Alabama State University president Gwendolyn Boyd has the support of the school’s faculty.
That much was obvious Wednesday morning, as Boyd spoke at ASU’s faculty convocation and received a standing ovation from the school’s professors when she finished.
Boyd, who’s entering her first fall semester as ASU’s president, told the gathered faculty that she envisions ASU “rising from the ashes.”
“I think this university is headed in the right direction,” Boyd said, after referencing recent changes in the school’s board of trustees. “I encourage each of you to continue inspiring students daily. That’s why we’re here. That should always be our goal.”
Prior to Boyd’s speech, ASU faculty senate chairman Charlie Hardy encouraged the faculty members to make their support for her known.
“By virtue of my office … I am respectfully requesting you to join me in standing to show your appreciation for the courageous leadership of our president,” Hardy said. “That is our collective statement of confidence in our president and the new board of trustees’ leadership. We are family. We are a team.”
Hardy said later that ASU has “turned a corner” and that the faculty and Boyd are marking “a new day.”
Much of Boyd’s popularity stems from the turmoil she’s endured since her arrival in February.
Taking over a school in the midst of credit downgrades, a forensic investigation and two grand jury investigations, Boyd drew criticism from some longtime administrators over her determination to reshape the school’s administration and other issues.
The popular choice for president among faculty and students, Boyd has promised to get ASU’s financial problems — the school is $230 million in debt — under control without cutting academic programs. “In fact, I want you to send me ideas for expanding programs at ASU,” she told the faculty.
The ongoing turmoil at ASU has seen one longtime trustee, Elton Dean, and three longtime vice presidents, John Knight, Freddie Gallot and Danielle Kennedy, retire. Another trustee, Marvin Wiggins, was removed from the board by Gov. Robert Bentley.
After noting a recent fundraising effort that picked up $127,000, Boyd said, “Imagine what we might raise if the headlines were good or if they just weren’t that bad.”