Happy to stay

Published 9:18 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It was a sad day for Alabama, but it wasn’t so sad for Troy University.

At least that’s what one of Troy’s Board of Trustees members said at a press conference Wednesday where Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said he would not seek the office of governor in 2010.

After speculations have spread for more than a year on whether Hawkins would run for election in the state’s highest office, he put those rumors to rest Wednesday.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

But, the decision didn’t come without much consideration.

“I’ve never said I wanted to be a governor, but I have repeatedly said I’m interested in good government,” Hawkins said.

“It was frankly never my idea. I was approached more than a year ago by a group, and it sort of took a life of its own.”

Even if it wasn’t his idea though, Hawkins said seeking the office wasn’t an idea he shunned away without some careful thought.

“Before you cut, you better measure several times,” Hawkins said.

And so through the last year, Hawkins said he has met with political consultants, legislators and even Gov. Bob Riley, always keeping the option open.

“People would approach me and say, ‘Are you going to run?’” Hawkins said.

“And I would simply say that I haven’t said no yet — that yet occurred today.”

While it wasn’t just one thing that swayed Hawkins’ final decision, it ultimately all boiled down to his passion — Troy University.

“As simple as this may sound, I was told if you don’t have a passion to do it, don’t do it,” Hawkins said.

“Upon reflection, however, I decided I am far more passionate about Troy University than I am about being a candidate for political office.”

Hawkins said he will continue devoting full attention to the university’s development, and he plans to remain chancellor even beyond 2010, the year he is set to retire.

“I have expressed an interest in me staying here, and as long as the Board of Trustees will have me and my health is good, I will do that,” Hawkins said.

A university vision passed by the Board of Trustees is also set to expire in 2010, a vision that has already brought things like a new student housing, new academic buildings and the first-ever doctorate program.

But Hawkins has plans that reach much further than two years — plans for increased enrollment, new academic programs and new facilities.

In the more immediate future, Hawkins said some of that growth will come in the renovations of Bibb Graves Hall, the construction of a new dining facility and a new basketball arena, all expected to begin within the next three years.