The Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees (BOT), led by Chairperson Belvin Perry, is self-governing. There is no oversight. Unlike public universities, there is no Board of Regents, governor or attorney general to ensure accountability. This void is disconcerting given the history of B-CU’s BOT mismanagement, malfeasance, and abject lack of transparency.
The BOT’s recent decision to cut ties with the 88-year-old National Alumni Association, established by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune is not about raising money for the university, it’s actually contrived, retaliatory, and a direct response to the National
Alumni Association of Bethune-Cookman’s call for transparency and accountability.
In addition, the BOT’s actions were preceded by a NAA vote of no confidence of the board chair and vice chair. The BOT went further and announced it would start a “Direct Service Organization.’’
One B-CU board member has publicly stated that other universities are surging through the use of DSOs. As alumni, we must do our own homework and not simply accept what one says. But what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
Lack of transparency
Do those universities have a history of BOT arrogance and cronyism? The motivation behind the BOT’s decision is not premised on raising the financial profile of B-CU, it’s about keeping the NAA quiet. If the BOT has flexed its muscle to muzzle the NAA, a separate 501(c)(3), do you not believe they will control the alumni voices of those in their DSO?
Proudly, the NAA has provided a responsible level of oversight over the years, having among other things, brought attention to fiscal mismanagement, the now infamous dirty dorm deal, and requesting a forensic audit.
While the current BOT is comprised of many different faces, there remains at least one critical indicator of concern (i.e. continued lack of transparency). Neither the alumni nor the public is privy to the university’s true fiscal condition. Its endowment has dwindled from well over $50 million to just over $20 million. Nevertheless, alumni stakeholders are expected to accept sheer representations of university officials concerning solvency.
Won’t be silenced
The historic events of the BOT warrant responsible alumni over-sight although our BOT prefers to carry forth unshared visions unencumbered by checks and balances. That’s why our independent entity and invested interest in B-CU are vitally needed.
To join our autonomous group as they refuse to be silenced and are willing to take direct action to ensure our alma mater stays on course. Otherwise, those at the helm are left to their own devices and run the risk of capsizing the B-CU enterprise.
Whatever the case, the NAA isn’t leaving. We will continue to serve alumni and future alumni-only without the right to claim any formal relationship with the university (no use of the university mascot, email domain, etc.). We have changed our name already to the “Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune National Alumni Association, Inc.”
A charge to keep we have!
Johnny McCray, Esq.Jr., is president of the National Alumni Association and served on the B-CU Board of Trustees for eight years.