Questions remain after Shelton State president ousted in February
Shelton State Community College President Brad Newman served 10 months in his role before the Alabama Community College System announced he was being replaced.
That sudden Feb. 10 announcement, during which ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker appointed Chris Cox as Shelton’s interim president, spawned a series of still-unanswered questions. Why was Newman given the boot? And why has Shelton State had 10 presidents in as many years?
“We want to make sure that justice is served,” said New Hope Church of God Pastor Anderson Walker, who hosted a meeting in support of Newman on Monday.
Nearly two months later, the ACCS has still not released a reason for Newman’s dismissal.
“To the best of our understanding there are no minutes that show the board acted on his termination,” Walker said.
So why was he fired?
“That’s why there needs to be an investigation,” said local businessman John Covington. “There needs to be someone who says ‘OK, I terminated him for this reason.’ And where did you get that information from? How did you validate that information? ”
Walker and Covington said Shelton State lost a great leader when they let Newman go, and his dismissal deserves answers.
Shelton State has been home to 10 presidents over the past 10 years, with the longest of those being William J. Ashley, who served two years, six months between Oct. 1, 2017 and March 31, 2020.
“They are changing presidents over there like you and I change socks,” Covington said. “It just does not make sense. All the numbers were good. Enrollment numbers were good. There was engagement in the community. He was selected. He didn’t go looking for this job, they came to him.”
Diversity among Shelton State’s leaders has been a longtime issue, Walker said, but Newman was working at changing the status quo.
“Were there race issues there? Yes, there were,” Walker said. “How do we address those issues? No one else had the courage to call it like it was. No one else wanted to address that.”
Newman was looking at improving the culture among faculty and staff, Walker said, but that ended when he left.
“You are dealing with a great deal of partnership that has been lost,” he said. “I don’t think anyone there had this type of vision that said ‘hey, let’s pick this up and run with it.’ We had someone there who cared about the totality of our community. Not just a few.”
Walker said he’s reached out to the ACCS chancellor’s office, as well as state legislators looking for answers.
WVUA 23 News reached out to ACCS for a comment. They replied that “the system cannot comment on former personnel.”