Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

UAH President Dr. David B. Williams resigns… as predicted.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Regular readers of this blog will note that in an earlier entry entitled “UAH President Dr. David Williams to resign” which was published Wednesday, February 17, 2010, I predicted Williams’ resignation.

Today’s – Tuesday, March 15, 2011 – Huntsville Times front page headline which read “Williams surprises UAH with departure,” comes as no surprise at all.

UAH President David Williams resigns - HSV Times front page 3/15/11

UAH President David Williams resigns – Huntsville Times front page 3/15/11

What I found particularly interesting about the article was that the story written by Lee Roop – a very talented and gifted writer whose style I admire (Lee, if you’re reading this, I wish you’d write more “fun” stuff as you had previously) – had a different tenor than the sidebar entitled “Timeline: Dr. David Williams at UAH.” The timeline was essentially the ‘highlights’ of what was essentially, a very negative presidency. It wasn’t that the timeline was out of sorts with Williams’ so-called accomplishments, but that his brief history at UAH was continuously pock-marked characterized by strife, conflict, outrage by faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community alike. The capstone of his brief presidency was, perhaps, the Amy Bishop mass murder. As I had written, “Presided over the UAH Mass Murder” – That WILL NOT look good on a resume!”

March 2007 – “Immediately talks about increasing research ties with the Army at Redstone Arsenal.”
Translation: Criticizes the university & RSA’s efforts.

April 2008 – “Williams unveils his “Powers of 10” goals to increase research money, doctoral degrees, student population and other indicators.”
Translation: UAH has been a failure to this point.

March 2009 – “The Huntsville Times reports on campus frustration with Williams’ governing style. Williams cites the problems of leading after a national economic collapse. By now, the university has lost another $12.6 million in state funding.”
Translation: Williams’ bull-in-the-china-shop approach wins no friends, and he refuses to accept responsibility for failures that occur under his direction.

April 15, 2009 – Williams announces the hiring of former NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin to lead a new systems engineering center.
Translation: Williams announces a $350,000/year salary & automatic tenure mistake who will invent a contrivance which will waste more money than it brings in.

April 29, 2009 – “All 25 academic department chairs write an open letter expressing “deep and intense dissatisfaction with the way in which important decisions are being made” and claim “faculty morale is at an all-time low.”
Translation: In about two years into your presidency, you have already demonstrated your abysmal and utter disregard for faculty, students and staff.

Nov. 19, 2009 – “UAH announces it will require all freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. Fearing a loss of local students, the faculty senate considers a vote of censure.”
Translation: Further evidence that Williams has NO CLUE about leadership, and alienates himself from those whom he should support – not vice versa.

Jan. 8, 2010 – “Williams survives a 20-18 vote against censure in the faculty senate.”
Translation: You are STILL doing a crummy job, and we want to make damn sure you know it, buddy!

Feb. 12, 2010 – “An assistant biology professor, Dr. Amy Bishop, is accused of opening fire in a faculty meeting on campus, killing three professors and wounding three more, police say. Williams’ leadership in the weeks following wins high praise from trustees.
Translation: Not from students, faculty, staff or the community.

Feb. 28, 2010 – UAH bends on the housing policy and allows freshmen and sophomores to stay at home.
Translation: The students, parents, community, faculty, and staff were so outraged that the Alabama State Legislature almost enacted a law which would have negated Williams’ bull-headed requirement.

March 2010 – Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, former chair of the mechanical engineering department at the University of California, Riverside, is named dean of the UAH engineering program. It is, along with Griffin, one of several high-profile hires.
Translation: Even though one of Williams first acts was to fire many faculty, and staff whose efforts brought the university to it’s present status, he hires others at exorbitant salaries, and whom know little or nothing about this community or more importantly, the institution.

August 2010 – UAH announces enrollment has dipped only 1 percent, less than feared after the housing announcement and faculty shootings.
Translation: Williams’ plans are STILL experiencing failure.

February 2011 – UAH marks the one-year anniversary of the campus shootings.
Translation: Dr. David B. Williams name will forever be attached to that horrible tragedy.

March 14, 2011 – Williams announces his resignation effective April 1.
Translation: I’m the joker. Oh happy day! Hallelujah!

Ironically, even Williams’ departure shows NO REGARD for the students. Why? In about three months – June – UAH will be graduating another class of students, undergrad, and graduate alike. And whose signature will be upon the diplomas? Leave those students hanging. That solitary action really shows your lack of character. Great… just friggin’ great, Dave. You are a thoughtless cowardly quitter – among other things. At this juncture, I shall refrain from other vulgar or obscene pejoratives, though in my opinion, you are worthy of them all. Goodbye, and good riddance! A word of parting advice: Don’t let the door hit you on your butt on your way out!

UA System trustee & president pro tempore of the board Finis St. John IV said, “I’m not sure what his plans are, but we wish him very well in the future. There’s nothing more to it than that.” By that solitary remark, you can be assured there IS something “more to it than that.” St. John followed up his remark by saying that UA System trustees “have been hearing from the system office about what was going on for a little while.”

On of the first signs of Williams’ bull-in-the-china-shop approach was his unilateral decision to change the name of the university from “The University of Alabama in Huntsville,” to “UAHuntsville.” Interestingly, the newspaper, community members and others still refer to it as “UAH.”

The newspaper quoted Dr. Michael Griffin – whom Williams’ hired with automatic tenure, and at a salary only slightly below his as president, and which was several times more than Griffin was making as head of NASA – as saying “Dave is a natural leader…” etc., ad nauseam. Yeah, I suppose if you were lucky enough to get a job making several times more than what you made as Director of NASA, and with automatic tenure, you’d say ‘nice’ (suck up) things too. The BAD thing about Griffin is that he’s just like Dave – over educated idiot. (Misery loves company, you know.) The reader should bear in mind that I am not by any stretch of the imagination opposed to education, technical certification and skill. I am opposed to poor leadership – which is more appropriately termed ‘misleadership’.

I have been told by folks who were in attendance with Griffin at a local dinner fete that Griffin sat at the table  engrossed with his Blackberry the entire time, and said not one word to other guests in attendance. He made no attempt to engage in any social interaction. Griffin, by his own admission, has poor people skills, and shortly after the 2010 November General Election, he was reported by the Orlando Sentinel – eventually making worldwide news – that he had been engaged in a shouting match with the soon-to-be #2 in charge of NASA, Lori Garver, which episode was witnessed by several others – though they declined to give their names.

Griffin may be a technical expert – witness his numerous degrees – but he is a social misfit, and should NOT be an executive in charge of any people. And he is CERTAINLY overpaid. Williams had the gall and audacity to hire Griffin at a hugely exorbitant salary ($350,000 & automatic tenure) – which was only slightly below that of his as UAH President – even after firing many others at UAH, some of whom were only a few years away from retirement, and had made numerous longstanding contributions to the University – in stark contrast to Williams’ bull-in-the-china-shop mismanagement approach.

13 Responses to “UAH President Dr. David B. Williams resigns… as predicted.”

  1. Breeze:

    Discovered your site from conducting research on the UAH/Amy Bishop story. Like you, I was not surprised by the president’s resignation. I live in Bham and write Legal Schnauzer, a blog about justice issues in Alabama and beyond. Thought you might be interested in this post:

    Best regards,

    L. Schnauzer



    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Thanks for reading, Roger – and for taking the time to share your comments! The Bishop story in and of itself has caused significant and (though hopefully not) irreparable damage – financially, and of the good name and character of the university, and system. Regarding Bishop’s acumen as a researcher, there is significant evidence, and therefore reason to believe that she was NOT “all that, and a bag of chips.” The money which you referenced – $1.25M, I believe – came from, as you suggest – a private ‘angel investment’ firm. You may also be interested in the post dated 2/20/10, and entitled “Follow the Bishop Money Trail,” to which Dick Reeves, Chairman of Prodigy Biosystems, Inc. responded.


  2. Claudio said

    I really like your comments. Just one thing for you to know. Concerning Griffin, the media including you, considered this man an scholar. You would be amazed that you will not find a single research article written by himself. There is absolutely nothing. He is is a $350,000 flaw! This is perhaps one of the major mistakes of Williams : the misused of our limited resources.



    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Claudio, thank you for your readership, and for sharing your thoughts! To be certain, Griffin – as I have mentioned – has numerous degrees and accolades from educational institutions. And so I could be doubly certain, I examined the definition of scholar, which indicated that the preferred, or first, definition, characterizes a “learned or erudite person, especially one who has profound knowledge of a particular subject.” So, it would seem to me that – while by no means I am no fan of Griffin – he would fit that bill. Has he published research articles that bear his name as a lead researcher? That is a question to which I have no answer, which I suppose is what you allude to – specifically, Griffin not being a lead researcher. Has he published any research articles? That is another question to which I have no answer. And yet, I am in wholehearted agreement with the tenor of your sentiment, which is that Williams’ hiring of Griffin was “a $350,000 flaw… perhaps one of the major mistakes of Williams.


  3. upland622 said

    Mike is the author of a text book


    In the short time he has worked at UAHuntsville, he has brought in significantly more funding than his salary. Those that have taken the time to get to know him discover he is brilliant, sometimes blunt, often times hilarious, and always generous with his time and his talents.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Thanks for your readership, and for sharing the information on the book! Would you also share a few examples where Michael Griffin “has brought in significantly more funding than his salary“? If so, that’d be great!


      • upland622 said

        Thus far most of his competed funding has come from the defense agencies. Without getting into details, the new contracts are collaborations among private industry, other universities, and UAH, and the funding is worth an order of magnitude greater than his salary. To achieve six figure contracts is not common among research active professors, and to do so in less than 2 years from the point of being hired is unprecedented. The administration made a good judgment and investment in bringing Mike to UAH, and those faculty, staff, and students working with him are benefiting tremendously.


        • Warm Southern Breeze said

          Thanks for replying with that info, U22! While I would rather have preferred specifics – such as contract numbers, or titles of projects – I can take some satisfaction from your answer. So, while it is neither thorough nor precise, I can accept it with some semblance of face value – particularly given the fact that the Huntsville area economy thrives predominately on federal governmental largess. Again, I thank you for your readership and response!


  4. mark75hsv said

    Williams also dismantled a co-op program in 2009 that had produced 2 national co-op students of the year, most recently in 2006. That is something neither Auburn, nor UAT have ever accomplished.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Thanks for pointing this out, Mark. Williams was a much a disaster to UAH as was the disaster that occurred on his watch… the Amy Bishop mass murder. And I find that fact not merely coincidental, but wholly ironic.


  5. mark75hsv said

    Williams also dismantled a co-op program that had produced two national co-op students of the year, most recently in 2006. Auburn and UA-T have never produced even one national co-op student of the year. http://ceed.asee.org/index.php?section=SOY&page=Coop_Past_Winners


  6. hateUAH said

    I entered the school around the same time he did, so I was never there during a good time, but the ridiculous price per credit hour, the terrible school community, lack of leadership, and finishing around 80 credit hours just to say I have only had one decent teacher, who wasn’t full time, has made me hate UAH. I am transferring even though it will end up taking me longer to graduate. I have a previous Bachelors and am working on a second, and before someone thinks, oh, he said he had bad teachers, he must have failed, I’ve maintained a 3.8 gpa completely on my own. My teacher was google, and from communicating with other students (which is difficult because of the environment), google is not only the #1 teacher at UAH, it’s got every spot in the top 20. I was wondering if anybody knows how much this President who accomplished such amazing things during his leadership made per year? I had heard some ungodly numbers, and would like to know if they are true. Thanks for writing this article, very true, very sad.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! UAH has a soft place in my heart… for one reason, or another. And like you, I think we share some similarly defining characteristics. Criticism of any organization should be genuinely considered, if for no other reason than to eliminate the segment that do nothing more than habitually gripe, moan, groan & complain. Once their constant carping is invalidated, the remaining voices of dissent are those which deserve serious consideration. In the process to which you refer, the voices warranting serious consideration were quickly identified. I think it would very telling to examine the larger and total fiscal loss that David B. Williams cost the university.

      Since you identify as a 2d Bachelor’s student, I presume you’re probably an older, more mature student – and that is to your credit, which you may also use to your advantage, not only among students, but with professors, as well. Were I to offer words of encouragement and food for thought, it would be this: Consider the cost, not only of transferring, but emotional & community, as well – the psychosocial expense that such change could exert upon you. In consideration, seek the advice & thoughts of those whose life characteristics are similar to yours in any prospective change, either educationally or otherwise. Remember: You can do whatever you set your hand to do – but only with the help of others.


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