To be clear, Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd needs no saving. Even if she is the absolute wrong choice to lead her alma mater, if she is the spending-happy, back talking president some former and current members of the ASU Board of Trustees have made her out to be, two things remain clear about their relationship:
They picked her, and she doesn’t need them or the job to cap an already remarkable life and career.
But at some point, there has to be a reckoning for the way the board has mishandled its communication and oversight of Dr. Boyd, and the public turmoil and potential damage it has caused for the university. Obviously, the board’s dysfunction and malfeasance far precedes her tenure, but Boyd as an alumnus and history-making president deserves more because her presidency should mean more. It should mean more for the board in preserving her leadership for the long-term, and it should mean more to the students and alumni just looking for Alabama State to be above national controversy for more than a month at a time.
But most of all, it should mean more to Dr. Boyd’s core of support, a sisterhood that has transcended leadership, political influence and social capital for decades, and should consider using the might of its power to influence the direction of the ASU Board on behalf of its former national president.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. has the power to bring down all kinds of financial, political and social pressure on the ASU Board and the Office of the Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, in support of its 22nd president. Dr. Boyd is credentialed enough and astute enough to do fine in the presidency, were the board not so willfully malicious and historically inept. But given those circumstances, it takes a unique kind of advocacy to keep Boyd out of harm’s way and in the HBCU circle of leadership.
Maybe it’s a letter-writing campaign, maybe it’s a fundraising campaign to support her vision and campus initiatives. Perhaps it’s cultivating media and convincing reporters to get to the bottom of what this board has against a president with less than a year in office. Sexism? Personal beef? Lost perks? Whatever the reason, Dr. Boyd is seemingly a woman on an island in Montgomery.
And with more than 300,000 women around the world she can call upon as ‘soror,’ that should definitely not be the case.
DST is an organization that has held audience with the president, has affected social change to the tune of millions of dollars and millions of young people enabled to receive education, start businesses, grow families and preserve communities as a result of its influence. Surely, a small group of clueless HBCU trustees should be light work for the crimson and cream.
And wouldn’t it be something for Delta Sigma Theta to claim saving an HBCU as one of its historic feats? Not that they need it or are looking for such an accolade, but it couldn’t hurt for one of our Divine Nine organizations to step into a role of institutional preservation in HBCU culture. Scholarships are nice, donations are good. But saving a school is something no organization would be able to claim, and it only takes a minimal effort from a lot of women to back their sister.
The ASU board is unmoved and unintimidated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the office of the governor, and members of its own campus community. They are bent on preserving a culture of crooked management, cronyism and personal benefits by way of board affiliation. Dr. Boyd didn’t come to exorcise the board, but to right the way for Alabama State to reemerge as a national institution of value to Black America.
No one seems to be able to stop this runaway train that is ASU leadership. But an elephant on the tracks may just do the trick.