By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday the Board of Trustees (BOT) of Alabama State University accepted Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) recommendation that the BOT postpone any decision about embattled University President Joseph Silver’s future for 5 to 10 days and conduct an independent audit of ASU’s finances.
Gov. Bentley said in a written statement, “The issue before all of us now is to do what is best for Alabama State University. Toward that end, Chairman Dean has agreed with me that an independent and comprehensive financial audit of this university will be conducted immediately. That is a positive step in the right direction.”
Gov. Bentley said, “This University is vitally important to this community, to our state and to our nation. And we don’t ever need to lose sight that our students are our first priority. And we don’t need to forget that in any way. That is very important. Their education and their future are the reasons that we must stay focused on delivering a quality learning experience.”
Gov. Bentley said, “I was very proud and privileged to be here last week at the dedication of Alabama State’s beautiful new stadium. You only have to look around this campus to see the tremendous progress that Alabama State has made and continues to make every day.”
Gov. Bentley said, “I know this board is faced with some very difficult challenges. That’s why I have met with Chairman Dean and other members of the board. I have also met with the president of the Faculty Senate, the president of the Student Government Association and the head of the ASU National Alumni Association. In addition, I have met with and spoken with Dr. Silver to gain his perspective.” “The students, faculty, staff and alumni of Alabama State University, and all the people of this state, deserve transparency in everything that we do. And I am going to make sure that happens. “
Complicating the unpleasant situation was President Silver’s mother’s recent death. “Given the news, our board will not consider the primary item of our agenda today related to Dr. Silver. In my opinion, it would not be appropriate, and even more, it would not be respectful. Those discussions can wait until a later date,” Chairman Elton Dean said.
The audit of all University contracts will be conducted by Warren Averett Wilson Price in Montgomery and the BOT voted 7-2 to appoint past university President William Harris to serve as interim president.
Dr. Joseph Silver was hired to be the historically black college’s new President just this year. Silver had been provost at Clark University in Atlanta, GA; but support for Silver rapidly faded when he claimed that he had uncovered misuse of funds by influential people at the University.
At a previous dramatic BOT meeting on Monday, the BOT voted to place Silver on paid administrative leave. At the same meeting, an angry President Silver fired Alabama state Representative John Knight (D) from Montgomery as ASU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer by email using his i-phine. President Silver also sent a termination email to Danielle Kennedy, the vice president of university relations.
The email to Rep. Knight read, “As President of Alabama State University, I am terminating you as Executive Vice President, for cause and insubordination, effective immediately.”
ASU General Counsel Kenneth Thomas wrote in the Montgomery Advertiser that the termination letters do not meet state and federal due-process requirements. President Silver reportedly accused Rep. Knight of misuse of University funds at the Monday BOT meeting. After the Monday meeting, President Silver reportedly told local reportersthat he had been suspected because he had uncovered old bones.
ASU students have vocally supported President Silver and his call for an investigation.
On Thursday the Alabama Black Legislative Caucus had sent a letter to Bentley asking him not to get involved in this matter.