The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Athens & Limestone County Today

February 25, 2013

ASU eyes new opportunity with new board of trustees

— Athens State University has made historic strides during the past year — strides that will help the 190-year-old institution stay abreast to higher education trends as well as lobby Alabama leaders for funding much like other universities in the state.

In October, Athens State chaired the first meeting of a newly appointed 11-member board of trustees.

Governor Robert Bentley chaired the first meeting calling it “a very historic day” for the university.

It was the first time the school was led by its own board since being transferred from the purview of the Methodist Church to the state of Alabama in 1975 and becoming a public school.

“We came out from under the state board of education,” Athens State University President Dr. Robert Glenn said recently. “That is a big deal for the university.”

He believes the new board will help Athens State in a variety of ways. “Not that the state board didn’t take their responsibility to us seriously, but we were governed by a board that had 137 K-12 systems, 27 community colleges and one university,” he said. “It was very difficult for us to get the kind of attention and exceptions that we needed to operate in the best fashion.” He used ASU’s tenure policy as an example, which was basically the same as K-12 and community colleges. “That made us the only university in the country, which had a tenure policy that was based on peer review and merit,” he said.

Glenn added a lot of people think Athens State is leaving the community college system, which he said is technically true, but not actually true.

“What we sought in our legislation was to have an autonomous board, but to have a state-wide mission as a community college, transfer student-oriented institution and that is what we have and what we will remain,” he said.

Athens State doesn’t plan to add another two years.  “We are going to remain an upper division university,” he said. “We are going to remain focused on cutting-edge delivery and being as frugal as we can because we think that is a viable market for us.”

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