A group of Clark Atlanta University faculty, students and alums said Tuesday the school’s financial and morale problems have reached a crisis point and it’s time for university president Walter Broadnax to step down or be fired.
“The president has already proven his track record,” said Ron Allen, president of CAU’s Graduate Student Government Association. “I see no need to keep him.”
Tuesday, 14 faculty members, students and alums pointed to continuously rising tuition, the shutting down of various programs, poor communications, questionable financial management and an overall lack of leadership as reasons why Broadax should be removed.
Eighty-six percent of voting faculty members voted “no confidence” in Broadnax last month, and a lawsuit is pending in the Georgia Supreme Court against the university after Broadnax backed the closing of the school’s engineering department.
Students and faculty also fought the school’s decision to shut down its library sciences program in 2004.
Psychology professor Diane Plummer said Tuesday that Broadnax refuses to talk to faculty members about the issues and has created “illusions of progress.” The group also pointed out that Broadnax is one of the highest paid presidents of any historically
Broadnax made approximately $236,000 in 2003, according to the school’s IRS statements. A year later, he earned $384,000, and his salary was up to $400,000 in 2005. Those figures include contributions to his employee benefits plan and deferred compensation. By comparison, Morehouse College President Walter Massey earned nearly $383,000 annually, while Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum made $268,261.
CAU students complained about Broadnax’s salary earlier this semester, when school officials announced another hike in tuition. The student posted fliers around campus calling for Broadnax to step down after the board of trustees raised annual tuition 5 percent, from $14,819 to $15,550. That comes after a 6 percent increase the year before.
“This has gone on long enough and its now time for a new beginning,” says Dr. Lebone Moeti, chairman of the Clark Atlanta University Faculty Assembly. “Over the past five years of his presidency, Clark Atlanta’s academic programs, financial standing, management and operations have progressively worsened. We have to save our university now before its too late.”
While Broadnax has made no comment about the demands, school officials have released a statement touting some of his accomplishments, including whittling a $25 million deficit in 2002 down to $4 million today.
“Today we have a balanced budget and are fiscally sound,” said the statement.
Despite the group’s demands, CAU’s trustees have stood behind Broadnax, giving him a show of support during their meeting last week. Broadnax’s background is in public policy. He was dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. He has also served as deputy secretary and chief operating officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration.
But the trustees have decided to hire a new executive vice president to focus on day-to-day management of the university while Broadnax intensifies his fund-raising efforts.
The board has also pledged to improve relations between administration, faculty and students.
The group is hoping to see improvements in that area and others over the next 30 days. The trustee’s executive committee will also meet with Moeti and other key faculty leaders within the next couple of weeks for more discussions.
“But for us, we’d still like for [Broadnax] to leave as soon as possible,” Moeti says.
–Add Seymour, Jr.
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