Alabama Trustee Removal Laws Nearly Exclusive to State Black Colleges

The Montgomery Advertiser today reports on the ongoing leadership turmoil at Alabama State University with a feature on the laws surrounding gubernatorial oversight of its board.

According to the Advertiser, Alabama State and Alabama A&M University are among a handful of colleges and universities subject to sweeping leadership oversight prerogative from the office of the governor. The rules do not apply to several of the state’s larger, predominantly white institutions, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University.

The reasons for the disparities, which predate both Gov. Bentley and the controversies at ASU, are complex, incorporating the state’s shameful racial history, the provisions of the 1901 state constitution and good faith attempts to give some of Alabama’s institutions of higher learning a degree of independence from state bodies.

However, some black lawmakers consider it a double standard.

“This is an atrocious standard,” said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma. “With nearly all the majority white universities, there’s no such law. But the two major African-American universities have this provision.” (Tuskegee University is a state-related private institution.)

The law for trustee removal reads as:

Alabama State University, Alabama A&M: “It shall be unlawful for any member of the board to derive financial benefit in any form from a contract or transaction affecting the interest of the university; to procure, or to be a party in any way, to procuring the appointment of any relative to any position of financial trust or profit; or to influence the appointment or reappointment, retention, dismissal or compensation of any employee of the university except through the prescribed procedures for such purposes. The violation of this provision shall subject the member so offending to removal by the governor or the board.”