MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd says she's looking forward to the next three year after the decision Friday to renew her contract- a decision she says will allow her to continue work on projects geared at moving ASU forward.
The 8-6 vote to extend Gwendolyn Boyd's contract came during a Board of Trustees meeting Friday.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to complete the work. There's a lot that still needs to be done, a lot of work that still needs to go on," she said after the meeting.
Boyd took over as president in February 2014, coming back to ASU, her alma mater, from Johns Hopkins University. She is the first ASU female president.
Board Chair Locy Baker said the three-year extension to Boyd's contract will allow her to finish the work she's started versus "changing midstream."
"I think that we did a good job in order for the university to complete some things that we started and that way, we can move forward. I think she's doing a good job while she's here. All you have to do is look at the achievements we've accomplished already and we've gotten a letter from Moody congratulating us for not getting a downgrade. So that's good and we're moving in the right direction," he added.
Board member Angela McKenzie voiced her support of Boyd, but recognized that ASU has "challenges ahead" and a "hard road." McKenzie suggested that Boyd be offered a one-year extension with a two-year extension guarantee once ASU receives a successful review from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Her motion was shot down, but sparked lengthy discussion on the contract length.
Some board members also felt that three years was too long, considering that reports are still pending from its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.
ASU retained their accreditation for the 2015-2016 school year, but the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges ruled that the school will still remain on warning status for 12 months.
"We're putting the cart before the horse," one board member said.
In the end, the 3-year contract extension was approved for Boyd. Students in attendance were pleased with the decision to keep her at the helm of the university.
"Dr. Boyd has been here a little over a year and a half and she's definitely a phenomenal woman and she's definitely for the students. I do think that she needs more time to fulfill some of the things she wants to get done at ASU," said SGA President Jeremy Crum.
Boyd discussed her goals for the next several years, which include continued collaborations with Alabama corporations in an effort to produce graduates to fuel their workforce.
"It's important for us to work with corporations and as Alabama brings in more corporations to the state, we want to be attentive to the kind of people they need in their workforce so that we can produce those people here as a part of the majors here at Alabama State so we're going to be paying attention to that," she said.
She's also honing in on STEM (Science, Technology and Engineering and Math) and growing more scholars in those areas.
"To make us a STEM academy, a place where young people who are interested in doing computer science, doing cyber and doing engineering," she added.
Other actions Friday by the Board of Trustees included the approval of a $156.5 million budget for 2016, which includes an increase of $125 in student fees for the spring semester for technology and building maintenance. Student body leaders called the fee hike "disheartening," telling the board they already pay nearly $900 for the general services fee. They said the increase would not help with morale, enrollment or retention. Board members pledged to give the Student Government Association a breakdown of the fees and allocations.