Fmr. ASU board member: I regret picking Boyd as president - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Fmr. ASU board member: I regret picking Boyd as president

File Photo: Donald Watkins (Source: WSFA 12 News) File Photo: Donald Watkins (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) -

One of the members who was on the committee that helped select the new president of Alabama State University is now saying he regrets his decision.

Donald Watkins, who is a former Board of Trustee member, posted on his Facebook on Sunday that he made a mistake in selecting Gwendolyn Boyd as the new president of ASU.

Watkins' Facebook post stated:

I want to publicly apologize to the entire Alabama State University family. I made a serious error in judgment when I nominated Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd and asked the board of trustees to elect her as president of ASU. At the time, I sincerely believed that Dr. Boyd was qualified for the position. I have since learned that her prior executive experience was greatly exaggerated and that her administrative skills are sorely lacking for what is required to be an effective president at ASU.

When the search for a president began in March 2013, ASU was on top of the world. She was an ultramodern, well-run, and well-respected urban university. ASU had an "A" category credit rating on Wall Street, Level-Six accreditation from its accrediting agency, and the longest string of unqualified annual financial audits for an HBCU.

ASU required an experienced administrator as president because the University was one of the few HBCUs in America that had achieved parity with HWCUs of comparable size, generating an annual economic impact of $1 billion. In essence, ASU was the pride and joy of black Alabamians.

While Dr. Boyd had never led any type of educational institutional, I thought she had the aptitude and attitude to be successfully groomed for the position by those who had high-level experience in running major institutions. By all objective measures, ASU had reached heights as a university that no HBCU had ever experienced. U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy, the distinguished jurist who presided over the decades-long higher education desegregation case in Alabama, praised ASU's transformation from a small unaccredited college for "Negroes" to a diverse, doctoral degree granting institution with nationally recognized centers for academic excellence. Across America and around the globe, ASU was to black America what Notre Dame is to Catholic America – the best of the best.

Then came Boyd. As soon as she finished taking the oath of office as president, Dr. Boyd swore her allegiance to Tea Party Republican Governor Robert Bentley. Bentley supports Dr. Boyd with the same vigor and muscle that George "Daddy" Bush supported Clarence Thomas. With the Governor's encouragement and backing, Boyd immediately distanced herself from every ASU official who contributed to the University's astounding success. She routinely treats ASU trustees like political outcasts. Her level of disrespect for the trustees and their historic contribution to the growth and transformation of ASU is obvious, insulting, and embarrassing.

By removing any member of the board of trustees who discharges his/her statutory duty by questioning Boyd's administrative actions and extravagant expenditures, Bentley has established an "Imperial Presidency" in Boyd. After Bentley forced the resignation of Board Chairman Elton Dean and removed Vice-Chairman Marvin Wiggins from the board last week, the message from Bentley to the remaining trustees was clear – leave Dr. Boyd alone; she is the Governor's overseer at ASU; and she is untouchable. For the first time in its history, the board of trustees is now afraid to exercise its independent supervisory role at ASU. As a result, Dr. Boyd reports only to Bentley, whose demonstrated loyalty and devotion is to the University of Alabama, not ASU.

The Bentley-Boyd relationship is an "unholy" alliance. Nothing good will come out of it. The Tea Party crowd has no affinity for African Americans. Furthermore, Bentley has never brought a dime of new funding to ASU, nor has he ever delivered a new academic program to the University. His job is to protect and serve the institutional interests of the University of Alabama, and he does it well.

During the past six months, I have discovered that Dr. Boyd, though a wonderfully affable woman, simply lacks the administrative skills to be president of any university. Dr. Boyd was passed over for the presidency of a smaller HBCU several years ago. This college discovered what ASU overlooked – that Dr. Boyd was unqualified for the job. While she has quickly mastered the ceremonial aspects of the presidency, Dr. Boyd has failed to display the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with running a major university, especially one that is under a gubernatorial attack. Thus, I fear that Dr. Boyd does not know how to protect the University's Level-Six accreditation, its Wall Street credit rating, and the host of academic achievements delivered to ASU by prior presidents, administrators, and trustees.

Apart from lacking the requisite skills to be an effective university president, Dr. Boyd, who is paid a full-time annual salary of $300,000, is actually a part-time executive employee. She works for ASU about four days per week. Dr. Boyd sprints out of town every Thursday or Friday to advance her ministerial career. When she leaves town, no trustee knows where she is going. She makes no prior request for permission to travel nor does she seek approval of her travel expenses by the board of trustees. For the first time in ASU's history, we are dealing with a "drop-in" president.

Dr. Boyd has also proven to be ineffective in carrying out one of the most important functions of the presidency – fundraising. In her first 100 days, she only raised $26,500 – a pathetic performance by the University's chief fundraiser. This amount barely covers the cost of the sworn officers who regularly chauffeur Dr. Boyd around Montgomery while racking up overtime pay that is expected to exceed $50,000 in her first full year as president. A feature story in this morning's Montgomery Advertiser shows just how expensive it is to drive Dr. Boyd around town. What is more, Dr. Boyd collects a $1,000 per month car allowance even though she is chauffeured everywhere. This is "double-dipping", which is prohibited under Alabama law.

Interestingly, Dr. Boyd has reportedly experienced fundraising success in her efforts to raise money for her weeklong inauguration activities and balls, which are planned for September. I would like to remind Dr. Boyd that this is not the time to glorify a president. Bentley has done a good job of that with the establishment of the Imperial Presidency.

Finally, I am told that Dr. Boyd harbors a deep, personal secret. I believe Bentley knows about this secret and uses it as leverage to control Dr. Boyd. Others are starting to privately talk about this secret. I think it will come out over time.

In light of these factors, I have concluded that nominating Dr. Boyd as the president of ASU was a mistake. I am doing my part to correct this mistake. I sincerely appreciate Dr. Boyd's talents as a motivational speaker and her photogenic Instagram pictures with students and dignitaries. However, ASU needs a full-time president who has substance as a chief executive officer and the ability to solve difficult problems. Cheering up a crowd of supporters, posing for photographs, and hugging students are the easy aspects of the job. The ability to return ASU to greatness in the face of a vicious gubernatorial assault is what the University needs, and this is the key ability that Dr. Boyd lacks. I thought she would be a great president. In reality, Dr. Boyd's selection as president is the university's greatest mistake.

Earlier this year, Boyd reportedly began distancing herself from Watkins due to a controversy involving the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

WSFA 12 News has reached out to ASU and President Boyd for a response, but has not received one at this point.

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