The Alabama Senate voted to confirm Secretary of State Beth Chapman to the board of trustees for the University of Montevallo on Wednesday, but not before arguments about losing diversity on the board and placing a political crony on the panel.
The Senate voted 21-10 to confirm Chapman, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley.
Chapman, a Montevallo graduate, replaces state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Birmingham Democrat who voiced his concern about a white member being appointed to replace him. Smitherman said he was not just concerned about himself being replaced, which he said was done because he has been outspoken at the State House, but about the state going backwards with diversity on state boards.
Chapman, a Republican, said she was honored by the appointment and said the university had a positive impact on her life and that of her husband. She said she looks forward to serving.
Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, accused Bentley of placing a political crony on the board, and doing it by replacing one of the few black members on a major board in the state.
“It’s an intentional act by the Republicans with a racist overtone to it to put a political crony on and remove someone who is qualified to serve with distinction,” Bedford said.
When asked about the issues raised on the Senate floor about diversity and cronyism, Chapman said she was taking the high road. She added, noting she did not bring up the diversity issue, that there are twice as many women as men who attend Montevallo, but that is not reflected on the board.
Chapman is in her second term as secretary of state and served a term as state auditor. She received the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Montevallo.
Smitherman, who was born in Montgomery, is a graduate of Montevallo. He is in his fifth term in the Senate.
– posted by Sebastian Kitchen