Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Birmingham Lawmaker's Bill Would Change Trustee System, Give UAB New Board

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Birmingham Lawmaker's Bill Would Change Trustee System, Give UAB New Board

Article excerpt

A Birmingham lawmaker introduced a pair of bills Thursday to amend the state Constitution and create a separate supervisory board of trustees to oversee the University of Alabama at Birmingham and provide more equal representation among the three campuses on the existing board.

Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, a UAB alumnus, introduced the proposed amendments, which would require approval by a super majority in the Legislature and by voters during a statewide referendum.

House Bill 272 would create a supervisory board of trustees to oversee UAB in association with the existing board of trustees. House Bill 273 would amend the Constitution to give equal representation on the board among the three campuses.

"We don't need the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to be our parents," Rogers said.

Lawmakers from Jefferson County including Rogers, who has introduced similar legislation in the past, resurrected the idea of separating the campus from the University of Alabama System soon after the December announcement by UAB President Ray Watts that the Birmingham campus would discontinue its football, bowling and rifle programs.

The loss of the football program is indicative of a larger issue of second-class status for UAB and the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the system, according to Rogers and other supporters.

"It's deeper than football," Rogers said. "We had to crawl and grovel for everything we got at the UAB campus."

Rogers has introduced the proposal to make UAB independent before without success. The Birmingham lawmaker believes there will be more support this session following the outcry by groups opposing the cancellation of the football program and their supporters.

It's a lot of legislators that come to me and said 'John we are with you this time,'" Rogers said.

The leadership of the system and the University of Alabama Board of Trustees have publicly expressed support for Watts' administration, while also offering assurances they were impartial in their support of all three campuses and were listening to concerns from critics and members of the UAB community about the decision to discontinue the programs. …

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