Fired Alabama A&M University President Robert Jennings plans to challenge his dismissal in court, his attorney said.
The university’s board of trustees voted 7-1 Monday to fire Jennings after he had served as the school’s president for a little more than a year.
“He feels like this was an absolute travesty of justice,” his attorney, John Saxon of Birmingham, told The Huntsville Times. “It was a kangaroo court. I’m not even sure, first of all, that this was a lawful meeting.”
Saxon said Jennings was not given a hearing or a chance to respond publicly to the charges against him. He said the decision to fire Jennings was based on the report of an ad hoc committee never approved by the board.
“He has not been afforded due process, and we plan to fully challenge the decision and all of these points in Madison County Circuit Court,” Saxon said.
Jennings sat silently during much of the nearly two-hour board meeting and left before it ended.
The board plans to meet in a couple of weeks to select an interim president.
Jennings, who assumed office in January 2006, was fired after an ad hoc committee alleged that he hired an executive assistant, Marco McMillian, who did not meet the qualifications for the post and paid him for a couple of weeks actually spent at a Minnesota college working on a master’s degree. McMillian has since left the university.
Jennings maintains the payment was not improper and that McMillian more than made up the time with work before and after his leave.
More recently, Jennings has been accused of involvement in changing some students’ grades without the consent of their teacher. He has denied it and the department chairman said recently Jennings had nothing to do with changing grades.
Trustee James Montgomery cast the only vote against firing Jennings.
“I’m very sad,” Montgomery said afterward. “I’m sad because of how it makes the university look.”
Board President Pro Tempore Shefton Riggins defended the decision to fire Jennings.
“This is not a black eye for the university,” Riggins said. “I don’t think Alabama A&M University has any more problems than any other state university in this state or any other state.”
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