Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Alabama A&M leadership, including President Daniel K. Wims, will not be upfront with supporters about the fate of a $527-million debt the university is owed

NFL Hall of Famer John Stallworth, an Alabama A&M product

Officials at Alabama A&M University continue to play coy with their constituents about the $527 million the state owes the institution. Is that any way to run a university? Donald Watkins, longtime Alabama attorney who has become a leading voice in online investigative journalism, says it is not -- and that A&M's students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters deserve better. In an article at donaldwatkins.com, Watkins writes under the headline "Is Alabama A&M Going to Collect Its $527,280,064 Debt from the State of Alabama, or Not?":

Is Alabama A&M University going to collect its $527,280,064 debt from the state of Alabama, or not? This simple, straightforward question is swirling inside of Bulldog Nation!

This is a question that neither President Daniel K. Wims, nor the Alabama A&M University board of trustees, will answer. In fact, they will NOT even acknowledge that the $527,280,064 debt is due and owed to the university.

Wims and the board of trustees have invoked a strange and eerie silence on this question.

The issue hit the public realm with the release of  a letter to governors in 16 states, all with land-grant institutions (such as Alabama A&M) within their borders. Alabama's Kay Ivey was one such governor, and it's safe to say the letter did not brighten her day

Why might Ivey find the letter distressing? For one, it presents a jaw-dropping number that the state owes. Watkins provides insights:

A September 18, 2023, letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture to Gov. Kay Ivey explains the state's debt to Alabama A&M and calculates the amount owed.

Alabama A&M's faculty, staff, students, alumni, supporters, and the state's Black community want to know the answer to this question from President Wims. Thus far, the only answer Wims is providing is a very loud silence.

Weeks ago, I learned that the answer to this question is "No."

Shortly after the debt-notification letter arrived on Gov. Ivey's desk, President Wims sent word to her that Alabama A&M would take no steps to collect this debt. Gov. Ivey and her staff were elated with this news. They couldn't believe that Wims had walked away from the $527,280,064 owed to Alabama A&M without a fight.

Dr. Wims did not want to make Gov. Ivey and her MAGA colleagues in the state legislature mad at him. Wims was afraid that an angry Gov. Ivey would force his ouster as president if he took any genuine steps to collect the university's $527,280,064 debt from the state.

Instead of fighting the state to collect Alabama A&M's $527 280,064, Dr. Wims and the university's White outside law firm embarked upon a campaign to use paid hustlers to smear me. They are running the smear-campaign money through the White law firm.

The spitballs that Wims and his flunkies are throwing at me do not change two basic facts: (a) Alabama A&M is owed $527,280,064 by the state of Alabama, and (b) Wims does not have the "balls" to go and get the money.

This whole ugly episode does not speak well for Alabama A&M's "leadership," For one thing, how does A&M expect middle-class givers to pony up when the university won't even attempt to collect millions of dollars it already is owed? The next time a fundraising letter goes out, who could blame potential A&M givers if they pitched it in the trash? Writes Watkins:

Wims is nothing more than a psychologically castrated MAGA eunuch masquerading as a university president. He does not have the courage that it takes to get this $527,280,064, but he will flirt with women all day long.

What is worse, Alabama A&M's board of trustees is weaker than Wims. They have no supervisory control over Wims. They are present on the A&M scene for window-dressing purposes.

The last time Alabama A&M was owed hundreds of millions of dollars from the state of Alabama, my legal team and I went and got the money for the university (and for Alabama State University) in the Knight v. Alabama higher-education desegregation case. After long, hard, and aggressive courtroom fights, we brought Alabama A&M its first-ever Ph.D. programs, new undergraduate programs, money for new facilities, renovation of old buildings, and campus expansion, plus tens of millions of dollars in endowment money -- all from the state.

I feel sorry for the entire Alabama A&M family because President Wims will NOT tell them the truth. Wims has already sold out the university's entitlement to collect $527,280,064 from the state, just so he can keep his $400,000 per year job. Alabama A&M will never see a dime of this money.

Dr. Wims is living proof that, "A man who will not fight for himself, will not fight for you."

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