This week Floyd Griffin, a 1966 Tuskegee Institute graduate tossed his hat into the ring to become only the second Tuskegee alumni in the 137 year history of the “Pride of the Swift Growing South,” to serve as chair of its Board of Trustees.
Current board chair John Page is maneuvering to keep the board out of the hands of an experienced Tuskegee alumni when the second of his two-year terms expire later this month.
According to all indications, Page is ready to ditch the Trustee Board for the Tuskegee Foundation. However, to keep board leadership away from any experienced alumni on the board, Page is quietly supporting former Boeing executive, Norma Clayton, who currently serves the board as First Vice Chair.
Should Clayton receive the nomination of the nominating committee, it would present the Tuskegee Board of Trustees with an ethical dilemma because Clayton serves on this committee.
Early in the week when Griffin announced his intentions to seek the nomination from the floor, he cautioned the board not to nominate any elected officer of the board serving on the nominating committee.
Provided Tuskegee follows ethical standards in the selection of the nominees, this will also eliminate Tuskegee alumni Erick Harris, a gas and energy attorney in Oklahoma, who also serves on the nominating committee. Both Clayton and Harris are elected First Vice Chair of the Board.
It is clear that in a fair election,Tuskegee alumni on the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees are the balance of power when the board meets to elect a new board chairperson for the next two years.
There are 23 members on the Board of Trustees. Of this number only 20 have voting rights. Therefore it takes 11 votes to win the chair position. There are eight Tuskegee alumni with voting rights. Thus, the Tuskegee alumni trustees hold in their hands the keys to deciding who will become the next board chair.
What are Griffin’s strengths?
He is a combat tested soldier. As a 20 year-old, he flew helicopters in the Vietnam War following his graduation from Tuskegee. Griffin has unsuccessfully run for Lt. Governor of the state of Georgia, becoming the first Black person in the 20th century to seek that post, none have sought it since.
In 1994, he became one of the first Blacks to win a state senate seat in a rural majority white senatorial district in Georgia.
Later, Griffin was elected to represent his hometown, Milledgeville, Georgia as its mayor.
In addition to his building construction degree from Tuskegee, Griffin earned a degree in funeral service from Gupton Jones College. Last year Griffin retired as CEO of Slater Funeral Home in Milledgeville, Georgia.
In 2009, Griffin published his autobiography,Legacy to Legend: Winners Make it Happen.
Griffin lives in Milledgeville, Georgia with his wife of 51 years Nathalie Huffman Griffin. The couple met as student on the campus at Tuskegee.
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