ASU assembles search committee to find new president

ASU assembles search committee to find new president

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Alabama State University's Board of Trustees officially started the process, Thursday, of replacing its embattled former President Dr. Joseph Silver.

Gov. Robert Bentley and Board Chairman Elton Dean presented to the board a 15 member committee to find the next university president.

"I think this committee is a great committee and we know it will do what's best for Alabama State" Gov. Bentley said.

The committee will begin work in the next few weeks and is chaired by Judge Marvin Wiggins, a member of the ASU Board.

"We want to find the best person, who will get along with everybody" said Elton Dean.

Gov. Bentley made it a point to be involved in the process to find the next ASU president. In the days following Silver's placement on administrative leave, the governor told reporters during a briefing, "I didn't even know that Alabama State had hired a new president."

He also voiced his frustration that he wasn't even listed on the university's website as being the ex-officio of the ASU Board of Trustees. Gov. Bentley holds that position by virtue of his office on all state university governing boards.

When asked what kind of input he had in assembling the presidential search committee, Gov. Bentley said, "I had a lot of input on who was chosen. I'm not saying that I chose everyone but I had a lot of input into who was chosen."

It's been one month since the board reached a separation agreement with Dr. Joseph Silver, who was placed on paid administrative leave just two months after taking office. He said he came across what he described as "questionable" financial dealings, and even alluded to possible conflicts of interest.

The board of trustees, and top university officials never said why Silver was placed on leave. On December 21, 2012, the university agreed to pay Silver $685,000, or about two years salary, by the end of 2013.

Dean, the board chairman, did acknowledge that during the previous process to find ASU's next president, "certain things were missed" that he said wouldn't be missed during this next process. When asked if the next process will be more thorough than the one that led to Silver's hiring Dean said, "I can promise you it will be this time."

The 15 member board consists of several current board members as well as ASU faculty members, staff, the Student Government Association president, and members of the Montgomery community.

ASU's Thursday board meeting came in the shadow of one of the board members resigning her seat. Kathy Sawyer, who also served in the past as the Director of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, informed the governor 11 days ago of her decision to leave the board.

In an interview with WSFA 12 News, Sawyer said she didn't agree with the way the situation surrounding Silver was handled.

Copyright 2013  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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