Alabama A&M University and President Andrew Hugine agreed to a contract extension this week, with a unique clause designed to make his term of service among the most permanent in the HBCU community.
With a three-year extension of his current deal, Dr. Hugine will extend his stay at AAMU through 2023. And if another school hopes to hire him away, they will pay AAMU a $1 million severance fee.
“We as a board have chosen to be deliberate in creating an environment that promotes leadership stability,” said AAMU Board President Pro Tempore Jerome B. Williams. “We consider Dr. Hugine to be a valuable asset. He has done an excellent job, and has also assembled a leadership team that is taking the University into the future. I am very pleased with the milestones we have reached over the past few years as a board by working with the administration and university stakeholders. We certainly do not take his leadership for granted and this extension is a testament to that.”
The extension underscores significant gains at the land-grant institution over Dr. Hugine’s nine-year term. The school has quietly grown its profile as a valuable regional asset in agriculture and STEM training. Fluctuation in state appropriations and enrollment, crooked former governor Robert Bentley’s attempts to disrupt the school through administrative interference, and tension early in his tenure never broke Dr. Hugine’s hold on leadership or the board’s faith in the school’s direction.
Dr. Hugine’s success is the latest example of growing stability among presidents and boards at HBCUs nationwide. It is almost a rebellious position from public HBCU executives, who for years have suffered from the pressure created by legislators to dismantle HBCUs through firing staff and faculty members, drastically changing strategic planning, and silently conceding in the face of bad legislative policy.
Schools like Florida A&M University, South Carolina State University, Albany State University and Southern University, all campuses where politics have created significant controversies and disruption over the last decade, have a long way to go.
But AAMU is emerging as an example of how to navigate the political maze. In nine years, enrollment has grown by 20%; the school executed a capital campaign which raised more than $27 million, and the school’s endowment now approaches $50 million.
No public HBCU will ever find immunity from all of the forces generated by elected officials, students and alumni. But AAMU, and other HBCU boards and presidents deserve credit for putting institutional growth over personal gain, all while setting new standards for how HBCUs can thrive in the 21st century.
“I am thankful for the continued confidence placed in me by the board,” said Dr. Hugine in a release. “The success experienced at Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University is due to the hard work and dedication of the leadership team, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders who believe in the mission and vision of this great institution. At Alabama A&M, our motto is Service is Sovereignty and being able to serve our students and assist them in their pursuit of a quality education is what ultimately motivates the work that we do.”