A Change in Leadership at Alabama State University in Montgomery

Gwendolyn-Boyd-thumbBy a vote of 8-6, the board of trustees of Alabama State University voted to suspend Gwendolyn Boyd from her position as president of the university. President Boyd was charged with “failure to maintain the confidence of the board.”

A hearing will be held on November 14 to determine Dr. Boyd’s future. Earlier in the week, President Boyd announced that due to the university’s financial situation, employees would be furloughed one day each month for the next year, meaning they would lose a day of pay.

Dr. Boyd became the first woman president of Alabama State University in February 2014. Just a year ago, the board extended her contract for three years.

Before being named president of Alabama State, Dr. Boyd was the executive assistant to the chief of staff of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland. She is the former president of the 200,000-member Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Dr. Boyd is a graduate of Alabama State University. She was the first African American to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University. She holds a second master’s degree and a doctorate from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

wilsonLeon C. Wilson, provost and vice president for academic affairs was named interim president. He issued a statement which read in part: “At this time, it is important that the Alabama State University family remains focused on our top priority and greatest treasure, which is our students. We will continue our educational agenda, and I, along with our leadership team, faculty and staff, will serve our students to the best of our ability.”

Before being named provost, Dr. Wilson served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the university. Before joining the administration at Alabama State University, Dr. Wilson was a professor and chair of the department of sociology at East Carolina University. Previously, he served on the sociology department faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit for nearly two decades.

Dr. Wilson is a graduate of the University of the Southern Caribbean on the island of Trinidad. He holds a master’s degree in religion and counseling from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan.


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  1. The reality of the matter is that these university Boards of Trustees rarely have a firm understanding of what is truly occurring at these institutions. When this happens they are blind sided and point the blame to the president’s office.

    The only solution I can think of is for the Board of Trustees at these institutions to take a page out of the corporate model and institute internal audit departments that report DIRECTLY to the board of trustees. This is the only way the board can ensure transparency and accuracy of information given to them to base their decisions.

    • Good approach “Reality Check”. That is if one can figure out how to navigate loyalties inherent in the culture at HBCUs.

  2. Joe Reed ran Alabama State University for years. The school was sued for sex discrimination and the case went all the way to the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Court asked, “Who is running Alabama State?” Now, I ask the same questions, “Who is running Alabama State University?”

  3. What do they mean by “failure to keep the confidence of the board”? Does that involve brown nosing? WOW! Once the insecure male leadership is shown how incompetent they are, they immediately blame the female in charge.
    That’s three female presidents in the last few months fired by Boards of Trustees at HBCUs. I guess, as in the presidential campaign, qualifications and ability mean nothing when men are involved.

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