Jacksonville State University inaugurated its 12th president Friday in the Pete Mathews Coliseum, officially recognizing John Beehler and the beginning of his tenure as the university president.

“I pledge to give my heart and soul to Jacksonville State University as together we pursue our bright future and bring JSU and our region of Northeastern Alabama to even greater levels of excellence,” Beehler said to the crowded arena of students, staff and alumni. “I will not let you down.”

He acknowledged his family, friends and mentors who helped get him to where he is today. Beehler thanked many of the professionals he has worked with throughout his career, including Dean Doyle Williams, who he credits for teaching him about servant leadership.

“‘The most important thing in life is serving others and having a positive impact on the organizations and people you serve.  When all is said and done at the end of life, it is only this impact that really counts in evaluating your life,’” Beehler said, quoting Williams.

Beehler has led the university as president since July 1, after past President William Meehan’s retirement. Beehler spoke of what he has learned during his first nine months, citing JSU’s culture, traditions, history, opportunities and challenges, as well as the abundant resources in the Northeast Alabama region.

The focus of his speech was the “TIES” that bind us together at JSU.

“We must be transformative. We must be innovative. We must be engaged for success,” he said. Beehler said that transforming the students at JSU into educated, ethical global citizens can help them transform the region intellectually, culturally, and economically. He said the university must also transform itself to focus on its continuous improvement, starting with individual employees.

Innovation is crucial for student success in the rapidly changing world of higher education, according to Beehler.

“We must find new ways to reach the current generation of students using technology to the fullest… and linking coursework to real practical workplace experiences,” he said.

Engagement requires participation from everyone involved with the university and will benefit student success greatly, Beehler explained. He referred to a Gallup Purdue survey that says strong engagement with faculty, staff, alumni, and other students leads to “great lives and great jobs.”

Beehler closed the inaugural ceremony by reinstating his commitment to the university.

“It’s not all about me, it’s not all about you, it’s about all of us – the Jacksonville State University Gamecock family,” he said.

Following the investiture, a reception was held in Meehan Towers to allow guests to meet the President Beehler, and the afternoon was concluded with open house tours of the newly-renovated president’s house, which is decorated as a “classic” southern home.

Before coming to JSU, Beehler graduated from Pennsylvania State University and earned an MBA in finance; he earned a Ph.D. in accounting and taxation from Indiana University. He has served in higher education for more than 30 years. His wife, Dr. Pamela Beehler, holds a Ph.D. in human performance and has over 30 years of experience in teaching and research.

Dustin Fox
Staff Writer

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