There is a bizarre contract controversy involving the new president Alabama State University, Gwendolyn Boyd. She is entitled to live in the presidential residence, which is pretty standard. What is not standard is the condition placed in her contract by the board: she cannot have lovers stay overnight for any extended period of time. Boyd, you see, is unmarried.
As an academic for a couple decades, I have never seen the like of this provision” “For so long as Dr. Boyd is president and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the president’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.”
Boyd is returning to Alabama State (where she graduated) from Johns Hopkins, where she spent the last 33 years as an engineer and executive assistant in the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory.
Boyd agreed to the condition and shrugged off the controversy as not important because she lives alone.
That hardly answers the question. The condition, in my view, is presumptively unlawful and most clearly insulting. What is notable is that Boyd did not even retain an attorney to look over the contract before she signed it. It guarantees her $300,000 a year, a car and the presidential residence so long as she complies with the board’s conditions on her intimate relationships.
The condition raises serious questions over the invasion of privacy of the president as well as discrimination against people who are single. The fact that it was introduced for this candidate also raised questions of discrimination on the basis of gender. It is also incredibly moronic and offensive. No academic, particularly the chief academic officer of a university, should sign such a demeaning contract. It does not bode well for the university that its top officer would shrug off such a violation of personal privacy and basic notions of respect.
Such considerations are irrelevant according to university spokesman, Kenneth Mullinax, who simply noted that “[t]he contract was negotiated between Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd and the Alabama State University Board of Trustees and both parties agreed to it and have no problem with it.” Really? That’s it? What is the parties agreed to a racist or anti-Semitic contract? Would it be hunky dory just because the person wanted the job so much that she was willing to give away part of her dignity. In a distinction worthy of the Saudi Kingdom, the board does let her have family members live with her in the mansion.
Ironically, rather than draw positive attention to the University for its new president and direction, the board made Alabama State University look like some petty, backwater institution. It is the continuation of a board that seem incapable to functioning without controversy or self-inflicted injury to its institution. It has been accused of questionable relationship and contracts with family and friends of its board members.
Her predecessor Joseph Silver resigned after only six months in the job in scandal. He received $685,000 to resign his position after questions were raised about contracts. Notably, the board paid him the money on the condition that neither said make disparaging comments about each other in the future. The audit found efforts to obstruct investigation into possible fraud.
It is not just the judgment of the Board (which has long lost credibility for many) but the judgment of Boyd that is thrown into question by the signing of the agreement. The board has again failed its students and its faculty in leading this institution in my view. The ASU community has a legitimate interest in not just seeing the substitution of this contract but the substitution of this Board as a critical factor in the advancement of its institution.
What do you think?