According to Derek Trotter, communications director for Sen. Del Marsh, president pro tempore of the Senate, the nominations are being reviewed by a Senate confirmation committee. The nominees will be reviewed by the full Senate once they are approved by the committee.
“The confirmations committee is just a precursor to getting to the full step,” Trotter said. “And that’s the same process that any legislation follows; it has to be approved by a committee first before it can come before the full Senate.”
Trotter said there is no timeline for when the final decision will be made regarding the nominations. He said the process of deliberation typically begins as soon as the names are submitted to the body.
“It’s difficult to set a timeline on a legislative process,” Trotter said.
The nine nominations were submitted to the Senate Feb. 6. The nominees are B.T. Roberts, Clark Sahlie, Jimmy Rane, Bob Dumas, Jimmy Sanford, Elizabeth Huntley, Sarah Newton, Jim Pratt and Charles McCrary.
The nominations were submitted by a trustee selection committee chaired by Gov. Robert Bentley.
Trotter said Marsh was more satisfied with the actions of the selection committee this year than he was last year when the process began.
“Sen. Marsh appreciated the governor taking a second look or going through the selection process again in a more deliberative manner,” Trotter said.
Marsh’s dissatisfaction with the original nomination process stemmed from a lack of transparency, Trotter said. He said Marsh also felt the selection committee did not spend adequate time reviewing the nearly 200 applicants.
Trotter said a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley for an amendment to the Alabama Constitution could change the way the Board of Trustees is structured in the future.
“Right now we have nine trustees who … have open seats,” Trotter said. “This bill would essentially put a mechanism in place so that every two years trustees are alternating on and off the board, so you would never have a situation where you would have nine seats open at any given time.”
The bill also seeks to update the districts that trustees represent.
“Currently, trustees are drawn from congressional district lines drawn in the 1960s,” Trotter said. “This bill, it brings those lines more up to speed with current congressional district lines.”
Trotter said the Senate will review the nominees carefully.
“The most important goal is to make sure that the Senate is confirming the most qualified applicants to the Board of Trustees,” Trotter said, “and also to make sure that there’s no issue with University (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accreditation.
So that will obviously be a priority to make sure that the board constantly has enough trustees—active trustees—so that there are no accreditation issues.”