Alabama Academy of Honor


Malcolm Portera

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2003.



Dr. Malcolm Portera was elected Chancellor of The University of Alabama System on November 9, 2001, and assumed his duties on January 1, 2002. After leading Mississippi State University in the late 1990s as its 16th president, Dr. Portera returned to Alabama as chief executive officer of Alabama's largest higher education enterprise. The University of Alabama System has a budget of almost $2 billion, with more than 42,0000 students and 21,900 employees. The UA System includes doctoral research universities in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville as well as the acclaimed UAB Health System.

Prior to joining Mississippi State, Dr. Portera worked in The University of Alabama's offices of academic affairs and research and served as executive assistant to two presidents before becoming a vice president. Following his tenure at The University of Alabama, he served as Vice Chancellor of External Affairs of The University of Alabama System and, upon his retirement from that position in 1996, launched a successful business development and strategic planning company.

Alabama Research Alliance, he serves on several corporate boards and economic development agencies. They include Governor Riley's newly formed Commission on Education Spending, PARCA Board of Directors, the Metropolitan Development Board, Operation New Birmingham, the Alabama Technology Network, Alabama Workforce Investment Board, Alabama Power Company, Protective Life Corporation, the Bryant-Jordan Scholar Athlete Foundation, the Southern Research Institute, and Regional Technology Strategies, Inc., of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Dr. Portera helped develop several new research and instructional programs during his long and successful tenure in Alabama. The Materials in Information Technology Program, which he helped create, achieved National Science Foundation recognition as an engineering and materials research center. His technology network initiative was designated a Manufacturing Extension Program by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Dr. Portera is a member of Japan's Foundation for Advanced Information and Research and co-founder of the International Business Advisory Board. His industrial development activities contributed to the location of $2.5 billion of capital investment in the Southeast. He is the 2003 recipient of the Japan American Society of Alabama's Samuel Ullman Award.

Chancellor Portera and his wife Olivia are natives of West Point, Mississippi. They have two sons: Andy, an attorney in Birmingham, and John Paul, a landscape architect in Tuscaloosa.