By Lora Scripps
It was an historic day on the state’s oldest university campus Friday as Gov. Robert Bentley chaired the first meeting of the newly appointed 11-member Athens State Board of Trustees.
“This is a very historic day for Athens State University,” Bentley said in the University Chapel of Founders Hall. “I thought since we had an entirely new board today and a new beginning, then as governor and chairman of the board somebody had to get this thing started.”
Friday marked the first time the school was led by its own board since it transferred from the purview of the Methodist Church to the state of Alabama in 1975, becoming a public school. The change means Athens State is no longer part of the postsecondary system.
The 11-member board of trustees includes Mary Dickens, a contract executive with the Department of Defense at the U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal; Garth Lovvorn, an Athens resident and Athens State College graduate who served as area president of Bank Independent from 2006-2012; Macke Mauldin, Bank Independent president since 1996; Sen. Arthur Orr, Alabama state senator; Maxine Randolph, management with Home Depot Inc. and the chairperson for the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce; Clint Shelton, owner of Tennessee Valley Printing Co. and publisher of the Decatur Daily; Tazewell Shepard, a principal in law firm of Sparkman Shepard & Morris and the president of the Huntsville-Madison County Bar Association; Dr. Sandra Sims-deGraffenried, who has had an extensive career in public education and retired from the Alabama Association of School Boards; Gov. Bentley, who will serve as the board president; and state board of education member Mary Scott Hunter and Post-Secondary Chancellor Dr. Mark A. Heinrich, who will serve on the board in their roles as leaders in the Alabama educational system.
Athens President Bob Glenn presented Gov. Bentley, Sen. Arthur Orr and other board members with compasses. “This is a symbolic thank you,” Glenn said. “This is a historic institution. We are 190 years old and we are going in a new direction so we wanted you to have this compass — symbolic that you are now responsible for leading the direction of this institution.”
During the first board of trustees meeting, members followed an agenda that included amending and adopting by-laws and rules of procedure as well as voting to approve Sims-deGraffenried board chair pro tem and Shepard as vice chairman pro tem. Both will serve in those roles for the next two years. Bentley turned the meeting over to Sims-deGraffenried after she was appointed.
“This is historic time for this university,” Bentley said before leaving. “You are no longer under the post secondary. You will be under ACHE.”
Bentley added Athens State will be like other universities including Alabama and Auburn. “I think that it really is a historic time,” Bentley said. “I think it is going to be great for Athens State University. I’m proud to be here to be a part of this.”
Board members also discussed upcoming meetings from October until June; committee structure and assignments; job descriptions, the Beaty-Mason home and the university’s needs assessment.
Actions taken at the meeting included affirming Glenn, who has held the position since 2008, as Athens State president. Trustees also approved the university’s budget; purchases of fidelity bonds for board members, bond resolutions; interim authority for university policies and affirmation of Phase I of the Beaty-Mason Project.