Emails reveal Alabama State rift
by The Associated Press
January 06, 2013 11:25 PM | 625 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — For days prior to being placed on administrative leave, former Alabama State University President Joseph Silver got into a public disagreement with two administrators about not having a car to ride in the university’s annual Turkey Day Classic parade.

Emails obtained by the Montgomery Advertiser offer differing versions of what happened as the Thanksgiving Day parade was getting ready to start on Nov. 22.

Later, the executive committee of the university’s board of trustees placed Silver on administrative leave. He and the trustees reached a separation agreement Dec. 21, ending his three-month tenure as president of the Montgomery university.

The Turkey Day Classic parade draws large crowds to downtown Montgomery on Thanksgiving morning, and it precedes the annual football matchup between Alabama State and Tuskegee University.

Silver sent an email to trustee Elton Dean and other board members on Nov. 25 — three days after the parade and a day prior to being placed on leave — saying there was an “orchestrated attempt to mis-position me and misrepresent me with the board and in some parts of the community.”

Silver said that when he and his wife arrived for the start of the parade, he discovered that no car had been provided for him and his wife to ride in the parade, but there were cars for other administrators, including executive vice president John Knight and former university president William Harris, who is now serving as interim president.

Sliver wrote that he asked the vice president for university relations, Danielle Kennedy, why he had no car and she replied that “campus police was to bring a car” and she walked away.

“As she was walking away, I asked, ‘What is wrong with this picture in that the president and first lady do not have a vehicle for the parade and everyone else does,’” Silver wrote. “Mr. Knight just blurted, ‘Don’t you talk to her like that.’ To which I responded, ‘Like what? I am just asking her a logical question.’”

Silver wrote that campus police went to get a car. But the parade was starting and he decided to walk.

He wrote that ASU’s director of public safety, Henry Davis, offered to drive Silver’s wife, but that led to another outburst from Knight.

“I stated that I would walk (the parade route) and if Mrs. Silver wanted to ride in Davis’ car then that was her choice,” Silver wrote. “Mr. Knight stated, and I quote him verbatim, ‘I (he) am in charge and don’t move that car.’”

Silver wrote that later, he was surprised to learn of rumors that he had yelled and cursed at Kennedy and others.

“In all my 30 plus years of professional life, I have never yelled at an employee or raised my voice at an employee,” Silver wrote. “In my entire life, I have never cursed anyone.”

Kennedy sent an email to Knight with a different recollection of what happened.

“I have been a higher education professional for more than 17 years and have worked for six university presidents and have never experienced a heated exchange with one of them in a very public forum,” Kennedy’s email begins. She goes on to describe Silver as being “very agitated.”

“(Silver) walked over to me and said, ‘How does everyone else have a car but the president,’” Kennedy wrote, adding that Silver said “‘this is wrong. You know this (is) wrong. You are wrong.’ He said this all while raising his voice and pointing his finger at me.”

At that point, Kennedy wrote that Knight came over to calm the situation. She wrote that Knight told Silver to stop speaking to Kennedy “that way,” and that Knight would hold up the parade until Silver’s car arrived.

On Nov. 26, the same day Silver was placed on administrative leave, he attempted to fire Kennedy and Knight with one-sentence emails to each.

Kennedy told the Advertiser that she stands by what she said in her email. Knight said he could not comment because Silver’s separation agreement has a non-disclosure clause. Silver could not be reached for comment.
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