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University of Alabama System names new leadership for external affairs

The University of Alabama System announced three new appointments to its Office of External Affairs on Tuesday.

The UA System includes the University of Alabama, Alabama at Birmingham,  Alabama at Huntsville and the UAB Health System.

From left to right, Charlie Taylor, Porter Bannister and Ray Cole

Charlie Taylor, former system director of external affairs at UA, was named vice chancellor for external affairs, and will now manage the government relations team for the system. Taylor received his B.A. in political science from Alabama in 2014, and his law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2017.

Porter Banister, who previously held positions in both legislative and executive branches of Alabama state government, was promoted to vice chancellor for state affairs. His duties will include being the liaison for economic development efforts statewide, as well as leading the UA System’s external affairs efforts in Montgomery.

The only new appointment from outside of the UA System, Ray Cole, was named the new vice chancellor for federal affairs, having joined the UA System from Van Scoyoc Associates, a government affairs firm. Cole will represent and advocate on behalf of the UA System on legislation and matters on the federal level, having spent 24 years managing government relations campaigns with his former employer.

“Working with our local, state and federal leaders is instrumental as we continue advancing The University of Alabama System’s mission to improve the lives of all Alabamians through teaching, research and service,” said UA System Chancellor Finis St. John in a statement.

“Charlie, Porter and Ray are highly accomplished leaders in this field, and their efforts will reinforce the UA System’s steadfast commitment to enhancing the quality of education and healthcare in our state.”

The new appointments come after the former UA System senior vice chancellor for external affairs, Clay Ryan, left for a position with Alabama Power Company. Scott Phelps, UA System Board of Trustees president pro tempore, thanked Ryan for his years of leadership, calling them “tremendous.”

“The UA System plays a pivotal role in the continuous growth and development of the state of Alabama, and I look forward to our talented external affairs team continuing the work that provides crucial support to our institutions,” Phelps said.

With more than 45,000 employees, the UA System is the single-largest employer in the state, and according to its own data, creates an economic impact of more than $15 billion a year.

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