St. John accepting award
Board President pro tempore Scott Phelps (left) and Trustee Kenneth Simon (right) present the resolution to Chancellor Emeritus Finis E. St. John IV (middle).

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees bestowed the designation of Chancellor Emeritus to Finis E. St. John IV at its meeting on Friday, April 12, recognizing his extraordinary service to and indelible impact on the System. St. John has been as a pillar of the UA System’s leadership for over two decades, faithfully serving as both a trustee and Chancellor.

In 2018, St. John agreed to serve without compensation as Interim Chancellor and, in April 2019, was named the eighth Chancellor of the UA System. A visionary leader and champion of Systemwide unity, St. John’s tenure is distinguished by increased visibility of the System, stronger relationships amongst the System’s entities, and monumental growth within each of the System’s institutions. He used his deep ties with civic, governmental and business leaders on the local, state and national level to strengthen the System’s external relations, and under his leadership, the UAB Health System continued its statewide effort to provide affordable access to quality healthcare through strategic partnerships.

St. John being recognized
Chancellor Emeritus St. John receives a round of applause from meeting attendees.

St. John’s steady and thoughtful leadership was clearly demonstrated in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted regular operations and put the System’s core mission at risk. St. John spearheaded the development and implementation of a comprehensive health and safety plan that not only allowed the UA System’s institutions to open safely but served as a model for reopening campuses across the nation. Then-White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx visited Tuscaloosa and praised the System’s COVID-19 response plan, giving it “an extremely high grade,” and St. John was invited to represent public four-year institutions at the White House Summit on Safely Reopening America’s Schools.

Prior to serving as Chancellor, St. John served on the Board of Trustees for 17 years, playing an integral role in the UA System’s success during a period of unprecedented growth. He chaired the Physical Properties Committee, Athletics Committee and Legal Affairs Committee, served on the UAB Health System Board for over a decade, and served three consecutive terms as President pro tempore of the Board of Trustees. St. John was honored with the designation of trustee emeritus in 2019 in recognition of his lasting contributions.

 St. John spent much of his professional career prior to joining the System practicing law at one of Alabama’s oldest law firms, St. John & St. John LLC, in his hometown of Cullman, and he is a member of the distinguished American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a cum laude graduate of UA, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa, and a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he chaired the Moot Court Board.
The UA System is deeply grateful for Chancellor Emeritus St. John’s extraordinary service and indelible impact.