The slate of officers for Alabama A&M University’s Board of Trustees remains virtually unchanged as Trustee Odysseus Lanier enters his fourth term as President Pro Tempore, and Trustee Velma Tribue of Dothan, Ala., retains her role as Secretary of the board, although half of the group will soon face expiration of terms.
The board began its regular meeting in Birmingham, Ala., Friday, October 25, at the Birmingham Sheraton at 8:35 a.m. President Pro Tempore Lanier indicated that current subcommittee chairs also will remain in place. That means that Trustee Jerome Williams will still head the Academic Affairs subcommittee; Trustee Lucien Blankenship, Student Affairs; Trustee Velma Tribue, Business and Finance; Trustee Andre Taylor, Research, Development and Technology; Trustee John Hudson, Audit Committee; and Trustee Chris Robinson, Athletics.
Lanier said he was pleased with both the opportunity to provide continued service and the continued progress of the University. He cited in particular AAMU’s slight increase in fall enrollment, its improved institutional fiscal conditions, the preparation of a master plan, and the recent launching of a capital campaign.
“We are committed to our students” and improving their collegiate experience, said Lanier. He added that while there is still much to be done, he believes AAMU has “deposited sufficient capital” to positively impact its needed improvements.
Business and Finance
The board went on to approve the ratification of a policy change in the definition of part-time employee; to change the University health insurance plan to PEEHIP; to implement a residency requirement change in tuition policy; and to receive the master plan presented by consultants. That plan categorizes and identifies facilities deemed worthy of preservation, and recommends the consideration of demolition of those structures that are not.
However, AAMU retiree Bettye Thompson, speaking on behalf of advocates for the preservation of Councill Training School, told the board that members of the school’s supporters were “willing to take on the task” of restoring the building. Consultants tagged soft and hard costs and other contingencies for needed renovations at $6 million.
Board members also approved the addition of a new degree program in animal and biohealth sciences, along with four online degree programs. In her report, Faculty Senate President Jeanette Jones expressed gratitude for the two percent salary increase to faculty and staff, but added that the gain must be considered in connection with the employees’ six years without a cost of living adjustment and the furlough period. In addition to asking for a research incentive plan, she urged consideration by the board of reinstituting a plan calling for the raising of salaries to within 85 percent of Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) levels. Dr. Jones’ report also stressed the need for a university club (preferably Hillcrest, former president’s home) for faculty.
Research, Development and Technology
Following heavy discussion, the board approved granting the University authorization to establish the AAMU Research, Innovation, Science and Engineering Research Foundation (AAMU RISE). Further planning details will be addressed at the board’s upcoming special meeting in December.
The board will retain Banks, Finley and White as the external audit firm, and “no weapons” and smoke-free campus policies were adopted. Student Government Association Executive President Keith Williams said he is working to get at least 3,000 students to each give $1 as part of a challenge to be matched (up to $5,000) by several board members and President Andrew Hugine, Jr.
Dr. Hugine, during his report, noted measures aimed at containing costs and ensuring affordability for students, fundraising efforts, the recent meeting of the AAMU Foundation Board, and the progression of the Normalite Walkway on The Quad. Personalized pavers are available for $100 through $2,500, he said.
Trustee Chris Robinson will chair the board’s trustee nominating committee.
The board will meet on the AAMU campus Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 9 a.m.
- Jerome Saintjones