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Alabama Chancellor Robert Witt Fully Supportive of Current University System Structure

Which tells me I'll never get my head far enough up my butt to see things his way.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

This really is great. The leadership of the University of Alabama just don't know when to quit, and the story just keeps writing itself. This time, it is Chancellor Robert Witt's turn. Go here if you want to read the letter in its entirety, but I wanted to cover the highlights.

In fact, the structure of The University of Alabama System's Board of Trustees was a major factor in my decision to accept the presidency

I'm not sure that's a positive, but go on.

In nearly a decade as president and now as chancellor of the system, I can attest that my expectations about the effectiveness of the board's approach to governance have been met and exceeded.

That's an important phrasing right there. That more than likely says a lot more about Chancellor (then President) Witt's expectations about what effective governance is and what it should accomplish. Now comes the fun part. He lists a handful of empty PR puffery bulletpoints to demonstrate this effectiveness, but a few stick out like sore thumbs.

  • This year UA, UAB and UAH reached new enrollment records, with more than 62,000 students now studying on the three campuses.

No, not exactly. UA did indeed post record enrollment for the 13th year in a row (based on fall headcount enrollment numbers). As a matter of fact, their enrollment has increased 25.5% over the last five years. UAB's record number represents a comparatively paltry 6.6% growth since their 2010 numbers.

But that pales in comparison to UAH. Not only was their total 2014 fall enrollment down from the year prior (and therefore in no way a record), it was the lowest since 2007. So that statement is only mostly true, and even then hides an ugly undercurrent.

  • Among elite universities in research and community engagement, UAB continues to grow as a university of choice for undergraduates. More than $100 million in new, board-approved student facilities are under construction now.

I don't know what universities fall into "elite in research and community engagement," but that detail aside we're still talking about a collection of student facilities that were initiated by a UAB president who was let go for doing too good a job - Carol Garrison. That progress has literally nothing to do with Ray Watts or other current administrators. 

  • UAH[...] saw a 12-plus percent increase in the freshman class last fall.

I'm disbelieving of this one. Their overall fall enrollment in 2014 was a 1.4% decrease from the year prior, which means if they really did have that much growth in the freshman class, it was likely aided by reduced enrollment standards and aimed at bolstering a drop somewhere else. This is a clever massaging of data.

What makes the size and structure of our board so effective? [...]None of them are political appointees. In terms of gender and race, the board of trustees of The University of Alabama System is one of, if not the most, diverse boards in higher education in our state.

I'll ignore the line about none of them being political appointees, and focus on the fact that your board is not diverse at all, let alone "one of if not the most" diverse. Your 25 member board is 73% male, 80% Caucasian, and 66% Caucasian male. Add in the Governor and Superintendent, and those numbers become  77, 82 and 71%, respectively. That is the complete antithesis of diverse.

This also, obviously, completely blows over the idea that a board which boasts of its diversity also aims to guide and direct three different physical universities without actually having any representation by two of those three universities. Which is driven home by one more point.

Because they have a shared vision for the future of the system as a whole, they are able to help focus the synergies of the three research universities in a collaborative manner for better efficiency and more robust results. By definition, campus dollars stay on the campus where they originate.

Uh, no they don't. If campus dollars actually stayed where they originated, the campus that originates the majority of the system's money (UAB) would be the campus having the most money. Which is most definitely not the case. Also, the fact that the board has a shared vision is again skewed by the fact that due to their background, they don't have a vision that is inclusive of anything other than the best interests of their shared alma mater.

Go ahead administrators. Keep writing whatever you want. We will continue to poke holes in the shoddy logic you use, and we will continue to demonstrate that we are not the apathetic dunces you try to paint us as. We are here, we are vocal, and we will make sure your life is a living hell for as long as you continue to keep spoon-feeding us ammunition.