By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama State University’s search for a new President gets personal on Thursday.
The school has selected four finalists to fill the role and those candidates will be on campus to meet with various groups – and, presumably, students – on Thursday. A university spokesperson said Wednesday that all meetings held on campus with the finalists will be open to the public, as well.
State Sen. Quinton Ross is among the group and is considered the favorite to land the job. Ross is a three-time ASU grad, earning his Doctorate in education and serving as SGA president during the early 1990s. He was the runner-up for the job in 2013, when trustees instead selected Gwendolyn Boyd.
His history with the school and impressive interviews in 2013 are part of what make him the favorite. Aiding Ross is the fact that he’s the only candidate not facing questions about problems at his previous jobs.
The other three candidates are former Grambling State University President Willie Larkin, former Norfolk State University President Tony Atwater and former Johnson & Wales President Robert Mock Jr.
While all three men are accomplished educators, they have black marks in their past jobs that should make ASU officials nervous, considering the University’s recent problems.
Larkin was booted from Grambling after less than a year on the job when school officials learned he mislabeled a personal vacation to Cuba as an outreach trip in order to use Grambling funds to pay for it, according to HBCU Digest. Larkin was pushed out after a no-confidence vote from the faculty, which was also angry about his meddling in academic affairs.
Atwater was fired at Norfolk after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the same accrediting agency that provides ASU’s accreditation, placed the school on warning status and later on full probation due to problems with its administration. ASU recently had a two-term warning status lifted and University officials have no desire to leave SACS’ good graces.
Mock, in the meantime, worked his way up the collegiate administration ladder, finally landed a gig as President at Johnson & Wales, and then resigned less than a year into the job. And no one knows why.
Of the three, only Larkin, who graduated from Tuskegee, has ties to the state, and all three seemingly have zero experience successfully dealing with State Legislators.
A source close to the search committee told APR that the committee has placed high value on Ross’ experience in the Legislature and the relationships he has established on both sides of the aisle. After several years of turmoil, which was aided by Boyd’s ineffective negotiations with lawmakers, the committee believes it’s important that the next president foster a good, working relationship with State lawmakers.
Reached for comment, Ross said he didn’t want to comment publicly about the job, instead choosing to let the search process play out.