destinations will have to comply with U.S. re-entry and quarantine or self-isolation requirements and travelers returning from certain domestic areas will face similar requirements. Additionally, returning travelers may be required by the University to remain at home for a self-quarantine period. Returning employees should coordinate with their supervisors about missed work and returning students should coordinate with course instructors and advisors about missed class time if quarantine or self-isolation is required.

Employees and students returning from international travel or travel to a domestic area impacted by COVID-19 should self-quarantine for a period of 14 days and must self-report this travel to their respective supervisor, program coordinator or department chair. These areas are currently defined as all international destinations, as well as the United States regions of Washington State and Westchester County, New York. An up-to-date list of defined areas is posted at and will be updated daily, or as soon as new information becomes available. The University will require a 14-day period of self-quarantine before returning to work or clinical placements for these travelers. If such a period of self-quarantine is required after personal travel deemed at-risk, employees will be required to utilize accrued leave for that period.

The University is closely monitoring the developing situation and will update travel guidelines as CDC risk levels change. These interim guidelines will remain effective for a minimum of 30 days and will be extended as long as warranted by the level of risk.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.
University of South Alabama

March 9, 2020


Dear USA Faculty and Staff,

In recognition of the dedication of our USA employees, each quarter the University recognizes the exceptional efforts of one University general staff employee for the Employee of the Quarter award.

I am very pleased to announce that Terry Silva, Maintenance Repair Technician, in the Grounds Department, has been selected as the USA Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2020. His nomination reads in part: “Terry is the Grounds employee that many may have seen driving a small commercial street sweeper around campus. The equipment has long been out of service; however, Mr. Silva being committed to his job, now cleans all the parking lots/streets by hand with a rake and shovel. Numerous weekends and late afternoons when everyone else is gone, he works on the high traffic, less accessible areas. The fact that Mr. Silva performs by hand what was previously managed by a commercial machine is amazing in itself. He continues to persevere without ever seeing an end to his work and does so without complaint. As a servant to the campus community and providing what is considered a great first impression to visitors, Mr. Silva provides a safe and clean environment for all.”

Terry was recognized for his commitment to excellence and presented the award at the Board of Trustees meeting on March 6, 2020.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 5, 2020


Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Andrea Kent, Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, has agreed to serve as Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs when Dr. David Johnson steps down from this role in September.

Dr. Kent has been a member of the USA faculty for more than 15 years, and has served as Dean of the College since 2016, when she was selected after a national search. During her tenure as dean, Dr. Kent has continued to build ever-stronger ties between USA and our local and regional school systems, including the establishment of the College’s first Advisory Council. In addition to increasing student access by more than doubling the number of scholarships available to CEPS students, she guided the incorporation of the Interdisciplinary Studies and the Hospitality and Tourism Management programs into the College. Dr. Kent also oversaw the founding of the USA CEPS Literacy Center as well as the opening of the new Office of Adult Learner Services.

Dr. Kent earned her Ph.D. in instructional design and development, and her master’s degree in early childhood education, from USA and she earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from the University of Mobile.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Kent for accepting this very important role.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 4, 2020


Dear USA Employees and Students,

After more than a decade of exceptional and dedicated leadership as the University's Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. David Johnson has announced his plan to step down from his administrative position and return to the faculty in September.

Dr. Johnson's leadership has been both transformative and inspirational. He has led USA in important new academic directions, and his vision and guidance have significantly enhanced the profile of our students, the quality of our academic programs, and the depth and breadth of our curricular and extracurricular experiences. His particular focus on student achievement and success has resulted in USA's recent enrollments of the most academically talented classes in our history, and the steadily increasing retention and graduation rates of our students.

While it would be nearly impossible to list the many ways in which Dr. Johnson's leadership has enhanced the mission, vision and overall advancement of the University of South Alabama, there are some particular areas in which his influence will be felt long into the future. His vision for the success of our students includes a major expansion of our advising staff, which has contributed to better academic performance and progress among our students, and the founding of the Honors College, which in a short time has grown into an intellectual and creative force within our campus community. In addition, Dr. Johnson has overseen the creation and implementation of many new doctoral programs, and he started the Innovation in Learning Center, which continues to enhance faculty development in teaching and learning. He also led the University through a successful reaccreditation process with SACSCOC in 2013, as well as the subsequent fifth-year review by SACSCOC in 2019.

Dr. Johnson's future plans include a well-deserved sabbatical (the first of his career), after which he will re-join the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work and continue his teaching and research.

Dr. Johnson's 35-year career at the University of South Alabama includes 20 years as a full professor of sociology, six years as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, two years as Associate Dean, and nine years as the sociology graduate program director. These are mere numbers, however, which cannot adequately capture the outsized and profound influence he has had on his colleagues and his students, nor can they truly demonstrate the myriad ways in which he has furthered the growth and success of the University. We are a stronger, better institution of higher education because of Dr. Johnson's leadership, dedication, abilities and talents.

Please join me in thanking Dr. David Johnson for his service as our Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and in wishing him the very best as he continues his distinguished academic career.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 2, 2020


Dear USA Students and Employees,

The University is continuing to monitor reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To ensure the University is adequately prepared to follow guidance and directives from the CDC and other relevant agencies, I have activated the University’s Pandemic Emergency Management Team. This team includes representatives from all relevant areas of the University and is led by Dr. Michael Chang, Chief Medical Officer for USA Health. The team is reviewing processes and plans for appropriate responses to the evolving information about COVID-19.

As we learn more each day about COVID-19, the management team will continue to meet, assess reports and information, and make decisions about appropriate actions. Depending on roles and responsibilities, employees may be receiving additional, more specific information from the leadership of their areas.

Students should continue to monitor their University email accounts during Spring Break for any announcements. The University is currently evaluating the impacts on students who are or will be studying abroad, and will communicate with students on a case-by-case basis regarding their specific circumstances.

In the meantime, please remember that following guidelines for prevention of virus transmission is a very important part of our shared responsibility. Precautions for preventing transmission of COVID-19 are similar to prevention practices for flu and other respiratory illnesses. These include: frequently washing your hands; not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and routinely cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces.

I encourage students, faculty and staff to educate themselves about the virus, its symptoms and the geographic areas where the virus is most widespread. In particular, students and employees are urged to use caution when considering travel to areas where the virus is prevalent. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC website at In addition, updates and information are being posted to USA’s Student Health Center website.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Cases have ranged from people being mildly sick to being severely ill and dying. At this point, the CDC believes symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

If you believe you have become ill from, or have been exposed to, this virus, please take appropriate precautions to not spread it. This includes staying in your dwelling and limiting your contact with other people. Employees should contact their primary care provider, and students should contact the USA Student Health Center at (251) 460-7151 or

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

March 2, 2020


Students, faculty and staff,

I want to remind you that tomorrow is a voting day in Alabama and encourage you to exercise your right and responsibility in casting a ballot. In addition to the state being part of Super Tuesday, when Alabama joins 13 other states in nominating a presidential candidate, there are also statewide and local races, as well as a proposed amendment to the state constitution.

For some of our students, this will be your first opportunity to vote. Our democracy and country is stronger with greater voter participation, and I welcome you to the process.

To get more information about tomorrow’s election, including finding out where you are registered to vote, you can visit the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office. That office also has sample ballots for each county.

Information also is available through the League of Women Voters at Vote411.

If you have not registered to vote, I encourage you to take the time to do so now to be able to participate in future elections.

Tony Waldrop, Ph.D.

January 30, 2020


Dear USA Students and Employees,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Cases have been confirmed in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States.

As we learn more each day about the coronavirus, I encourage students, faculty and staff to educate themselves about the virus, its symptoms and the geographic areas where the virus is most widespread. In particular, students and employees are urged to use caution when considering travel to areas where the virus is prevalent. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the CDC website at

Precautions for preventing transmission of the coronavirus are similar to prevention practices for flu and other respiratory illnesses. These include: frequently washing your hands; not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and routinely cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Symptoms of coronavirus can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying. The CDC believes symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

If you believe you have become ill from, or have been exposed to, this virus, please take appropriate precautions to not spread it. This includes staying in your dwelling and limiting your contact with other people. Employees should contact their primary care provider, and students should contact the USA Student Health Center at (251) 460-7151 or

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.
University of South Alabama