A new student residence hall at The University of Alabama will bear the name of one of the state’s most admired civic leaders – John H. England Jr., who is known for decades of distinguished service as a judge and a member of The University of Alabama System’s Board of Trustees.
Board members honored England at a surprise ceremony Friday, Feb. 8, on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham during a two-day Board meeting. They praised his far-reaching impact on the System’s institutions and on individuals across Alabama.
“Alabama has no finer citizen or public servant than John England,” Interim UA System Chancellor Fess St. John said. “He leads by example with integrity, wisdom and vision. This is a great day in the history of our system. I join with Judge England’s friends and family in congratulating him on this well-deserved honor.”
UA System Board President Pro Tempore Ron Gray said John England Jr. Hall will be an enduring campus landmark that symbolizes his many significant contributions to the system and the state.
“It is a great honor to serve with Judge England on the Board of Trustees and witness first-hand the strength of his character and the depth of his commitment to our students and their success,” Gray said.
UA’s newest freshman residence hall, which has nearly 500 beds and features modern amenities, is located in the heart of campus, near Ferguson Center and the Lakeside Dining facility. The hall opened last fall.
“Judge England serves as a wonderful example to others, and his insights, experience and untiring compassion for UA students, faculty, staff and the citizens of Alabama reflect the mission of the UA System to impact others through excellence in teaching, research and service,” UA President Dr. Stuart R. Bell said.
Dr. Bell added that he hopes that “those who see John England’s name on this hall will aspire to his legendary commitment to service and leadership.”
During a career filled with accomplishments, England has served in many leadership roles both at the state and local levels. He joined The UA System’s Board of Trustees in 1998 and represents the 7th Congressional District.
A native of Uniontown, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Tuskegee Institute, before serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
England was among the first African Americans admitted to what is now known as the Hugh F. Culverhouse School of Law at UA, where he earned a law degree in 1974. Last year, he was presented with the Law School’s Sam W. Pipes Distinguished Alumnus Award.
A former justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, England was elected to two terms on the Tuscaloosa City Council and today serves as a Circuit Judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from Tuskegee University.
‘HEART AND SOUL’
In an emotional tribute to his friend and colleague during the Board meeting, Trustee Joseph Espy III recounted England’s tireless support of the System and its institutions as well as his contributions to many organizations across the state.
“Today, we honor a person who is a dedicated public servant and community leader, who is active in his church, a family man, and a friend highly respected by all of us,” Espy said.
Trustee Emeritus John McMahon Jr., with served with England on the UA System governing board, added that placing John England’s name on the UA residence hall is “a permanent testament” to his accomplishments with the System. “In a quiet way, he was the heart and soul of the Board of Trustees during the years I was on there,” McMahon said.
In remarks after the vote, England confessed that the Board’s action caught him by surprise. He thanked his fellow Trustees and admitted to his family, friends and colleagues who filled the room at the UAB Hill Student Center: “Y’all got me this time.”