Returning to her Alma Mater in February, Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd became the President of Alabama State University. Dr. Boyd was selected by the ASU board of trustees by a unanimous vote of 11-0. She is the first female president of the university and that’s a significant milestone.
Dr. Boyd takes the reins at a time of controversy and tumult at the university. She has already made a most favorable impression on both friends and critics of ASU. Dr. Boyd told the Tuscaloosa News that her first priority would be to bring stability to the university and it appears she is making progress toward that end. She has outlined goals that include adding a school of engineering, strengthening and rejuvenating the alumni association, adding additional scholarships to attract students, and new student recruitment.
Shortly after officially taking the helm at ASU, Dr. Boyd faced her first big challenge when the Alabama Senate’s education budget committee proposed a $10.8 million cut to the university’s funding, which would amount to 25 percent of its state appropriation. The committee chairman, Sen. Trip Pittman, said he thought the money could be used as leverage by Dr. Boyd to make changes at ASU. However, Dr. Boyd and Gov. Bentley were totally opposed to that approach. Rep. Bill Poole, the chairman of the Education Budget Committee in the House of Representatives, worked to restore the $10 million in the substitute budget. Regardless of the motive behind the proposed cut, punishing ASU in such a manner was ill-advised and should never have been attempted. At press time, the education budget had passed both the House and Senate, but had not been signed by Governor Bentley. I am told that ASU was treated fairly and not punished in the budget.
It’s not an easy road set before Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, but then from all accounts she has never been one to shy from a challenge. If her past accomplishments are any indication, she is the right person for the job. Dr. Boyd’s academic and professional career has demonstrated an outstanding record of achievement. She earned her Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University, and a doctorate of divinity from Howard University. Prior to accepting the role as President of ASU, she was executive assistant to the chief of staff of the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University, where she also served as chair of the Diversity Leadership Council.
Dr. Boyd also has long been dedicated to advancing education. In particular, she spearheaded efforts to help broaden the scope of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines nationally and worldwide. As a result of this commitment to educational excellence, Dr. Boyd was nominated by President Barack Obama and received U.S. Senate confirmation to serve as a trustee to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 2009. On Jan. 16, 2014, President Obama announced his intent to appoint Boyd and 14 other individuals to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.
As she takes over as President of Alabama State University, an historically important institution in our state, we wish Dr. Boyd the very best. I am confident that she will do an outstanding job!
Sources: Montgomery Advertiser, Al.com and Tuscaloosa News
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