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Sources: ASU trustees plan to terminate Boyd

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama State University Board of Trustees are expected to terminate university president Gwendolyn Boyd at meeting Monday afternoon, several sources close to the board have told APR.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a majority of the board’s 14 trustees have become dissatisfied with the third-year president and will use Monday’s meeting to make their case to terminate Boyd for “failure to maintain the confidence of the board.”

During a trustee meeting two weeks ago, board members said “a list of charges” would be provided to Boyd early last week. APR filed an Alabama Open Records Act request for that document but received no reply from university counsel.

The trustees placed Boyd on administrative leave at that meeting and turned operation of ASU over to provost Leon Wilson.

A source close to the board said the meeting Monday will not be trustees leveling charges against Boyd, but will instead be their opportunity to explain the single charge against her – failure to maintain the board’s confidence.

“That’s the only charge, and that charge is enough to terminate her; that’s part of her contract,” the source said.

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Boyd’s relationship with the ASU board has been tumultuous almost from the start – a problem that has plagued many previous ASU presidents. However, Boyd hasn’t necessarily fallen victim to the usual tug of war between the same old factions at ASU.

During her short time as president, ASU’s board has experienced massive turnover. In total, nine current members weren’t on the board when she was named president, and many of the current trustees were considered to be unbiased and even pro-Boyd.

Their relationship with Boyd deteriorated quickly and many have listed the same issue – that Boyd refused to respond to trustees’ request for information and to answer their questions. Those questions ranged from the mundane – asking for lists of new hires, salaries and other information relevant to the operation of the university – to the controversial – such requests for Boyd to provide proof that hires were critical.

There was also nearly immediate friction between Boyd and other trustees, including several who are no longer on the board. Those issues mostly were related to Boyd’s relationship with Gov. Robert Bentley, who supported her candidacy for the position, during a tumultuous time at ASU.

Several longtime ASU trustees and other high-ranking officials were in a long-running feud with Bentley, as the governor directed a forensic investigation at the school. That investigation eventually led to grand jury interviews and allegations of fraud. (Those allegations have never proven true.)

But the investigations upended the operation of ASU, as the accrediting agency and credit agencies downgraded the school. That cost it millions of dollars and threw Boyd’s tenure into further turmoil. Trustees noted many of the existing issues when they offered Boyd a three-year extension in Sept. 2015.

However, Boyd also suffered from self-inflicted wounds, such as a silly dispute over her car allowance and nearly constant bickering with the trustees over hiring high-salary employees.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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