Tuskegee Chair Page Seeks To Quiet Dissent
Atlanta, Georgia, Cascade Press, Saturday, October 8, 2016, John Page, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Tuskegee University spoke with the Concerned Tuskegee Alumni in Atlanta, Georgia. He asked the group to quiet its dissenting voice regarding issues confronting the university.
Page’s message to the Concerned Tuskegee Alumni (CTA) was very similar to the “House Divided” lecture he gave to board members last weekend during the board’s annual fall meeting. His speech to the board was largely successful as members who had been willing to take a vote of no confidence on the job performance of the university president decided to get in line behind Page.
Before Saturday’s meeting the Board chairman told CTA’s leaders that he would not speak if any reporters or bloggers had R. S. V. P.ed positively for the meeting. Our sources state that Page asked to review the RSVP list and specified several Tuskegee Alumni who could not attend this meeting. Additionally, he prohibited any recordings or photographs.
When CTA’s leadership declined to allow Page to dictate who could and could not attend the meeting, he emphatically stated that he would not “speak if Michael Harvey was present.”
Needless to say, Harvey attended the conference. He arrived several minutes after Page had begun his discussion with CTA members. Page did not leave the meeting.
The Chairman told CTA members that he thought it was counterproductive to publically discuss issues facing the university. He said that some of the things he has read about President Brian Johnson “are not fit to show to children.” He said he did not believe that Black people should criticize Black leadership.
Page said he was willing to discuss any issue with the group as long as it did not deal with leadership and administration. He talked about the systemic problems facing the university. For instance, one of the infractions included in a warning notice from the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools had to do with the failure of the university to file an audit of Title IV funds.
According to Page, the audit had been timely prepared, but the university failed to include it with the SACS plan. To compound this problem, after SACS alerted the university that the audit had not been included, the university still did not file the audit.
It took a second rap on the hands from SACS the following year before the university found the audit report on an administrator’s desk. Page said he thought”someone should be fired” over the negligent handling of the Title IV audit. He did not indicate if any administrator had been disciplined for the failure to attach the audit to its SACS submission.
Attorney Page addressed the matter of the decrease in Tuskegee’s endowment. The endowment has fallen from $130 million to $115 million dollars in recent years. However, Page said that the reduction can be explained as the consequent of the 2008 economic downturn. He said that the endowment lost $10 million, but he did not account for the additional $5 million loss.
Also, Page’s explanation tends to suggest that the endowment dropped from $130 million in 2008 to $115 million this year. According to a June 30,2012 financial statement filed by Tuskegee University with the state of Alabama, the endowment was $131,598,836 (See page 14). Despite Page’s matter of fact contention, this means the university’s decrease in the endowment occurred between 2013 and 2016 long after most investment funds had recovered from the 2008 economic downturn.
A look at the 2012 Financial Statement further reveals that of the $15 million value Page places on the endowment today,$7,512,970 was pledged to Regions Bank, along with other collateral, on June 25, 2012 to secure a $10, 000,000 line of credit (See page 15).
Additionally, Page said that the Tuskegee endowment was slightly below the endowments of Spelman College and Hampton University. However, according to HBCU Money, which keeps track of these type of statistics from the National Association of College & University Business Officers, as of 2015, Spelman had an endowment of $362.986 million and Hampton’s endowment was $263.237 million. At $115 million, less $7,512,970, Tuskegee is no where close these two elite HBCUs.
Playing fast and loose with the facts, it is easy to see why Chairman Page did not want any reporters, bloggers or fact checkers in the room to listen to his presentation. It clearly explains why he wants the voices of dissent to go away.
Tuskegee University Financial Statement, June 30, 2012
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.