News Column

Alaska Senate Expresses Concern Over 'Lack of Diversity'

Jan. 16, 2013

Drew Taylor

Jan. 16--With 17 people being considered for two positions on the Auburn University Board of Trustees, members of the AU Senate said they have voiced concern about the lack of diversity on the applicants.

Bill Sauser, AU Senate chair, said that on Monday, he and other members of the Senate met with President Jay Gogue to express their concern about how there was only one woman, Melissa Brown Herkt, who was on the list of nominees for one of two positions.

This was brought up following a number of calls Sauser had received about the nominees from faculty members.

"During that time, we mentioned that there had been some concerns voiced about the lack of diversity of potential appointees," Sauser said. "I don't know the racial breakdown of the nominees, but it was apparent that there was just one woman, so that was a concern."

Although Sauser did not specify what Gogue said, but that he took the concern to heart. However, Sauser clarified that neither he nor the Senate were part of a constitutional committee, so there wouldn't be any direct action taken.

"Of course, our president, nor any employee, has a role to play in that, but others do," he said.

Sauser said the meeting was part of a monthly schedule where the Senate, at the behest of Gogue, would meet with the president and discuss the issues they are most concerned with.

"We tell him things that the faculty is concerned about, and he informs us about things that are going on across campus," Sauser said.

During a Board of Trustees Selection Committee meeting in Montgomery on Jan. 8, Gov. Robert Bentley first raised the question of whether there would be an issue with Herkt being the only woman being considered for the position. No board members brought up issue with it, citing how they all had made their suggestions based on criteria, not gender.

Herkt, a nominee for the at-large trustee position, graduated from Auburn University in 1977 with a degree in civil engineering. She is the former president and chief operating officer of Emerson Process Management. She will interview for the position at the end of the month.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 the Opelika-Auburn News (Opelika, Ala.)

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