After more than eight years as the state Superintendent of Education, Ed Richardson will resign to become the interim president of Auburn University. The announcement came Thursday, following a meeting earlier in the week by the Auburn University Board of Trustees in which Richardson was asked to head the university until a more permanent replacement can be found.
Davis, who said she has enjoyed a good working relationship with Dr. Richardson over the years, said she was surprised, but feels the move will be a positive step for Auburn University.
“I have been suspecting there was something going on for the past three months,” said Davis. “Dr. Richardson has been awful quiet about sending notifications and other matters. I was shocked to learn he was going to resign and take the job at Auburn. But I think he will be a good one to bring the University through this SAC (accreditation) process.”
“This has been the most challenging and rewarding time in my 40 years as an educator,” said Richardson. “In a relatively short time, K-12 education has moved forward in Alabama. It has taken a determined state board, and the hard work of thousands of professional educators, administrators, and support staff to accomplish this task. The job is far from finished.”
Richardson added: “Ninety percent of all Alabama school children attend our public schools. It is my sincere hope that, as a state looking to the future, we will provide the needed resources and educational opportunities to help our students realize their individual dreams and become productive citizens. Our children are one investment we cannot shortchange.”
Among his many accomplishments since taking the state’s top K-12 education position in 1995, Superintendent Richardson oversaw the implementation of Alabama’s Education Accountability Law; provided leadership and programs to reduce the high school dropout rate to historic lows; implemented performance “report cards” for each school, school system, and the state; worked to restore teacher testing, and hold higher education teacher programs accountable for their graduates; strengthened Alabama’s high school graduation requirements to the most rigorous in the nation; launched the Alabama Reading Initiative and piloted the state’s new Math, Science, and Technology Initiative; aligned Career and Technical Education programs to business and industry standards; implemented background checks for those persons with unsupervised access to students; and improved student academic performance to all time highs.
Dr. Richardson has been a stalwart champion for our children,” said State Board Vice President and District Four Representative, Dr. Ethel Hall. “We will miss his leadership and his vision. The board wishes him well as he fills the vacancy at Auburn University.”
Following Richardson’s resignation, the state board named Deputy Superintendent of Education Dr. Joe Morton as its interim superintendent. Morton has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from The University of Alabama. Before becoming deputy superintendent in 1995, Morton served as the superintendent of education for Sylacauga City Schools and Sumter County Schools. He was named the outstanding superintendent of education in Alabama by three different organizations and was selected by The Executive Educator magazine as one of the top 100 school executives in North America.
“I’m pleased with Dr. Morton’s appointment to the post,” said Mrs. Davis. “I’ve known Joe Morton for a long time and I know he will make a good leader for our schools.