Bob Howell Out at ASU, Communications Center Not Happening


By Ashley Thompson

Alabama State University's proposed on campus state-of-the-art center for communications students is no longer happening.
We spoke with Bob Howell by phone today and he says ASU told him the communications center has been cancelled and so has his job.

You may remember the fanfare when Alabama State University announced its new communications and technology center in 2012. ASU initially wanted to buy the old Alabama Public Television building to create a state-of-the-art hands-on communications center.

But APT decided not to sell the building so officials with ASU made plans to put the center on campus in the old bookstore.

Former television anchor Bob Howell was hired to direct the center with a salary of 187 thousand dollars per year plus benefits. Here's what he said in August about how the bookstore would be transformed.

"It will be studios and newsrooms for everybody. Offices, edit suites, a full radio and television facility for the students that are in the communications department."

But now, those plans are dead. And Howell tells us he's no longer with the university in any capacity. Last week, Alabama News Network asked ASU president Gwendolyn Boyd about the matter.

"As I said on my first day here, we're examining everything," she said. "We have to look at all of our practices and policies and procedures because that is what all of these reports and audits are all about. So everything, I said on the first day, everything is on the table."

Executive Vice President John Knight says university officials are trying to be financially responsible.

"Once APT decided they did not want to sell the building after making a commitment that the building would be sold to Alabama State, the university had to rethink it's mission in terms of how far we could go as an investment in a center such as this."

Students, who were eager to learn in the new communications center say the news is disappointing.

"That was the only reason I chose Alabama State, because of the program," says freshman Denise Rozier.

"It's at the University of Alabama, Auburn, A&M and we should get it as well," says student Cedric Mahaffey.

Although plans for the center are dead, Knight says officials are always looking ahead.

"We look forward to, hopefully at some point, to having the financial resources to be able to continue."

Alabama Public Television officials decided not to sell their building because they say they still have use for it.



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