John Page, Chairman of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees is on the run. He is running to keep his position as board chair of the illustrative and historic Tuskegee University.
Last month, John Page drew opposition from Retired Army Colonel Floyd Griffin who entered the race after repeated calls from alumni and other board members to toss his hat in the ring.
Griffin has secured the endorsement from the family of the school’s first principal Booker T. Washington and this week the Tuskegee National Alumni Association (TNAA) voted overwhelmingly to endorse Griffin for chair.
Earlier, Griffin had secured the endorsement of the powerful Concerned Tuskegee Alumni, an independent association of alumni who organized when the national body failed to notify the board that the Atlanta Tuskegee Alumni Association had issued a no vote of confidence in President Brian Johnson.
Johnson was eventually terminated when his contract was not renewed.
To counter alumni efforts to acquire an alum as chairperson of the board, John Page has caused two documents to be released to the Tuskegee community.
First, he released minutes of board meetings, which has been a bone of contention of alumni groups for several years. Although, Page released a semblance of board minutes, it did not give any detail explanation of board activities nor did it disclose any financial records.
Alumni have been calling for a release of a financial report throughout Page’s tenure as chairman of the board. He has been stubbornly litigious in refusing to release financial records.
Second, Page released a joint statement on the state of the university that was signed by himself, the Interim President and the Provost. An obvious signature was missing from this joint statement. Bert Rowe, President of TNAA was prohibited from signing off on this statement as a result of the vote taken by regional alumni presidents on a Monday night conference call.
Alumni are calling BS on this joint statement and the purported minutes of recent board meetings.
One alumni leader said, “Page just does not get it. He thinks that the Tuskegee graduate is less smart than graduates from predominantly white institution. Why is he being transparent now? We have asked for board minutes for the last three years and he always has some excuse for why he can not release them. Where are the financial records? Why can’t taxpaying Alabama citizens see how the university spends the tax dollars they receive from the state? Why is it that alumni can not attend board meetings?
If things were not bad enough, today Page received news that Dr. Matthew Jenkins, a former Interim President of Tuskegee has issued a letter to board members urging them not to renew Page as board chair.
In his letter to the board, Jenkins notes that “The Matthew and Roberta Jenkins Family Foundation has donated in excess of $12 million to deserving students and academic institutions including… financial donations to the College of Veterinary Medicine and to the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center’s past renovation projects. ”
In no uncertain terms, Jenkins writes to the board, “…I must express my great disappointment with Mr. John Page’s performance as board chair.”
“At this time, Mr. Floyd Griffin is well suited to be elected chairman of the board of trustees. His background in the Georgia state senate and as a city’s mayor gives him the abilities required to chair the University’s board. Mr. Griffin understands the past and current challenges of Tuskegee,” Jenkin wrote.
Should Griffin become the next chair of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees, it will mark the first time that the alumni influenced the selection of the board chair in the 137 year history of the “Pride of the Swift Growing South.”
John Page is running to block that history and to negate the influence of alumni concerned about the plight of their HBCU.
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