Bailey to speak on his linguistic studies Tuesday

Adrienne Burch

Former University of Alabama president Guy Bailey will give an overview of his work on Southern English Tuesday at 2 p.m. in 205 Gorgas Library. Bailey will return to the classroom this fall, teaching two courses in the English department: EN 320, an intro to linguistics course and a combination EN 423/523 course on the History of the English Language.

Bailey was hired as the new president of the University on July 11, 2012, and took over the position in September 2012. He stepped down just two months later on October 31, citing his wife’s ill health.

Despite his resignation, Bailey remains an employee of the University, continuing to draw a $535,000 salary per his employment agreement.

Though the University president never operates under an employment contract, Bailey’s original letter of understanding or appointment outlined his status as a tenured professor upon his hiring as president.

In a November 2012 interview with The Crimson White, UA Chancellor Robert Witt said Bailey would receive a paid developmental leave until August 2013, during which he could elect to return to the classroom as a professor.

This one-year paid sabbatical leave is outlined in Rule 309 of the Board of Trustees Board Manual, but the rule stipulates that the retreated president should have served five or more years.

In the November 2012 interview, Witt said the University was basing the decision on circumstances rather than Bailey’s length of tenure.

“I felt that the honorable thing for the University to do was to give him the same type of developmental leave appointment as if he had served here for years,” Witt said in the November 2012 interview.

According to Rule 309, Compensation Guidelines for Retreating Presidents and Chancellor, retreating presidents who have served five or more years can return to active faculty and receive a salary equal to that of the highest-paid faculty member in the individual’s department.

The manual states that retreating presidents who have not served five years are entitled to “compensation and benefits comparable to tenured faculty members at that department.”

Bailey was a first-generation college student from Montgomery, Ala. He graduated from the University in 1972 with a degree in English OVERSET FOLLOWS:and again in 1974 with a master’s in English. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Tennessee.

“Former president Guy Bailey is a scholar who also became an administrator but has continued with his academic research throughout his career,” linguistics professor Catherine Davies said.

Bailey studied linguistics while at the University with professor James MacMillan, one of the founders of Southern dialectology and chair of the UA English department in the 1970s. He also worked on the Linguistics Atlas of the Gulf States while attending UT, Davies said.

“He has been a prolific scholar in the sociolinguistics of Southern American English even while he has taken on important administrative jobs, and has made major contributions to our understanding of its history and development, including African American Vernacular English,” Davies said.

Throughout his career, Bailey has conducted various studies of different dialects across the country – one of his most known ones being a 17-year study he conducted with Patricia Cukor-Avila about the local language of a small Texas town renamed for privacy reasons as “Springville.”

Davies said Bailey will speak on Tuesday about the sociolinguistics of Southern American English.

“[It is] for anybody who is interested in the way we talk here in the Heart of Dixie,” Davies said.