Paul Hankins

During the past seven years, Paul Hankins has grown the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AAICU) into one of the best state independent college organizations in the country.

The retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general is being honored by the United States Sports Academy with a 2011 Distinguished Service Award for his leadership of an association that serves 14 independent higher education institutions in Alabama and for his tireless involvement in various non-profit and public organizations. The DSA is given annually by the Academy to those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to national or international sports through instruction, research or service.

At AAICU, Hankins is a strong advocate for progressive and innovative educational change. His work with the Governor’s staff and legislative leaders continues to examine possible solutions to the educational problems facing Alabama, with a focus on finding ways to make education affordable for students attending any institution of higher education in the state—public or private.

Previously, Hankins served more than 29 years in the Air Force. Before retiring from the military, Hankins was the Commander of the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools, serving as the university president for three separate educational arms of the U.S. Air Force. These organizations included the Air Force ROTC (18,000 students at 144 college and university locations), Air Force Junior ROTC (113,000 students in 744 high schools across the nation and internationally) and a post-graduate officers training program (3,500 students per year in resident, on-campus programs). In this capacity, Hankins provided leadership for 3,000 faculty and staff responsible for recruitment, curriculum and operations totaling $185 million.

A longtime athlete and advocate for youth sports, Hankins recently put together a public-private partnership to build a major soccer complex in Montgomery, Ala., that is scheduled to open by summer 2012. He is also a member of the Central Alabama Sports Commission charged with promoting the growth of sports and sporting events in the central part of the state. Hankins, an Eagle Scout, sits on several national and local boards, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges and as a Commissioner for the Montgomery Public Housing Authority. In September, he was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to serve as a board member of the state’s newly created Military Stability Foundation.

His military awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters.