Trustees Hold Annual Meeting in Birmingham
Board Elects Officers
The Alabama A&M University Board of Trustees elected Dr. Roderick DeWayne Watts to take on the helm of leadership during its fall meeting on Friday, October 28, in Birmingham, Ala.
Trustee Watts of Gadsden, Ala., will now hold the reins following the end of a long board tenure by former President Pro Tempore Jerome B. Williams of Birmingham. Watts, who served as the board’s vice president pro tem, is a naturopathic doctor and a 1986 graduate of Tuskegee University with degrees in biology and chemistry. He is a Certified Natural Health Professional (CNHP) and graduate of the Trinity School of Natural Health and the Loomis Institute of Digestive Health in Madison, Wis.
“I’d like to thank the board for having confidence in me,” commented Watts following a unanimous vote. He also thanked his wife Gloria for her consistent support. Trustees also elected alum Kevin Ball of Mobile as Vice President Pro Tem, edging out alum Trustee Nichelle Gainey of Birmingham, 6-5. Trustee Tiffany Johnson Cole of Tuskegee was elected unanimously to resume her role as Secretary to the Board.
The new president pro tem has served on several boards. Among his list of memberships and affiliations are Etowah County Department of Human Resources – board member; Gadsden City Board of Education – board member; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.; Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (The Boule’); Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity; and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations. Moreover, Watts is an author, a licensed pilot, inspirational speaker, and lecturer on numerous topics, with a concentration on health and wellness.
The board elected former Trustee Williams as Pro Tem in 2017. Throughout his leadership period, Williams was a strong proponent of initiatives related to affordability, capital improvement, employee compensation, easing deferred maintenance, strategic planning and expanding curriculum.
Along with his board responsibilities, Williams maintained involvement with a number of organizations, many in leadership roles. Some of the affiliations include: Alabama Veterinary Professionals Wellness Program, Magic City Boys Club, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Boulé), Jefferson County Veterinary Medical Association, Focus on Recovery, Hand In Paw, Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine Deans Advisory Council, and its Alumni Executive Council.
Williams’ last meeting was honored with a special video and presentations from the board and University.
In addition to recognizing Williams for his exemplary service to the board, AAMU President Daniel K. Wims also paid tribute to Trustee Chris Robinson for a lengthy tenure of commitment, engagement to various initiatives and innovation.
Robinson congratulated Watts and the new officers and stated that his 12-year tenure with the board presented overall “good challenges.” He said the board is indicative of a family, and he remains grateful the opportunity to serve.
University President Wims through administrators provided accreditation updates; the mid-November dates for ribbon cutting ceremonies for new campus facilities; and enrollment recaps and projections.
Faculty Senate President Jeanette Jones noted the completion of a successful academic year and a “harmonious and productive relationship” with the president stemming from full participation of faculty in a range of decision-making processes, such as selection of key administrators and new faculty, faculty representation on standing and ad hoc committees. Jones also said that faculty have played roles in retreats, extended cabinet meetings, advisory councils and the National Conference on HBCUs in Washington, D.C.
Finally, Dr. Jones introduced for board approval the naming of a bench in honor of alum Adrienne Pope Kelly Washington, her contributions to AAMU, and her leadership as she served as South Eastern Regional Director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. A bench for Washington’s service will be placed at Terry Hall, the women’s residential facility that bears the name of one of the sorority’s founders, AAMU English and history educator Harriet Josephine Terry.
Updates on Homecoming activities and other student activities were presented by Student Government Association Executive President Jaila Green-Mascotti.
The board also took actions on the following items that came before the body:
Business and Finance: Interim Vice President Lynda Batiste submitted action items involving line of credit, a gift deed correction and increasing the bid threshold option to $25,000.
Marketing, Communication and Advancement: VP Jamal Ali sought and received board approval to amend a current board policy on the naming of buildings, structures, streets and other geographical areas. The request comes as the University opens new facilities that offer branding opportunities.
The board will meet again in February 2023.
- J. Saintjones