Tuskegee University Alumni Group Seeks Ouster of John Page As Board Chair
Tuskegee, Alabama, (Cascade Press) A group of Tuskegee University alumni have issued a letter to members of the Board of Trustees requesting that the Board elect a new chairperson when the board meets on March 24, 2018.
Corporate attorney John Page has been the chairperson of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees for the past two years. According to Board rules, the board can reelect Page to another two year term or they can nominate a slate of candidates and hold an election to fill the chairperson position.
An unsigned letter from the Concerned Tuskegee Alumni was obtained by Cascade Press over the weekend from Dr. Clarence Jones, a high ranking official in the Concern Tuskegee Alumni group.
This letter went out to members of the group on Saturday, February 17, 2018. The letter request the board to “vote ‘NO’ on renewing the current Board Chairman (John Page) at the 2018 spring Board election meeting.”
Also, the letter stated: “current research indicates that the most effective and efficient American colleges and universities (both HBCUs and majority white institutions) have selected a graduate of the institution to serve as chairman of their boards of trustees.”
“There is no reason,” the letter states “that Tuskegee University should not have as its Board of Trustee an Alumni chairperson.”
In the university’s 137 year history it has only had one alumni to serve as Chairperson of the Board. That chairperson was Charles Williams. He replaced long-time board chairman Andrew Brimmer.
Williams was ousted in a coupe d’etat two years ago, when the board became fearful that his meddling in the day to day operations of the university would trigger sanctions from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Williams departure led to the selection of Page as the Board Chair.
Page with his legal background came to the board with great promise. However, he quickly garnered the ire of Tuskegee Alumni when he resorted to New York ghetto language when speaking to alumni groups and he failed to open the university’s meetings and financial books to members of the alumni.
Last year, Page had Eugene Cummings, an 82 year old Tuskegee University Eminent Associate, removed from a board meeting by university security. Cummings is a strong financial supporter to the university.
Cummings, who grew up in south Georgia during the height of the Jim Crow era, with voice cracking, said he had not felt so belittled since he was mistreated by whites in the Jim Crow south of his youth.
Concerned Tuskegee Alumni Dr. Clarence Jones says that in the next few weeks Trustee members will receive similar letters from Tuskegee grads because “A few months ago the university did not reaffirm its president. We are in the midst of a change. Alumni believe that change must also occur in the current Board chair.”
Jones also said, “It is essential that Tuskegee University achieve maximum impact to embrace the necessities of strategic leadership. In changing the Board’s chairperson, we equate this kind of intended leadership adjustment to fine tuning a high-performance jet engine.”
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org