MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Gov. Robert Bentley has given two of the top trustees at Alabama State University until Thursday to resign.
Bentley emailed letters Tuesday to Chairman Elton Dean and Vice Chairman Marvin Wiggins, saying they need to resign for the best interests of the Montgomery university. Bentley, who serves as president of the Alabama State board by virtue of his office, did not say what he would do if they refuse, but he did note that state law calls for the removal of Alabama State trustees for financial conflicts of interest.
Bentley’s letter came one day after the president of the school’s Student Government Association called on the same two trustees to step down and one day after the president of the National Alumni Association voiced support for the students and new university President Gwendolyn Boyd, who has clashed with Dean.
Bentley’s letter also follows a six-month warning from an accreditation agency that cited conflicts of interest by Dean and Wiggins because their relatives had financial dealings with the university.
Repeated calls to Dean for comment were not answered. Wiggins, a circuit judge, was in court in Selma and not immediately available for comment, his assistant said.
In the six-month warning given by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, it noted that in addition to the conflicts of interest, the university’s financial standing had declined, with unrestricted net assets dropping by more than $10 million from 2012 to 2013. “ASU did not show care for its assets and how it managed its risks related to its financial resources,” the accrediting agency said in a letter to the university president.
In Bentley’s letters to the two trustees, he expressed disappointment that a proposal had been circulated among trustees, but not to him, that would provide for the removal of a trustee only for criminal acts and that would allow a committee chair to direct actions of the president.
“Out of deep concern for the future of ASU, the student body, its accreditation and financial standing, I am compelled to request your voluntary resignation as a member of the Board of Trustees of Alabama State University immediately. The deadline for response to this request is close of business, 5 p.m. Thursday, July 24, 2014,” the governor wrote.
The governor’s office provided Bentley’s letters after The Associated Press filed an open records request.
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