Wims Addresses AAMU Board for First Time as President
Board Holds February Meeting on Campus
Huntsville, Ala. ---- Dr. Daniel K. Wims addressed the Alabama A&M University Board of Trustees for the first time as the institution’s top officer on Friday, February 18, when trustees held their regularly scheduled meeting in AAMU’s Clyde Foster Auditorium.
Following the opening of the session at 10 a.m. by Board President Pro Tempore Jerome B. Williams, Wims introduced his 12-point “President’s Priorities.” The comprehensive list called for improvements to student-centered customer service; the shoring up of commitment to and focus on the University’s Strategic and Master Plans; boosting enrollment and retention rates; and strengthening stakeholder relationships and University giving. The plan also encompasses completing accreditation reaffirmation; expanding outreach efforts; addressing deferred maintenance and anticipating renovations and repairs; undergirding new construction via new funding sources and partnerships; and several other items.
President Wims said he expects key cabinet positions to be filled by the close of the current semester and noted that some positions have attracted more than 30 applicants. Meanwhile, additional constituent connections are being established through a new position heavily focused on governmental affairs, relations and communication. The president will receive additional input from the upcoming formation of an alumni advisory council and an existing coalition of local ministers. Additionally, Wims will facilitate AAMU’s increased involvement in local Chamber of Commerce activities.
Wims, AAMU’s former provost, also discussed AAMU’s ongoing collaborations with Mississippi State University, the University of South Alabama and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Trustees then received information from the Presidential Transition Team (Dr. Tonya Perry, chair); the SACSCOC Reaffirmation Committee (Dr. Malinda Swoope, facilitator); and the Presidential Investiture Committee (Dr. Jerome B. Williams, chair).
Board President Pro Tempore Williams paralleled Wims to Huntsville’s “rocket trajectory,” fueled by enthusiasm, imagination and dreams. He praised the new president for being persistent and challenging, adding that the Board is both supportive and expectant that the University will achieve new heights. Dr. Williams went on to applaud A&M faculty and staff for the sacrifices they have been making throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said that he envisions the formation of an association that will bring together trustees serving HBCUs within Alabama.
Trustees later approved an AAMU Online Code of Conduct and an online M.S. degree program in food science business within the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences. The body also approved the development of a Male for Alabama Education Research Institute within the College of Education, Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. The academic affairs and research agenda section was rounded out by the approval of collaborative agreements between AAMU and two Nigerian universities.
University Distinguished Professor of Biology, Faculty Senate President and Trustee Jeanette Jones acknowledged meetings with President Wims last November that allowed a clearer perception of his vision and advocacy for the faculty. In her role as a principal investigator, Dr. Jones introduced a new publication by ADVANCE (part of the NSF/University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alabama ADVANCE
Partnership for Achieving Gender Equity in STEM) and provided an update on the faculty’s investiture-related activities.
Making his last Board presentation, Student Government Association Executive President Austin Smith presented an in-depth listing of SGA activities related to COVID-19, voter registration and marketing initiatives, campus engagement and leadership transition.
The Board’s Governance Committee received approval to remove the AAMU Community Development Corporation from the University’s organizational chart.
The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Friday, June 24.