"Alabama’s 'other' university
In our opinion
Recent budget cuts proposed by Gov. Riley have brought into focus the unique association between the state of Alabama and Tuskegee University.
According to the governor’s initial definition, Tuskegee University was a private institution and therefore it was lumped in with other private schools that were identified to lose their state support. At first glance that seemed fair. In these dire times, when cuts have to come, reducing the money spent on non-state agencies and activities was an appropriate step to take. But, on second glance, it became apparent that Tuskegee University was not your normal private school.
Tuskegee began as a public school, charted by the Legislature in 1881. State money was used to lure Booker T. Washington to the state to run it. The state appointed the Board of Trustees. The Board was expanded to include members not appointed by the state in an effort to get more funds from Northern foundations. However, the state continued to appoint one-third of the Board members.
This relationship made Tuskegee a "state-related" institution, one that is both public and private according to an opinion released by Attorney General Bill Pryor. Learning of what the Attorney General wrote, Gov. Riley announced that he would recommend restoring Tuskegee’s state funding.
However, Monday when the Alabama Senate passed the state’s education budget it restored only 50 percent of Tuskegee’s appropriation. It did the same for other institutions defined as "private."
We understand that in these hard times cuts are necessary. And of all the many cuts that must be made, reducing state aid to private institutions is one of the more logical choices.
However, considering Tuskegee University’s role as a "state-related" institution we hope that its reduction will be brought into line with those imposed on other state universities. That would be fair."