About the Shelby Institute

The Shelby Institute will identify and prepare the next generation of great leaders through the understanding of public policy and the exploration of the fundamentals of leadership in modern society.

About the Shelby Institute


Photo of Finis E. St. James, IV

Finis E. St. John, IV

Executive Director

A long-time leader of the University of Alabama System, Fess St. John has a deep understanding of the essential value of rigorous educational programs that prepare students for success in life. As chancellor of the UA System from 2018–2024, St. John served as chief executive officer of the state’s largest higher education enterprise and gained national recognition for his leadership in higher education.

The UA System experienced record-breaking growth under St. John’s leadership in areas ranging from research and development to annual economic impact. Despite national trends, enrollment across the UA System remained steady under St. John’s leadership, and there was only one marginal increase in tuition for Alabama residents during his six-year tenure as chancellor. These initiatives contributed to the UA System’s ability to provide accessible and quality education to nearly 70,000 students.

Prior to becoming chancellor, St. John served on the UA System Board of Trustees for 17 years, including three consecutive terms as president pro tempore. During that time, he also practiced law at one of Alabama’s oldest law firms, St. John & St. John LLC, in his hometown of Cullman. He comes from a family with a long and distinguished history of public service.

St. John is a cum laude graduate of UA, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is also a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a member of the distinguished American College of Trial Lawyers.

Dr. Mark E. Brandon

Academic Director

Dr. Daniela Susnara

Program Director

Caroline Carpenter

Director of Operations

Board of Advisors

Stewart Hall, Chair2024-2029
Jackson Boyd2024-2029
Anne Caldwell2024-2028
Ray Cole2024-2028
Watson Donald2024-2027
Jonathan Graffeo2024-2027
LaFreeda Jordan2024-2028
Joe Perkins2024-2028
Anna Shelby2024-2029
Tom Young2024-2029
Mark FoleyEx Officio
Joe SmithEx Officio

Shelby Collection

“I hope that these materials will facilitate academic research for scholars and students of law, history, policy, political science and other fields, as I believe one of the most important investments we make is in our classrooms.”

Sen. Richard Shelby

Shelby Collection materials in display boxes.

Following his retirement in 2023, Senator Shelby generously contributed all his official Senate papers, records, and materials to The University of Alabama. As custodians of this invaluable collection, we aim to facilitate research, preserve knowledge and inspire future generations.

The acquisition of Shelby’s papers served as a catalyst for The University of Alabama to establish the Institute along with novel academic, leadership and scholarly research programs. These initiatives aim to offer students, faculty and staff valuable opportunities to interact with influential politicians and policy professionals.

The University is committed to the thorough archival of Senator Shelby’s papers, aiming to create a comprehensive database for scholarly research. This archival collection holds a diverse array of materials, including 700 boxes of physical records, 156 GB of electronic materials, two TB of television interviews stored on an external hard drive and various physical awards and pictures. This extensive collection serves as a valuable resource for researchers seeking insights into Senator Shelby’s multifaceted contributions and experiences.