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Culverhouse recommends less power for chancellor

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Interim Chancellor Renee Culverhouse told Alabama school board members Thursday that they should strip some authority from the two-year chancellor position by making changes to the state code.

Culverhouse recommended that the board add the revisions to its legislative agenda for the 2007 session. Under the current code, the board has to rely on the chancellor to make decisions on a wide range of issues ranging from day-to-day operations at the colleges to hiring and firing personnel, she said.

That "pretty much keeps you from having the initiatives yourself," Culverhouse told the board at a work session for the two-year system Thursday.

"If you had a disagreement with the chancellor about something that should be brought before this board, then you would lose because it's up to the chancellor to bring it to the board, not up to the board to bring it up on its own," she said. "This change in the statute would allow the board to be authorized to do these particular functions which you are not authorized to do now."

Culverhouse, president of Gadsden State Community College, was named interim chancellor last week.

following Thomas Corts' resignation from the position on Feb. 28.

Corts' departure was the latest upheaval for the system, which has been shaken by an ongoing investigation into widespread corruption and questionable practices. Corts also had said the position had too much authority.

Most board members seemed to support the changes Culverhouse proposed, saying it would give the board the power and authority that critics assume it already has.

Randy McKinney of Gulf Shores said he would need more time to carefully review any amendments and was worried they would make "the position of chancellor a lot weaker than it presently is."

"I see some major shift in the way decisions would be made and the way that people will respond to the chancellor's position and to this board," he said. "It seems to me that the (college) presidents may take a view of that position as chancellor not to be very effective and (think it's) free range to do what they want to do."

This is Culverhouse's second stint as interim president. She took over after former two-year chancellor Roy Johnson's contract was terminated on July 11 amid corruption and nepotism allegations.

She said making the changes would make sure the authority for the colleges was "vested in this board and not in the chancellor" and keep the chancellor from having too much involvement in happenings at the campuses.

"It is a large temptation for any person to assert a great deal of power and this board would have no idea what's going on and I think that's what you've seen in the past," Culverhouse said. "I understood this board to want to move in a different direction, so that was my impetus for bringing this before you."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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