By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, July 25 Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) removed Alabama State University (ASU) Board of Trustees member circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins (D) after Wiggins refused to resign for the good of the school.
ASU BOT Chairman Elton Dean resigned at the governor’s request on Thursday, July 24.
In the letter to Wiggins Governor Bentley cited his executive authority to remove the BOT member for his conduct. Specifically Bentley said that Wiggins had a responsibility to tell ASU that his sister-in-law, Michelle Crawford, had been disbarred in North Carolina when she applied for a professorship at the Montgomery historically Black University (HBCU). Also the Governor said that Wiggins materially benefited by his wife, Zinna, receiving $30,000 from the school to run a two week day camp at the University, Camp Eagle.
The Montgomery Advertiser is reporting that Wiggins told them that he plans to appeal his removal pending talks with his attorneys.
The Montgomery Advertiser’s Josh Moon is reporting that Governor Bentley has appointed Ralph Ruggs to the BOT and is expected to call for new officer elections sometime this week. Mr. Ruggs is the director of the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority.
Not everyone in the extended ASU family is pleased with the recent actions by Governor Robert Bentley and ASU President Gwendolyn E. Boyd.
Former ASU BOT member and longtime ASU power broker, attorney Donald Watkins said on Facebook, “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.”
Watkins said of 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.”
Watkins cryptically threatened, “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.”
President Boyd released a statement previously distancing ASU from the controversial Watkins after ASU received a letter critical of earlier Watkins comments by U.S. Attorney George Beck. Watkins at the time claimed that he had negotiated an agreement with the FBI on behalf of ASU. An assertion that is being denied by Beck and the FBI.
Boyd wrote in her statement, “Mr. Watkins does not speak for Alabama State University. Mr. Watkins does not represent any executive officer at ASU. Mr. Watkins’ actions and comments do not represent Alabama State University. Mr. Watkins is not employed by ASU. As President of Alabama State University, I do not consult with Mr. Watkins or seek Mr. Watkins’ advice on any matter.”