By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) is reported as saying he will not vote to fire suspended Alabama State University (ASU) President, Dr. Joseph Silver on Friday. ASU’s Board of Trustees (BOT) is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Dunn Oliver Acadome board room at ASU.
According to original reporting by the Montgomery Advertiser leaked emails reported that the Trustees have already made the decision to fire the embattled University President even though there has been no public board meeting to address President Silver’s future. Gov. Bentley told the Advertiser that he had met with Silver three times and he liked President Silver, thought he was well qualified for the job, and that the changes Silver attempted to bring to the historically black college would be good for ASU. Bentley did acknowledge in the interview that there may be too much animosity between President Silver to work with the current Board of Trustees. Bentley said that Boards of Trustees do not run Universities they hire people to run the University and suggested that the ASU BOT may be too involved in the daily affairs of ASU. The full videotaped interview is available at ‘The Montgomery Advertiser’s website.
Governor Bentley just announced last Friday that he has ordered a forensic audit of ASU. That review will be conducted by Forensic Strategic Solutions, Inc., of Birmingham. Previously, ASU at Gov. Bentley’s request had ordered Warren Averett, LLC to do a thorough review of ASU’s contracts. As of press time, neither audit has been completed.
Last Friday Gov. Bentley said, “Alabama State is a world-class university that makes a positive difference in this community and in the lives of all the students it serves.
Recently, many people have expressed concerns about contracts and other matters surrounding the university. The students, faculty, staff and alumni of ASU, and all the people of this state, deserve transparency. I support continuing to use Warren Averett, LLC, to conduct the institution’s financial audit. However, I am engaging Forensic Strategic Solutions to conduct a separate analysis as well.”
Additionally Senator Dick Brewbaker (R), Representative Jay Love (R), and Senator Trip Pittman (R) have sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the interim President of ASU, Dr. William Harris, asking for copies of all “contracts, subcontracts, and expenditures” between ASU and public officials and their relatives.
Dr. Joseph Silver became President of Alabama State University in September. After he alleged that ASU had longstanding improper financial arrangements involving certain public officials, the new University President was suspended by the ASU BOT on November 26. Literally minutes before he was suspended, President Silver fired
Rep. John Knight (D) from Montgomery as the ASU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer by email using his i-phone. President Silver also sent a termination email to Danielle Kennedy, the vice president of university relations. An ASU attorney has since stated that the firings of Kennedy and Knight were a violation of University procedures and ASU has overruled those personnel actions by President Silver. The BOT appointed Knight as the interim University President. An ASU attorney later announced that the firings of Knight and Kennedy were void because Silver did not follow University procedures.
On November 27th, the Vice President for Business and Finance, Edward Patrick and Joyce Outler, the Senior Assistant to the President, were both suspended. Three days later they were both fired. University Vice President Danielle Kennedy said the two no longer work for Alabama State because the board of trustees did not approve their hiring. Patrick and Outler had previously worked at Clark Atlanta University with President Silver.
On November 30th, the BOT met again this time with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in attendance. The BOT 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. Silver meanwhile defends his conduct and says that the reason he has been punished is because he exposed “old bones” by questioning ASU’s contracts.