Jeff State President Judy Merritt retires

Published 2:46 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

After serving 35 years as president, Dr. Judy Merritt retired from Jefferson State Community College on June 30.

“Throughout her 50-year career, Judy Merritt has been an incredible leader who has touched countless lives,” Jefferson State Dean of Campus Development and Campus/Legal Services Keith Brown said. “She has devoted her life to making a difference in our community and improving the lives of others.”



Merritt was appointed president of Jefferson State Community College in 1979 by Gov. Fob James.

This appointment marked the first time a woman had been named president of a community college in Alabama.

With the exception of four years at Florida International University in Miami, Merritt has worked at Jefferson State since its beginning in 1965.

Through the years, Merritt has served on numerous boards and committees including the United Way of Central Alabama and the American Heart Association.

In the early 1980s, she was the first female appointed to the Bruno’s Inc. Board of Directors and, in 1993, the first female appointed as a corporate board member for Energen Corporation.

Merritt later became the only female on the SouthTrust Bank Board of Directors.

In 1993, she broke new ground again by becoming the first woman to chair the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

“Judy has always believed education is an individual’s pathway to achieving one’s goals and dreams,” Brown said. “She has worked tirelessly to make education more accessible and ensure the pathway to education is clear for all.”

Under Merritt’s leadership, Jefferson State has grown both geographically and in the number of students served.

When Merritt became president at Jefferson State, the college consisted of one campus located in the eastern area of Jefferson County.

Through her vision and ability to form partnerships, Jefferson State now has campuses in four counties, serves about 15,000 students per year and is a leader in education in Alabama and beyond.

Merritt’s leadership, care for others and service before self were noted as reasons why Jefferson State has helped many people throughout the years.