A good friend came rushing up to me as I entered the Harbert Center for a meeting. He said, “I just found out something I bet you don’t know— “The University of Alabama doesn’t exist.”
Now I’ve heard some farfetched things in my life, but few topped this one.
But before all you anti University of Alabama folks from UAB and UAH get too excited, he explained that you don’t exist either.
My friend said that our State Constitution created the University Of Alabama Board Of Trustees and the Trustees then created UA, UAB, and UAH.
I asked what difference that made and he explained that UA, UAB, and UAH are not legal entities—they exist from the power granted to them by the Board of Trustees.
I had no idea what that actually means, so I called an attorney who understands business and governmental law.
“The BOT is a public corporation, whose members are drawn from the Alabama congressional districts. It is the legal entity recognized by the Alabama Constitution and statutes as the state university. My recollection is that the campuses are much like divisions of a corporation, in essence dba entities like Chevrolet or Buick, but with General Motors Corp as the one legal entity. Proper legal contracts for UAB, for example, show the legal party as “The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama,” and perhaps also saying …”doing business as the University of Alabama at Birmingham.”
He referred me to the Preamble of the Board Manual of the University of Alabama Board Of Trustees which said, “The people of Alabama have vested full management and control over the “state university” in a “board of trustees” (Ala. Const. Art. 14, Sec. 264).
And to Article 14, section 264 of our State Constitution which says, “The state university shall be under the management and control of a board of trustees…”
Do you think the Chevrolet Division of GM makes decisions for GM?
Carrying his analogy further, do you really think that a division of a major corporation like General Motors is going to allow a division to make significant long term decisions without some oversight?
If you want to change the UABOT”s, then you must change the Constitution.
The ComebackTown blog of April 14, Is free UAB movement doomed? pointed out that any change made to the makeup of the BOT’s would require a constitutional amendment that would have to be approved by the voters of Alabama.
Scream and holler all you want about the UABOT’s, but the BOT’s have all the marbles.
Editor’s note: If you want to read an interesting article about the early years of UA and its Board of Trustees, read this WELD article from April 29 written by Dr. John Knox an associate professor of geography at the University of Georgia.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).