Bob Lowry/David Granger, 334/844-9999


AUBURN -- William F. Walker, president of Auburn University for the past 19 months, on Friday announced his immediate resignation as president, saying he hoped it would "mark the beginning of a new day at Auburn."

"I am grateful for the opportunity to have served Auburn University as its president and proud of all this institution has accomplished in my tenure," Walker said. "I'm grateful to the Board of Trustees for the leadership and guidance they have provided during my tenure and to all Auburn people who have supported our efforts to make Auburn better.

"I am hopeful that my decision to step down as president will mark the beginning of a new day at Auburn and that all members of the Auburn Family will put aside their differences and work together to refocus Auburn on its true land grant mission of instruction, outreach and research."

There was no immediate word on who would succeed Walker on an interim basis, although Donald Large, executive vice president, was expected to take over day-to-day duties until the Board of Trustees appoints an interim president.

The board is expected to meet as early as Tuesday to consider the appointment of an interim president.

"While there's been a lot of controversy over the last 45 days, Dr. Walker has, in his tenure as president, provided strong leadership to the benefit of the faculty and the university as a whole," said John Mouton, chair of the Faculty Senate. "Perhaps Auburn needed a catalytic event to unite its various constituencies. If so, I sincerely hope this is that event."

Mouton added that he hoped the AU faculty would have an opportunity to participate in the selection process for an interim president.

Walker, 66, came to Auburn as dean of the College of Engineering, and 11 years later was promoted to provost. He was named interim president on Feb. 12, 2001, succeeding William Muse, and elevated to president by unanimous vote of the AU Board of Trustees on June 3, 2002.

Despite his brief tenure, Walker quickly outlined a vision to ensure the university's financial soundness, focus its sense of mission and accountability and to rejuvenate the "Auburn Spirit" by improving communications with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Board of Trustees.

Despite the economic shockwaves being felt by higher education across the nation, Auburn remained on firm ground financially through prudent and innovative management guided by Walker.

Auburn's popularity with students combined with Walker's initiatives on tuition, scholarships and fundraising led Moody's Investment Services to assign AU the highest credit rating of any public university in the state.

Walker also supported and campaigned for Gov. Bob Riley's statewide tax and constitutional reform that would have benefit education at all levels in Alabama. And he advocated the position that Alabamašs research universities should be economic generators for the state.

Born Dec. 1, 1937, in Sherman, Texas, Walker earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He later got his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University.

He was on the faculty at Rice University when he was recruited to Auburn as dean of the College of Engineering.

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