College of The Albemarle hopes a new policy will assure diversity and equity are especially considered when new trustees are appointed.
By a unanimous vote, COA’s trustees approved Policy Number: 1-6, Diversity and Inclusion on Tuesday. The board approved the policy upon recommendation by the Ad Hoc Diversity and Inclusion committee, led by Trustee Joseph Peel.
The origins of the policy stem to the board’s Aug. 18 meeting, when Trustee Anthony Sharpe expressed his concern for improving diversity among the trustees.
Sharp was referring to state legislation approved in 2019 that requires colleges to report the gender makeup of their boards. After some discussion, board Chairwoman Patti Kersey created the ad hoc committee to address the issue.
The COA board is comprised of 18 trustees who are appointed by nine different agencies. Categorized by race, the board includes 12 white males, four Black males and two white women. An additional seat is held by a white female student who serves as a non-voting member for a total of 19.
In addition to the governor’s office, the other eight appointing bodies include the boards of commissioners from Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties and the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education.
Four trustees each are appointed by the governor’s office, the Pasquotank commissioners and the local school board. The Dare commissioners appoint two trustees, while the remaining boards of commissioners appoint one trustee each. The student member is appointed by the college’s Student Government Association.
COA plans to send an annual letter the first week of March to remind the appointing bodies of its commitment to a board of trustees that best represents the college’s seven-county service area, according to a COA document.
A copy of the letter from Kersey explains to the appointing agencies the reasons for the new policy and the goals it hopes to achieve. The letter opens by explaining the 2019 law that requires boards to report their gender composition by Sept. 1 of each year.
“I am writing to you because of the COA Board of Trustees’ interest in creating more diversity in all aspects of the college, including the board,” Kersey’s letter states. “Our board feels strongly that not only should gender be a consideration for board membership, but ethnic diversity as well.”
The letter concludes by asking the appointing bodies’ support in “appointing board members who want to promote the college’s mission of transforming lives and are gender and ethnically diverse.”