On the surface, Holland likes what he sees

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2004

Officials at the University of West Alabama in Livingston were surprised Wednesday afternoon by Governor Bob Riley’s selection of five new members to the Board of Trustees.

Thomas Ballow, Jr. of Montgomery, Margaret Lovett of Tuscumbia, John Northcutt of Demopolis, Foy Tatum of Montgomery and Dr. Ken Tucker of Demopolis were nominated.

Northcutt is on the UWA Foundation Board, said Dr. Richard Holland, UWA president. “I’ve worked with him over the years on so many projects in this area, particularly in Demopolis area. He’s been an excellent foundation board member,” and Holland believes Northcutt will work well on the Board of Trustees.

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“I knew Ken Tucker when he was here on the faculty, and I worked with his mother for many years. He is on the board of directors of the West Alabama Regional Alliance.

“…I’ve never known them (Northcutt or Tucker) to shy away from any project.”

Holland did not know the other three appointees. The UWA president had no input into who was selected.

“The only conversations we had with the governor’s staff is that he was going to choose Alabamians who he felt had a strong commitment to the state and quality of education and help this institution move forward,” Holland said.

Dr. Richard Schellhammer, the head of the faculty senate, said he did not know any of the individuals selected by the governor. However, he hoped “these five will work in harmony with the administration and the faculty to make the university a better place.”

He hopes the new board can get the school off probation.

The turmoil between factions on the board has been frustrating, Schellhammer said. The same Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) committee that put the university on probation had at the same time praised the students, faculty and administration for “a solid program.”

“The enrollment is up” at the Livingston campus, Schellhammer said. It was only some “recalcitrant board members” who were threatening the well-being of the institution.

“It’s a record enrollment for a spring semester,” Holland said. UWA has so much to offer, and the fighting among the board members has been a constant distraction. “You come to work each day with a list of projects and groups that you have to meet with, and then you’re interrupted halfway by something that deals with an attorney or to fill out a response. It has been quite a distraction.”

Holland believes these appointments will bring the end to strife on the board. “I feel certain of that,” he said.

The president was not sure if the appointments would be confirmed by the next board meeting in March.