Livingston, Ala. After a two-hour meeting Monday afternoon, the University of West Alabama board of trustees voted to not renew the contract for Dr. Richard Holland.
The board's actions did not come without major protests from members of the community in Sumter County and alumni of the school. One by one, about a half dozen of them stood up in support of the longtime president to the cheers and often standing ovations of the over-capacity crowd.
"His job as president speaks for itself. Anyone with eyes can see the growth and beauty of this campus, and the student body," said Dr. Archie Hooper, a UWA alumnus.
Despite that show of support, the board appeared to have already made up its mind. Some of them seemed to be angry with Holland over his reaction to a recent job evaluation by an independent evaluator. Holland and his supporters believe that evaluation was unfair, and have accused the board of improprieties in handling it.
"People are calling board members names, saying they're thieves, saying they have financial obligations," said Alex Saad, a member of the board of trustees.
The board voted to have an independent investigator look into the allegations by Holland and his supporters, but they also voted to put Holland on administrative leave while that investigation took place. Their actions were met with howls of protest by people in the crowd. Holland himself said he has done nothing wrong. He also says he's concerned about how this situation was handled.
"That's what the board's going to have to address, the issue of stability and unity, among our alums, the community, and people who donate and support this institution, because obviously it's fractured right now, but they'll handle that," said Dr. Richard Holland, the president of UWA.
Holland's administrative leave takes place immediately. The board voted to create a position of temporary administrator for the school, until the investigation is complete. That man is John Blackwell, the former business manager at UWA. No word on exactly when he will begin working.
Blackwell is a former Auburn University trustee, and is founder of Inkana Development, a Birmingham real estate development company.