FLORENCE, AL, December 18, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Robert Leslie Potts Sr., JD, with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Mr. Potts celebrates many years’ experience in his professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Beginning his career as a law clerk for the chief judge of the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of Alabama, after time off to earn an additional graduate law degree at Harvard University, Mr. Polls proceeded to enjoy a successful tenure practicing law in Florence, Alabama. He was a partner at Potts & Young Attorneys LLP between 1971 and 1984, where a significant part of his practice focused on K-12 and higher education matters. Thereafter, he served as general counsel for a state university system, and chief executive officer at two public universities and one state university system.
While practicing law, Mr. Potts was actively involved in the betterment of the legal profession and in particular bar examining. He served on many committees and as president of the Young Lawyers Section of the Alabama State Bar. He was appointed a member and subsequently chosen as chair of the Alabama Board of Bar Examiners and later as Chair of the National Conference of Bar Examiners where he was instrumental in gaining adoption of the Multistate Performance Test, now used by 43 states as a part of their bar exams. He also served a term in the American Bar Association House of Delegates. He was and is an active and committed participant in civil rights work, stemming from a chance meeting with Mr. Andrew Young in the Memphis Airport on the day Dr. M. 1. King had been assassinated.
His pathway into full-time academic employment was non-traditional. Mr. Potts taught on a part-time basis at Boston University, the University of Alabama and the University of North Alabama (UNA) while in graduate school and in his early days of practicing law. After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1976, and desiring to have broader positive impact than he could expect practicing law, he was drawn to higher education service. His chance came when in 1984 he was recruited to become the General Counsel of the University of Alabama System. He served in this capacity for six years where his signature accomplishment was creating and obtaining Board approval for a unified Office of Counsel for the entire system, in lieu of separate semi-autonomous groups of attorneys for each campus and the system office. In 1990, he was recruited to serve as interim president of the University of North Alabama, and after a subsequent national search was named as its president. In this capacity, Mr. Potts made substantial changes on campus, including reorganizing the administration, developing new academic programs, adding many campus physical improvements, and activating a dormant foundation with no assets to conduct the first university capital campaign and to become an important part of funding for the university. In 2004 he was selected as chancellor of the North Dakota University System. Thereafter, in 2006 he was selected as Arkansas State University’s Jonesboro campus first chancellor. Mr. Potts ultimately retired from Arkansas State in 2011 after serving for a short time as interim president of the ASU System. He had significant accomplishments in each of these posts.
Mr. Potts has published numerous articles in legal and educational journals, including The Chronicle of Higher Education. He has served on multiple committees as well, including as the chairperson of the Alabama Council of College and University Presidents, as the chairperson of the National ROTC Subcommittee for the Secretary of the Army, and on the Alabama Supreme Court Advisory Committee for the Rules of Civil Procedure. Additionally, Mr. Potts served as a trustee for Alabama State University and Oakwood College and is a past president of the Alabama Higher Education Loan Corporation. He also served as the chairperson of the board of the Alabama Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium that operates the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
To prepare for his career, Mr. Potts received a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Southern Adventist University in 1966 (after spending his sophomore years in England at Newbold College where he met his wife, Irene Johansson, from Sweden) and a Doctor of Jurisprudence at the University of Alabama in 1969, where he served as an editor of the Alabama Law Review. He also completed a Master of Laws degree at Harvard University in 1971. Mr. Potts has been admitted to practice law by the Alabama Supreme Court, and to practice before the U.S. Federal District Courts in Alabama, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. He was active as a board director of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, a commissioner of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and a member of the North Dakota State Board for Career and Technical Education, the North Dakota Commerce Cabinet and the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. In addition, he has participated in, and on some occasions led, accrediting team site visits for the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and for the U.S. Secretary of Education. Also, he served for a number of years on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
In recognition of his outstanding career, Mr. Potts has received multiple awards and recognitions. He recently was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from UNA, as well as the first ever Robert L. Potts Leadership Award, which will be presented annually to individuals who have contributed a significant amount of time, talent, and treasure to the university. The UNA Presidential Scholarship for Honors Program students was also co-named in his honor. In 2020 he was recognized by Arkansas State University with the Dr. Robert Potts Endowed Scholarship, which was named in his honor for service to the Beck Center for Veterans at ASU. In retirement, Potts owns and operates a real estate investment and management company, Realco, LLC.
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