Bobby Lowder

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Robert E. "Bobby" Lowder (b. ca. 1944 in Alabama) is a former American banking executive, and founder and former longtime CEO of the failed Colonial Bank and Colonial BancGroup, Colonial Bank's former parent company. Lowder is an Auburn University alumnus, graduating with a B.S. in Finance in 1964. He is also a former long-serving trustee of Auburn.[1] The Lowder Business Building on Auburn's campus is sometimes thought to be named after him, but according to the AU website, the building is named for his parents, Edward L. and Catherine K. Lowder.[2]

Lowder was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Colonial BancGroup, positions he held for 25 years. In 2006, his total compensation was $2.77 million and his five-year compensation total was $11.23 million, making him one of the 50 most highly compensated banking executives in the United States at that time.[3] He retired from Colonial Bank on May 28, 2009, but remained on the Board of Trustees at Auburn University.

Colonial BancGroup was reported to be under Federal investigation for possible criminal activities of its financial dealings in its mortgage subsidiary in August, 2009,[4] and on August 14, 2009, Colonial Bank was shut down by banking regulators, with its deposits and branches purchased by BB&T. [5]

Board of Trustees controversy[edit]

In 2001, the Board of Trustees at Auburn summarily dismissed President William V. Muse, inspiring a widespread campus vote of no confidence in the Board. The widespread belief on campus was that Lowder exerted tight private control over the Board, and thus over the ostensibly public university, using his clout to place some of his close friends in positions of power.[6]

Jetgate Scandal[edit]

Lowder has long been regarded as one of the nation's most powerful college boosters and power-behind-the-scenes trustees at Auburn.[7][8] In 2003, when then-University President William Walker Jr. and athletic director David Housel secretly spoke with University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino about taking over Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville's job, it was Lowder's private jet which they flew to Louisville.[9]

Auburn University Board of Trustees, Removal[edit]

Lowder began serving on the Auburn University Board of Trustees in 1983. In the Spring of 2011, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley re-appointed Lowder for another term on the Board. According to sources [10] a civil lawsuit in the Lee County Circuit Court with claims that the appointment violated the state's Open Meetings Act. On Monday, May 16, 2011, Lowder contacted the Governor's Office asking his name, Robert "Bobby" Lowder, be withdrawn from consideration for reappointment.

Some claims suggest the Governor reappointed Lowder due to his wife's donation of $25,000 to the Bentley campaign on September 21, 2010. [11]

Lowder's tenure on the Auburn University Board of Trustees ended on April 10, 2012, when the Alabama state senate voted to replace him with M. Clark Sahlie. [12]

References[edit]