Alabama A&M President Survives Challenge, Trustees Want Answers

MONTGOMERY Ala.

Dr. Robert Jennings has survived a challenge to his presidency of Alabama A&M University, but the school’s trustees say they will take up the issue again after they’re given more information.

Alabama A&M’s board discussed a special committee’s report into whether Jennings improperly paid an assistant in 2006 for time actually spent off campus. The Huntsville Times reported on the nearly two-hour, closed door session in Wednesday’s editions.

“We had a very frank, very candid discussion about all the elements of (the report), went over it in a great amount of detail,” Gov. Bob Riley, said after presiding over the Tuesday meeting. “There were some additional questions that came up, and it was the committee’s recommendation that we go back and see if we can do a little more research and bring it up at the next board meeting.”

The board will meet again in February.

Asked if he had any doubts Jennings would remain at A&M, Riley said, “I have no reason to think that he won’t.”

Board President Pro Tem Dr. Shefton Riggins declined to say what additional research was needed.

More than 30 students were among the Alabama A&M contingent who made the trip from Huntsville for the meeting.

Tavis Richardson, 20, a junior from Smiths Station majoring in biology/pre medicine, wasn’t happy with putting off any decisions about Jennings.

“It’s a long, drawn-out process that I feel is not needed because I think Dr. Jennings has done an excellent job for the students,” he said, adding that the president has been willing to listen to and work with them. “He loves the university and he’s working for the students.”

“Hopefully, we’ll come out with a good solution in the end,” said Vanessa Dennis, 20, a junior from Montgomery majoring in education. “I supported the president in the beginning, but a lot of the promises he made haven’t exactly been full proved. Right now, I’m kind of edgy; I’m in the middle; I’m neutral.”

Trustees also approved a more than $134 million 2007-08 budget that includes 7 percent across-the-board pay increases, or a 10 percent increase for employees making less than $25,000 a year.

Information from: The Huntsville Times, http://www.al.com/hsvtimes/hsv.html



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