Trustee Norman Hill (c) presents $5,000 check from Volkert & Associates to AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., accompanied by Wendy Kobler (left), AAMU vice president for marketing, communications and advancement.
Huntsville, Ala. ---- The Alabama A&M University Board of Trustees on Friday, June 21, approved a $147 million budget, gave a nod to a two percent pay raise for faculty and staff, and agreed to forego an increase in tuition for the upcoming academic year.
AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., told the board and audience of approximately 40 people that while much had been accomplished at A&M since he assumed the post some four years ago, “there is still much to be done” and his leadership team remains committed to “staying the course.”
Hugine added that the institution’s finances have greatly improved since 2009, even despite declines in yearly state appropriations that mirror 2006 levels of around $40 million. The president also cited increases in instruction funding and more than $20 million allocated to address deferred maintenance.
The University’s endowment, noted Hugine, has significantly increased to $42 million, and the AAMU Foundation boasts the addition of four new influential members on its board of directors. These individuals include BG (Ret.) Phil Coker, director, integrated platform solutions, Northrop Grumman; Charles A. Cusack, CEO, Elizabeth B. Martin, senior vice president, National Bank of Commerce; Cusack & Associates, Inc.; and Raymond Young, Jr., CEO, Raymond Young & Associates, LLC.
To help provide incentives to a campus workforce that last saw a pay increase in 2006, Hugine pointed to programs that specifically honor long-time employees, administrative professionals, and faculty and staff excellence.
Among new hires, Hugine introduced Carlton Wright, director of bands, and Semeka Randall, women’s basketball coach. Wright told the board he will stress excellence and character among the band members and will place emphasis on the entirety of the band program, to include the various ensembles. Randall’s coaching skills were previously shared with Ohio and Cleveland State.
“We should all be proud of where the University is today compared to 2009,” commented Odysseus Lanier, president pro tempore of the board. Lanier lauded the remarkable turn-around brought about the administration teamwork, and he praised the group for making the “tough calls” in the best interest of the university.
Lanier added that fair, consistent, decisive and compassionate leadership is “the order of the day” at AAMU. The board head concluded that prudent stewardship of limited resources has been demonstrated, and he challenged naysayers “to re-examine what has been done” and “to move toward an ethos of selflessness.”
Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Daniel K. Wims reported that the Alabama Commission on Higher Education approved AAMU’s request to offer academic programs in cultural studies, entrepreneurship and sports management. About a dozen additional programs are in various stages of the ACHE approval process, which could range from three to 18 months. Additionally, agreements have been arranged that soon will lead to course offerings on the two-year college campuses of Concordia, Lawson State and Bishop State.
Wims further noted that a major challenge to the University’s continuing push for national (AASCB) accreditation of the College of Business and Public Affairs has been the unanticipated vacancies among the business faculty due to deaths, retirements and resignations. He also presented a listing of newly tenured/promoted faculty, retired faculty members accorded professor emeritus status, and the recipient of an honorary degree (Congresswoman Terri Sewell).
Ralph Johnson, AAMU vice president for business and finance, steered the board toward approval of a $147 million budget. Still, hiccups along the near-future path will include increases in health insurance and retirement, while some $1.4 million has been allocated for growing deferred maintenance needs. The board also approved the renewal of AAMU’s $3 million line of credit with BB&T Bank with a reduced interest rate of 2.95 percent.
Student Affairs Vice President Jeffery Burgin reported that hundreds of active and diverse co-operative education opportunities have been produced through Career Development Services for AAMU students. AAMU alumnus and trustee Lanier praised the work of CDS and noted the office’s impact on his own career success. He told Burgin that CDS should be a focus area.
The board agreed to the naming of the Austin-Pettaway Court in the T.M. Elmore Building in honor of former coaches Betty K. Austin and L. Vann Pettaway upon the completion of a five-year $222,000 pledge by the Bulldog Club.
Trustee Norman Hill presented a $5,000 check to Wendy Kobler, AAMU vice president for marketing, communication and advancement, from Volkert & Associates.
The meeting adjourned at 11:57 a.m.
- Jerome Saintjones