published Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

University of West Alabama places president on leave

LIVINGSTON, Ala. — Trustees at the University of West Alabama have voted not to extend President Richard Holland's contract and placed him on paid leave — while his claims that enemies tampered with his performance evaluation are investigated.

An independent consultant will look into the allegations after Monday's decision by the board of trustees, The Tuscaloosa News reported.

Holland's contract is scheduled to end on Oct. 1 and he has expressed a desire to stay on as president until 2016.

Holland released a 19-page report before Monday's meeting, saying he wants an investigation into whether trustees and administrators hand-picked respondents to give negative feedback during a consultant's recent evaluation of his work as president.

Monday's meeting was packed with onlookers, many of whom were outspoken during the meeting in support of Holland, the Tuscaloosa newspaper reported.

UWA senior Dondraius Mayhew, who stood in the cold Monday morning outside of the cafeteria conference room where committee meetings took place, was stunned and had little to say.

"He is a great president," Mayhew said Monday morning, as he held a poster advocating for Holland's contract extension. "I really don't see why someone wouldn't want him to be president."

Trustee Thomas Ballow Jr., who was among those rejecting the extension, said while Holland has an admirable legacy, he was never destined to be the future leader, regardless of the extension. Ballow said he hoped the audience would have similar enthusiasm for Holland's successor.

Holland said he plans to continue teaching as a tenured professor of biology.

"They removed me from administrative roles, but I still teach," he said.

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