April 6, 2001

(In Dr. Wayne Flyntís office at Auburn University)

 

Dr. Flynt: Dr. Muse, Iím going to start with the search for the candidate for president.Weíd had two years of proration, weíd had a major battle with the president and the faculty.The university was on AAUP censorship.What made you interested in Auburn, as you were then president of the school that had 30,000 students, even more than Auburn?Why were you interested in coming to Auburn?

 

Dr. Muse: At the time I was contacted by Auburn and I got a letter from the search committee.I think it was from Dr. Gerald Leischuck who was secretary to the board atthe time and was also secretary to the search committee.He indicated that I had been nominated for the position as president here at Auburn.I was in my eighth year as president at Akron.I had had a very successful presidency there.It was not that I was dissatisfied with Akron or my relationships with the faculty or the board, but I simply wanted to move to a larger or more prestigious university.More prestigious would be underlined rather than larger.My native state is Mississippi and Iíd often thought about coming back to one of the universities in the Southeastern Conference, the schools that I remembered growing up and going to school in the South.So the opportunity to come back to Auburn was an attractive one to me.Now, I didnít know anything about Auburn.Iíd never gone to school here.In fact, Iíd only visited campus once in my life and that was in the early 1960's.So I knew very little about Auburn, other than where it was and that it was in the deep South.I really knew very little about what kind of problems that Auburn was experiencing.I knew about the NCAA investigation because there had been a special on ď60 MinutesĒ that had appeared shortly before I came down to interview with the search committee.So I was aware that there were some problems with the athletic program.But many of the other things, other problems, I found out when I came to Auburn.Perhaps I didnít do enough due diligence in my investigation, but when one is a sitting president of another university the consideration of another job is a very delicate process.So you work very hard not to let your current university know that you might be looking because of the kind of problems that might cause.As a result youíre probably not as open in searching out information about the school that youíre considering.Believe it or not, ten years ago the Internet and that source of information was not nearly as active as a way which a person can now go and get a lot of information about what is happening in other schools.So I had an offer to come down and meet with the search committee.Those meetings were held in Atlanta and I flew into the Atlanta airport.I went to one of the hotels there, I forget which hotel it was, but I met with the search committee from Auburn.It was a group of roughly twenty to twenty-five people, faculty, staff, and students.The trustee that was involved in that search committee, to my recollection, was Mike McCartney, who at that time was the president pro-tempore of the board.But, he didnít participate in the interviewing process other than just introducing me to the group.We had an hour to an hour and a half interview, which I found delightful.I found the people that I met there and the kind of questions that they asked me very encouraging.So I went away from that interview feeling very positive about Auburn and the kind of school that it was.Subsequently, I was notified that the candidates had been reduced to a smaller number.I think there were approximately five that the search committee had recommended to the Board of Trustees.So I came back to Atlanta to meet with the Board of Trustees.For reasons that were not completely clear to me at the time, I met with them in small groups of approximately three to four trustees at a time.So I had to have three different meetings with groups of trustees.I was later told that they met in smaller groups because if they had met in a larger group it would have been a open meeting.So this was one way that they were able to get around that provision and still conduct the interviews in private.My wife, Marlene, came with me on this trip, (she did not on the first trip to meet with the search committee) and while I was being interviewed, she met with the spouses of some of the trustees.We went back to our room, after these interviews had been completed. We were told to wait there and that the trustees were going to meet and that they were going to make a decision as to whom they wanted to extend an offer.We waited for maybe an hour or so, because I know I was looking at a return flight to Akron and was becoming concerned about whether or not weíd make the returning flight.Subsequently, Mike McCartney called me and told me that the board wanted to make me an offer.We discussed a little bit at that time the salary.I remembered that he offered me a salary that was less than I was making at Akron at the time and I told him that I would not find that acceptable.I thought that it should be a little higher than that and he then quoted me a salary that was a little bit, but not much more, than I was making at Akron.I told him that I would accept the job.He told me then that I would have to come back to the campus for a public interview.It was necessary for a public interview to be conducted and the board would then vote and make a final decision.But they were extending me the offer and I should plan on, if the terms were agreeable as we had discussed, receiving that appointment.We then flew back to Akron and the next week, I believe it was in December, all I remember is that it was close to the Christmas holiday period.I think it was maybe as late as December 18th or 19th.We flew again to Atlanta and were picked up there in a university plane, Marlene and I.We were flown to Auburn.Emily Leischuck, who was an assistant to the president at the time, accompanied us on that flight.She drove us from the Auburn airport to her house in Auburn, where we stayed until we came over to the Foy Student Center on campus for the public interview.I had not been told very much about what this interview was to be like in terms of the questioning or what the setting was.But we arrived at the student center and I found that there was a huge crowd of people.The room where the interview was to be conducted was packed with individuals that I judged to be faculty members at Auburn or staff.They took me to one of the smaller rooms to prepare for me to then be brought in, which I was.As I recall, there were a number of television cameras there and the room was packed with people.They proceeded to conduct the interview.I did not know anything about the questions that were going to be asked.I tried to respond to the questions in a forthright manner and obviously answer them honestly.Then they asked me to leave the room.While I was out of the room, I understand that there was a motion presented by Mr. Robert Lowder to delay the decision and to bring in additional candidates.Now I did not know that because I was not in the room.I had been told that the interview was totally perfunctory.That it was something that had to be done in order to comply with the state requirements and that it was obviously nothing about which I should worry.I was later informed that subsequently a vote was taken and that I got a majority of the votes that were cast.I was appointed as president on that day.

 

Dr. Flynt: Did you ever find out why Lowder apparently didnít take a position negative to your being brought into the final interview and yet sought to delay it at that point?There were rumors at the time, for instance, that this strategy was to get you pulled out of the search.The assumption was that if they delayed it, your candidacy would have been public and that would have embarrassed you and then you wouldíve pulled out.I donít know whether thereís any truth to that or not.

 

Dr. Muse:I canít tell you what the truth is because I donít know.Iíve been told, by several people, that Mr. Lowder strongly supported another candidate.The votes were almost even or were even for a long time, between Mr. Lowder and other members of the board who were supporting this candidate, who I understand was the president of Georgia Southern University at the time.There was another group who had been persuaded that I was the best candidate for the job.The story that I have heard most frequently is that Jim Tatum had originally sided with Mr. Lowder, but as a result of the interviews changed his mind and agreed to support or vote for me.Iíve also heard another version that Charlie Glover changed his vote.But I did not know this until later after I had accepted the job that Mr. Lowder had opposed or had not been in favor of me as the person to be appointed to this position.

 

Dr. Flynt: Interesting.

 

Dr. Muse: It is probably not a good way for anyone to come into a position where there is a split vote and particularly a close vote on the part of the Board of Trustees.Iím not sure that I would have taken the job had I known that.But on the other hand, I would admit that I wanted to come to Auburn.I wanted to come to Auburn because I thought it was an excellent university.It was in the deep South where I had grown up and I liked the people that I had met.Now as I reflected back, I donít think Iíve ever told anyone this except perhaps Marlene, but in the interview process with the trustees, there were some that I felt that I established kind of an immediate connection with and there were others who were quite stand-offish.I did not know who Mr. Lowder was.I had the names of the trustees and probably had the positions that they held in the community.But I remember asking him a question about his bank and telling him that I was a director of a bank in Akron.I told him the bank in which I had served as a director and he didnít seem to be impressed with that at all.His posture in that interview was one that I can best describe, that my mother often referred to, as ďsomeone looking down their nose at someone else.ĒHis whole posture and the way that he positioned himself was almost as though he was looking down his nose at me.It was probably a message that was an important one that I didnít heed or didnít value as I should have on that occasion.

 

Dr. Flynt: I wanted to read to you from the ďBirmingham NewsĒ on December 17, 1991.Actually the ďBirmingham NewsĒ article was 2 days later on the 19th, but the editorial wished you good luck, wished you good luck because of the history of trustee micro management and athletic problems.Then right after that, actually just before you came, the trustees passed a famous resolution placing total responsibility for the athletic program in the hands of the president, including the hiring and firing of administrators and coaches.Then the November 20, 1991, issue of the ďChronicle of Higher EducationĒ featured an article, ďWho runs AuburnI donít know if youíve read that, but it basically charged that there was too much intrusion into Auburn sports programs by the trustees.Did you know anything about those sorts of issues?I gather from your earlier comments that you really didnít.

 

Dr. Muse: I did not.I had, I guess, been spoiled in the sense that I had president of the University of Akron for over eight years and had had a great Board of Trustees.One with whom I had a great working relationship.They were mostly corporate executives and they understood the difference between establishing policy and making administrative decisions.They let me have the responsibility and authority for managing the university, leading the university on a day to day basis, with very few exceptions.I had one trustee who tried to get involved in making some personal appointments, but he was quickly reprimanded by the other trustees.So Iíd had this experience of how I thought a Board of Trustees should and could operate and that probably made me less sensitive to this kind of problem than would have been the case otherwise.But I again unfortunately did not read that piece in the ďChronicle of Higher Education.ĒI was asked the question during the interview with the trustees about the presidentís role in management of athletics.I had been involved quite a bit in the discussions about the formation of the Knight Commission that was formed, I believe, in 1989 or 1990.In fact, Creed Black, who was a chair of Knight Commission, was a publisher of the ďAkron Beacon JournalĒ before he left it to work for the Knight Foundation in Miami.He in fact consulted with me a number of times over lunch; we talked about this and people to serve on the Knight Commission.So I followed his work very closely.One of the principle emphases that the Knight Commission had, and itís ultimate report pointed it out, is that the chief executive officer of the university should have the same control over athletics as he has over all other operations of the university.So I made that point very clearly to the trustees.I was told that the trustees had a policy that they hired the head basketball coach, head football coach, and the athletic director.I was very clear and up front that I couldnít accept that kind of arrangement.That if I came to the institution, I would expect to have the responsibility and the authority for the athletic program.So the action by the trustees, which I think occurred the same day that I was appointed, to transfer that responsibility, I felt, was a result of the discussions that we had.I was very pleased because I thought that that was a signal that they fully intended for me to have that responsibility and to have that authority.

 

Dr. Flynt: Although this is going to sound like a silly question, but I donít want to word it in such a way as to appear to be pulling information out of you that I think you ought to say, as opposed to leaving the question neutral, but was there intrusion in the presidentís prerogatives on such issues as athletic director and coaches, and if so when did you find out about it?

 

Dr. Muse: It wasnít immediately apparent that that was the case.You might recall that when I arrived here the problems were enormous and they were multiple.I did not know anything about the AGLA, the gay and lesbian alliance controversy, before I got on campus.I didnít know about the Old South parade that KA had before I got on campus.I did not know, until I arrived here that we were operating that year at an $8 million budgetary deficit.I didnít know about the AAUP censorship.There were a lot of things that, and I may be at considerable fault for not finding that out before I took the job, I did not know.In the interview process for a new president, it is almost totally focused on what you have to offer to the job.Most every question was related to what I had done and what I knew about and what I could do.So I was so busy selling myself and my capabilities, I really didnít have any opportunity to ask what are the problems Iíve got to deal with.†† If I hadnít read it in the newspaper, I wouldnít have known about it and itís obvious that I didnít even do a good job of searching out the newspapers and the press.But when I first came, I was so caught up in issues that had a high visibility and had a life of their own.It was at a time, late in the spring, when there wasnít a lot going on in athletics.I didnít really pay a lot of attention to athletics until much later.You might also recall that during that time, Pat Dye was both football coach and athletic director.It was clear to me from talking with him and from observing that he frankly didnít care that much about being an athletic director.He was primarily a football coach.It was really kind of a curious situation because I couldnít see immediately who was running athletics or with whom I needed to deal to really know what was happening in athletics.You might recall that. subsequently, and I think that this was maybe three or four months into my presidency, I talked with Coach Dye and I told him that I was going to appoint an athletic director.He offered no resistance to that at all, he even told me that he thought it would be a good idea.I began to look for someone I could bring in with considerable experience.It looked to me as though the athletic department had not had leadership for a long period of time.It had very few policies, very few things that I would see as the kind of operating procedures for a well run athletic department.So I wanted to bring someone in with a lot of experience who could give us maybe two or three years to set up the management structure, re-establish the position of athletic director, and then Iíd bring in someone else.Thatís when I sought out and found Mike Lude who had been the athletic director for the University of Washington for about 20 years and had just retired.Incidentally, Frank Broyles, who is the athletic director at the University of Arkansas and a long time personal friend of mine, is the individual who told me about Mike Lude.I got in touch with him; he was, at that time, heading up the Blockbuster Bowl down in Ft. Lauderdale.I persuaded him to take the job.He came in and then I began to deal with Mike in terms of the operation of athletics.

 

Dr. Flynt: Itís pretty clear from your comments that all of this is your initiative that this is not generated someplace else.

 

Dr. Muse: Right.

 

Dr. Flynt: I know that although this is going to change the order in which I ask questions, I want to follow up on that just a little bit, because not long after this you selected Jane Moore as the first woman chair on the committee of intercollegiate athletics.I was wondering if there was any reaction to that at all, a woman as chair?

 

Dr. Muse: There was.A guy named Joe Boland was the faculty representative for athletics when I came.He told me not too long after I got here that he had an offer to go back to Georgia Tech, where he had been previously, and that this was an attractive offer to him and he was going.So I was faced with the question of who was to be the faculty representative for athletics and who was to chair the committee on intercollegiate athletics.Iím not really sure, I think Dr. Moore was the vice-chairman of the committee on intercollegiate athletics.I had met her, was very impressed with her, and felt that she would be a good person to take over that responsibility.My recollection is that that raised some questions initially.I remember that Dr. Leischuck talked to me about that and indicated that there were some concerns about whether or not that was a good choice.I just simply indicated that I had observed her as a vice-chair of the committee, had talked with her, felt that she would be a good choice, that she was the person that I wanted to appoint, and subsequently did that.I, for the first year or two, operated pretty much on the assumption that I was running the university and did not consult with the trustees in any great extent, not that I was attempting to hide anything from them.But simply because thatís what I thought I was supposed to do.Thatís how it operated at Akron.I think that the issues with which I was dealing were so ornery, that the trustees didnít really want to have any part of it.Certainly none of them wanted to touch the gay/lesbian issue, which I had to deal with; none of them wanted to touch the Old South parade, which I had to deal with; none of them were particularly interested in the issue of the AAUP censorship.In fact, I remember having a number of discussions with the trustees trying to convince them that that was something that needed to be dealt with.My recollection was that there wasnít a great deal of interest or concern that we were on the censor list.Is that going to hurt us in recruiting faculty and so on?I obviously felt that it would and it was.It was something that needed to be removed and, largely through my own initiative, I worked to accomplish that.It was really only when I got around to the issue of athletics that I saw very clearly that I was not going to make many moves there without considerable trustee involvement.Once Mike Lude was on board, he and I talked extensively.I had a great deal of confidence in his judgment and in his leadership.I think he did a good job for Auburn.The first incident that really signaled the importance of athletics to the trustees was when we made the decision to relieve Coach Dye of his responsibilities as head coach.That was something that I did talk with the trustees about, Mr. Lowder and Mr. McCartney.I had their concurrence...

 

Dr. Flynt: They were on the athletic committee?

 

Dr. Muse: Yes. [I had their concurrence] at that time to make that decision.Of course when I made the decision I was the person standing in front of the TV cameras and defending and dealing with it.But, I would say that Coach Dye was a gentleman throughout the process.We treated him very well in terms of buying out his contract.But, he was not difficult at all to deal with, with that.I then asked Mike Lude to begin to develop a list of people that you think would be good coaches for us.Mike had been around for a long time and he knew head football coaches and athletic directors all over the country.To me it was just kind of a routine sort of thing that he begins to develop a list of who might be available and who might be interested.I had appointed a search committee with myself as the chair.Mr. Lowder was the chairman of the athletic committee and I put him on that as well as Mr. McCartney who was president pro-tempore, at the time, of the board, along with two alumni representatives, Ruel Russell who was former president of the Alumni Association and Byron Franklin who was a former athlete that we put on the search committee.Jane Moore was also on the search committee.There was the student body president at the time on the committee.There may have been one or two others, but those are the people that come to mind.But I wanted Mike to, before the search committee met, come in and say, ďWell here is a list of 10 or 15 or so coaches that I think would be interested in this job and who they were.ĒAs virtually always happens, the press begins to pick up on any name that leaks as a possible candidate.So they began to talk about people.I got a phone call from Mike McCartney, right away, basically telling me that we werenít to proceed in any direction on this until we got the trustees together and got their input on how to proceed it.So there was a lot of interest in being involved in the search for football coach.I remember Mike McCartney telling me that hiring a football coach in Alabama was not a matter of life and death, it was more important than that.So thatís kind of how we started off.

 

Dr. Flynt: Well tell me, Iíve heard so many stories of how we got Terry Bowden.Could you give me your version of the Terry Bowden acquisition?

 

Dr. Muse: Well interestingly enough, and this is a point that has probably rarely been mentioned, I knew Terry before because he had been an assistant coach at Akron for one year when Jerry Faust came in from Notre Dame.He had hired Terry.Terry had been the head coach at a little school in West Virginia called Salem College.He hired him as a quarterback coach for a year, Jerryís first year at Akron.Then Terry left after that year to become head coach at Samford.So I had met and talked to Terry several times.In fact when Samford played Auburn, I think as our opening opponent the first year that I was here, I was down on the field and Terry came over and we chatted for a while before the game.We had a long list of some impressive head coaches around the country that had let Mike know that they were interested in the job.I asked him to add Terry Bowdenís name to the list and I realized he was at Samford and we might not be able to convince people that he was ready.I wasnít even sure that he was ready for this kind of assignment in the South.But I thought he was an up and coming coach and someone, that if we wanted to look at the I-AA ranks, should be someone we should consider.We, the search committee, eventually in a meeting had agreed upon a list of I believe seven coaches to interview, six or seven.All of those were head coaches, except one.This was at the instance of Mr. Lowder and Mr. McCartney that they wanted to add Wayne Hall, who was an assistant coach at the time, as one of the candidates to be interviewed.This cost a great deal of consternation on my part and on Mike Ludeís part.We thought that they had kind of lined up and were going to try to ensure that Wayne got the job.For various reasons, Mike and I felt that that would have been a bad decision.So we brought all the coaches in and met over at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel, right off the airport in Atlanta, and invited the coaches in for interviews there, over about a two day period.Frankly, Terry just did an excellent job in the interview.He came into the interview extremely well prepared.He was kind of hyper as he, I found out later, almost always was.So he was really very talkative, but he was very well organized in terms of what he would do as head coach and by far was the most impressive of the coaches that we interviewed.We interviewed several coaches who were head coaches at major schools in the process.When we had finished the interviewing, I think we finished in the morning and came back in the afternoon, but there was a break between when we finished interviewing and when we got back together as a search committee and try to make a decision.I remember Mike Lude and I met and we were convinced that Mr. Lowder and Mr. McCartney were going to push for Wayne Hall.He and I both were convinced that Terry was the best choice, even though he was young and inexperienced.At that time we were going to be on probation.For a couple of years we werenít going to have an opportunity to go to a bowl game.Why not bring in a younger coach and give him the opportunity to develop the talent and recruit?We were not going to have very many expectations at this point.Plus, we were just convinced that he was going to be a great coach.So I went back in the room and I decided to go around the room and ask each individual to indicate who they felt was the best choice.Interestingly enough, before we started that, Mike McCartney came over to me and said something to the effect that he thought that Terry Bowden would make a good coach.I was suspicious of that comment, but nevertheless I kind of filed it away in the back of my mind.Well, frankly, I started around the room and every person had concluded that Terry Bowden was the person we ought to hire.It was a very easy decision, as it was a unanimous decision in the search committee.There wasnít even a number two candidate.So we left there and I told Mike Lude, before we left Atlanta, to ďGet in touch with Terry as soon as you can and tell him that heís our choice and we want to make him an offer.Also discuss with him what kind of terms because word is going to get out on this fairly quickly and we need to be prepared because weíd probably have a press conference tomorrow and see if he could come to Auburn tomorrow for a press conference.ĒWell, I learned, subsequently, is that Mr. Lowder called Terry right after that meeting and told him he had the job, before Mike Lude ever got to him.In fact, he invited Terry and his wife to come to Montgomery that night and spend the night with them.He asked me to arrange a meeting of the athletic committee and the board for the next morning, in Montgomery.So Terry spent the night with Mr. Lowder and came over for that meeting with the athletic committee, which went very well.Then he and his wife drove up to Auburn, just the same time that I did, and we had a press conference here and made the announcement.What Terry concluded from all of this is that he got the job because of Mr. Lowderís influence.I could never disabuse him of that notion.He told me over and over again that Mr. Lowder hired him.Now I did not know, and Mr. Lowder had never mentioned to me, that he had met with Terry.When Terry was at Samford, his daughter had worked out there in the athletic department.So Terry put all this together and concluded that, ďThere is no way that the people at Auburn would hire me, from little Samford and young coach that I am, without some special connection.ĒHe would never believe that he sold the search committee and that he was viewed by the search committee as the best choice for the job.He believed very strongly from that day forward that he owed the job, he owed his employment, to Mr. Lowder.

 

Dr. Flynt: Do you know if there was any meeting between Terry and Lowder before the interview?

 

Dr. Muse: I donít.I donít know for sure.There are people who have told me that he did talk with Terry and prepped Terry, but I donít know that for a fact.

Dr. Flynt: Then after the hiring, Terry has a wonderful first year, goes 11-0, had a pretty good second year, third year not so good, fourth year.Ö

 

Dr. Muse: Third and fourth years he went 8-4 both years, which under normal circumstances would be a decent year, but that was following 11-0 and 9-1-1.People were getting a little restless that he wasnít doing as well as they would have liked for him to do.

 

Dr. Flynt: Do you know anything about the internal operations--that is I know, for instance, Wayne Hall was fired during that period--do you know anything about Terryís reasons for firing Hall?

 

Dr. Muse: There may have been a number of reasons.I know that and Terry has provided different reasons over time. At the time he wanted to make a change in the defensive operations of the team.He ran the offense.In fact he often talked that he wanted to get the best defensive coach that he could, turn the defense over to him and not worry about it.He would worry about running the offense and calling the plays himself.So he wanted to make a change there.I donít know if he had had any conversations with Bill Oliver before he made the change or not, but Bill Oliverís name came up fairly quickly after the decision he made to fire Wayne.I think that that decision was kind of a turning point in the relationship between Mr. Lowder and Terry.Now that relationship may have become strained because of Terryís record and his growing independence.The perception I had was that after his first year and the success that he enjoyed, Terry became increasingly resistant to influence from the outside.He never listened very well, almost from the beginning.That was one of his faults.He had enjoyed so much success and so much adulation that I couldnít get through to him.I would bring Terry over to the office to talk with him about something and an hour later I would not have gotten a word in.He would just come in and start talking and just wouldnít stop.So it was very frustrating to try to communicate to him issues about which I might have some concern.But throughout the first couple of years, my sense was that he had regular conversations with Mr. Lowder and kind of paid consistent homage to him as a person to whom he owed his employment.The more successful he got, probably the less he felt he had to do that, and began to distance himself somewhat from Mr. Lowder.These are my observations or impressions.I canít give you much in the way of specificity to verify that.But the decision to fire Wayne Hall, I think really created a pretty significant breach between Terry and Mr. Lowder.

 

Dr. Flynt: There was a fairly significant financial settlement with Hall that continued him in the role of consulting sort of like Dye had, but not as much money.Was that your initiative or was that Lowderís initiative or Terryís initiative or do you remember where that came from?

 

Dr. Muse: My recollection is that deal was worked out between Wayne and David Housel.But with Mr. Lowder definitely putting his stamp of approval on it and maybe even had been involved in some of the negotiations.

 

Dr. Flynt: Was that money from athletic funds?

 

Dr. Muse: Yes.I donít think there were any university funds that were ever used, it was simply an expense of the athletic department.

 

Dr. Flynt: As painful as it is to bring this up, there are rumors that Hall was a conduit through which money was coming from certain alums to players and that he had an infamous book with the accounts and so forth and that the consulting job was basically sort of hush money.But, obviously, I donít know if thatís true or not.Do you have any perception of whether thatís true?

 

Dr. Muse: I cannot verify that.I donít know.

 

Dr. Flynt: Had you heard rumors to that...?

 

Dr. Muse: I had heard rumors to that.In fact, during the NCAA investigation of the Eric Ramsey allegations, there were rumors that a number of different players were getting paid.Every player whose name surfaced, we had independent counsel interview them.Some would not agree to an interview.A number of them did.Those who did agree denied receiving any payments.The only athlete who was receiving illegal benefits and on which the NCAAís case based was Eric Ramsey.But throughout that whole process there were a lot of rumors.One was that there was a network of alums who each had agreed to provide X number of dollars per year for a particular player and that there was a book that listed all of these individuals and the amounts that they paid.There was even a rumor that, at one time, Wayne Hall was the keeper of the book.In fact, after he left Auburn, Terry even told me that.But that has never been verified.In the NCAA investigation there didnít turn out to be any evidence of that.

†††††

Dr. Flynt: One of the coaches who left during the Dye period and the NCAA investigation was Larry Blakney, he went to Troy State.Subsequently some years later, not long before you left in fact, Blakney was brought back in. He had been severed from the Auburn family of athletic advising and so forth by you I understand and he was brought back.Did you initiate that?Did Lowder initiate that?What was the relationship between you and Lowder in terms of that restoration?

 

Dr. Muse: There were, I believe, three different individuals who were disassociated from the institution because of their involvement in providing illegal benefits to athletes.Larry Blakney was one of those.I was required, as part of the NCAA settlement, to notify these individuals that they had been disassociated.So they could no longer have any relationship to Auburn athletics.At the time that that decision was made, the term for that disassociation was an open-ended disassociation.After five years, we had completed the probationary period.So after that probationary period was over, I was approached by a representative of the Auburn Lettermanís Club.In fact Tom Bryan was the individual that approached me about it and asked me if we could lift that disassociation.I told him I did not know.I thought weíd have to have permission of the NCAA to do it.He asked me if I would write to the NCAA.I did and the matter was referred to the committee on infractions because at that time they didnít have any apparent provision for reinstatement.The committee on infractions subsequently took that matter up and made a policy that I believe after, I think seven years, that the institution, at its discretion, could lift the disassociation penalty.The Lettermanís Association asked me subsequently if that had taken place.Once the NCAA notified me that we could do it, I lifted the disassociation on Blakney.Mr. Lowder never spoke to me about it.

 

Dr. Flynt: Another matter, also dealing with athletics, was David Houselís selection.I presume that was your initiative based upon the work youíve done here at the university before.

 

Dr. Muse: It was.As we began the process of finding a replacement for Mike Lude, I had concluded that David Housel would be a good person to do that job.I worried a little about Davidís knowledge about finances, since he did not have much of background in that area.But we had Terry Wendell, who is the associate athletic director, as the CPA, and a very good manager of money, in place.So I felt I could name someone who had these important factors: they had integrity, they would care enough about Auburn as an institution not to get it in trouble and not let things go wrong.David had the support of the Auburn people and had good skills in working with people.I felt that David met all of those requirements.He was the only candidate that I put up.I did talk with the athletic committee and the board about that and they were in agreement.So I went ahead and appointed David as athletic director.

 

Dr. Flynt: Which brings us basically to Terryís demise, in terms of his being fired.There again there are many stories that circulate, one being that basically it was Lowder who initiated that.That there was a telephone call between Terry and Lowder and Lowder more or less told him that he was not going to be back the next year.That precipitated Terryís resignation.What was your role in the final playing out?Did you basically fire him?What happened there?

 

Dr. Muse: As everyone knows, that season had gone in a steadily escalating pace downward.We, at the time, had won one game and lost five.Apparently on Monday of that week, there had been an article in the ďHuntsville TimesĒ that quoted an unknown source at Auburn and saying that Bowden would be gone by the end of the season.I didnít see that because I donít get the ďHuntsville TimesĒ and wasnít even aware of it.It was Wednesday of that week.I had been to Birmingham for a meeting, and I was driving back and David Housel called me on my car phone and told me that he had met with Terry that morning.Terry had demanded to know who the source was that said he was going to be gone by the end of the season.I believe David told me that he felt that or knew that source to be Mr. Lowder.I think David invited Terry to call Mr. Lowder and talk to him if he was concerned about it.Terry subsequently did that and came in to see him that afternoon and told him that he was resigning or he was quitting and wanted out.We actually had this conversation over some period of time because if youíve ever driven back from Birmingham you know there are some low spots in the road where you lose power, so I would have to call David back and resume the conversation.But I asked him if he could find out for me where Terry was so I could talk to Terry and see what was going on there.I had not had any conversation with Terry, had not had any conversations with Mr. Lowder, and had not had any conversations with anyone other than David about it.I got back here late afternoon, maybe 4 oíclock, I started trying to find Terry.I couldnít find him.I couldnít get an answer at home, he wasnít in his office, and I left a message on answering machines for him to call me.It wasnít until 9 or 10 oíclock that night that he called me at home.We talked for a long time, or I should say that Terry talked for a long time and I listened for a long time.But I asked him what was going on and he went through the whole scenario.The gist of it was that he had talked with Mr. Lowder and Mr. Lowder had admitted that he was the source for that article and that that was true that he was going to be gone at the end of the season.I counseled with him and told him that Mr. Lowder could not make that decision.That as an individual trustee he had no authority to make that decision.That it would be a decision of the athletic director and the president.We would evaluate the situation at the end of the season and that if he didnít show some improvement in the team, I couldnít assure him that he would keep his job at the end of the season.There had been all kinds of rumors about player un-rests and about how heíd had a number of problems with different players on the team, misbehaving and getting kicked off the team.There was a whole number of things about which we were concerned with the direction with which the program was going.I told Terry that he really needed to get control of the situation and show some improvement, but that it was not a decision that Mr. Lowder alone could make.Now, admittedly, if Mr. Lowder wanted to fire him, he could possibly get a majority of the members of the board to agree with that and they could overrule any decision I made.But theyíd have to do that in a public session.I wasnít sure if they would do that.I said that, ďBesides, you would be making a real mistake if you resigned in mid-season.Stay in there.Do the best job you can of turning things around and youíve got a reasonable chance.If you can win three out of the next four games you will have salvaged the season and it would be very difficult for anyone to muster enough strength to fire you at the end of the season.ĒAt the end of that conversation he told me that he was going to stay.David told me later that Terry came to see him Thursday and told him that he had changed his mind and that he was going to stay as coach and that he was going to do the best job he could to turn the situation around.Apparently he went to practice that day, had a good practice, and was even on the radio show at the end of the day and was all pumped up about the team being ready for the game that weekend.But something happened on Thursday night and I donít have any idea what it was.But he came in to see David Friday morning and was just a complete wreck.He said that he wanted out as soon as possible.He had called Ricky Davis, his attorney, and Ricky was going to be there by noon.Davis would negotiate the terms of the agreement, but he was out of there.He apparently met with the team and told him he was gone and left.We were sitting there Friday afternoon, before Homecoming on Saturday, with no coach and David recommended that we appoint Bill Oliver as interim coach.I agreed to that and we did.Now what happened on Thursday night, I do not know, what happened to just completely change Terryís mind, but something did and there was no persuading him differently.He wanted out and he wanted out as soon as possible.

 

Dr. Flynt: In one of the more recent episodes involving Terry Bowden affair and involving the expulsion of Terry from the house, newspaper clippings and so forth depict a scenario that worked something like this: Lowderís attorneys evict Terry, according to Terry, and then--not the university attorneys, but Lowderís attorneys--subsequently David Housel sent a letter to alumni explaining what happened.Are those sorts of things the things that bother you in terms of somebody doing something that the president ought to be doing?That is the university attorneys should be handling the house case and David should be passing letters to the alum about things like that by the president.Is that something that...?

 

Dr. Muse: It always bothered me.But frankly, for better or worse, I concluded that there was no way that those kinds of issues were going to be resolved without substantial input and involvement and, in most cases, without the initiative of Mr. Lowder.There were a few other members of the board that were equally interested, but he was clearly the person who was calling the shots.

 

Dr. Flynt: That really leads me in a new direction all together.Which is sort of chronology.Thatís the dynamics of the Board of Trustees in the way that it works.I didnít make an attempt to list all of the trustees, but obviously Emory Cunningham, John Denson, Bessie Mae Holloway, President Pro-Tem Michael McCartney, Bobby Lowder, Jimmy Samford, Charlie Glover, Jack Venable, very interesting dynamic.I know that, at least when you came, there was some fluidity in the coalition there.Tim Tatum, I didnít list, but Tatum, as you pointed out already was sort of swing voting your selection.I get the impression that at least early on there was some balance between people who supported you and I guess people, for a lack of a better term, who circulated within the orbit of Lowder.Is that a pretty accurate reading of the situation?

 

Dr. Muse: Yes.I probably didnít, even in my own mind, characterize it as people who supported me and people who were against me.Because I operated on kind of a naive optimism that I could work with anyone and could be successful in persuading anyone of the merits of a particular case.But the individuals who were consistently supportive, in the sense that they were willing to listen to an argument, and I felt understood the academic values that were often at the center of the issues that we brought forward were Emory Cunningham, John Denson, Bessie Mae Halloway, and Charlie Glover.In many cases, Jack Venable, Jim Tatum, and whomever was the superintendent of education.Both Wayne Teague and Ed Richardson were active participants on the board.They were often swing votes.They sometimes would take a position different from what I felt was the action we ought to take and other times would support it.So I viewed them as individuals who were willing to consider the merits of cases and make a decision.Mr. Samford, Mr. Lowder, Mr. McCartney, and then subsequently Senator Barron, who replaced Mr. McCartney, were always a pretty tight coalition that seemed to come into a meeting with their minds made up one way or another.Subsequently, Mr. Spina, when he joined the board, and Mr. Rane also seemed to be, it was almost as though that group had talked about the things that were important to them before a meeting and came into the meeting pretty well with their mind made up.

 

Dr. Flynt: Which brings up the question that sort of secret sessions, which Will Bailey had told me about before his death, that is there is almost always a meeting beforehand at which all sorts of things were taken up. A lot of times he sensed that there had been prior talk about those issues by trustees.Did you find that also true?

 

Dr. Muse: Well, there very well could have been because in sessions of that sort I would not have been included.But I felt, on a number of occasions, that there had been significant conversations, either they had gotten together and talked about it or talked on the phone and reached a conclusion.In many cases, it would be an issue that we would subsequently table at the meeting because they had not agreed to that issue being passed.We would have to go back and meet with one or more of those board members and make changes in the policy or make changes in a proposal to meet their satisfaction.

 

Dr. Flynt: Would it be fair to say that Mr. Lowder seems to prefer private meetings rather than public meetings?

 

Dr. Muse: I think thatís definitely the case.Itís probably not uncommon for someone coming out of the private sector to want to cut those deals or make sure that he knows what the answer is before heíll go into a public meeting.

 

Dr. Flynt: There are a lot of different interpretations at the root of Lowderís micro management, if in fact that is the case.One is the argument that he would really like to return the university to what he views as its original mission in science and agriculture education.One is that he just has a penchant for micro management coming out of the private sector.†† Really his obsession with football may be a combination of one or more of these factors.What is your view of what makes him tick, what makes him get so involved in the internal management at the university.

 

Dr. Muse: Well, I would have to acknowledge after working, or trying to work with him, over nine years that he is still an enigma to me. I donít really know what he wants.I probably know more about what he doesnít want.Because most of his focus is in terms of, ďWe donít want thatĒ or ďNo thatís not the direction we want to go.ĒVery infrequently, if at all, any indication of this is where we want to go, this is the kind of university we want to be, or this is the kind of value we want to promote, or the kind of result we want to achieve.That is what made it so frustrating in many cases, to work with him or try to work with that.In many cases, I felt that I never was able to work with him in any kind of a partnership perspective.It was always that he was willing to tell me what he wanted done or what he wanted not to occur.But very little of a ďLetís sit down together and talk this through and reach a conclusion we both can support.Ē

 

Dr. Flynt: I even told Ed Richardson during the policy setting process that Ed seemed to be relatively supportive of you as a trustee, but then aligned with Lowder and by the Fall of Ď98 was openly critical of your leadership and the reorganization procedure.In conversations with me, he referred to a night meeting before a trustee meeting the next day, when he says that the trustees understood that you agreed to reorganization and to university cuts, prioritizing that would be very painful.Then over night you had second thoughts.So when the trustees met the next day they felt like you had gone back on your word.I regret that I donít have the exact date that all this happened, but I presume sometime in April of Ď98, because thatís the meeting that contained all this ďblow upĒ as he described it.That is in turn the meeting that led to the Role Commission.I understand you suggested that as a way of trying to bring the faculty on one side and the trustees on the other side together.But Iíd like to know the dynamic of what all is going on there.It seems that thereís some rejection of your recommendation from the 21st Century Commission, a rejection of your leadership somewhere and Ed sort or switches sides, if thatís the proper metaphor, at that point.So can you help me understand what is going on there?

 

Dr. Muse: Yes.Let me go back a little further.As you recall, Mr. Lowder was removed from the board by Governor James and he was off for a period of about 18 months.It was during that time that Governor James enacted, or initiated I should say, and the legislature had enacted a seven and a half percent cut in our state appropriation.Then the two years that followed that, we got no increase.We had initiated a number of changes during that time frame, to adjust to these reductions in revenue.We had had a retirement incentive and had done some other things.The Provost, Paul Parks, and Don Large, who was the chief financial officer, and I had met on a number of occasions, trying to develop a long term plan as to how we were going to deal with this problem.I think the first meeting after Mr. Lowder came back on the board, he virtually demanded that we come forward with a plan, that we need to make some major cuts in our operation.So we spent a great deal of time, we being Dr. Parks, Dr. Large, and myself, in developing a plan.In fact, the board called a special meeting and that was the only topic on the agenda.I believe it was in July of 1997.We came forward with a plan.We had done a lot work on this even prior to that, so it wasnít too difficult to put it together within a short time frame.It called for a reorganization of the university, called for a reduction of academic programs, and called for reallocating, I think, about two percent per year over a five-year period.But it also had as a goal to raise our faculty salaries up to the regional average and to raise our spending on deferred maintenance.A major part of that was to raise our tuition over a period of time to the regional average.Because of the change that had just been effected, in definition of the residency requirement, to move our enrollment to a point where one third of our students were paying full out of state tuition, we showed how all of that worked and presented that to the board.I think they were stunned by it because of the depth of the thinking and they approved that for that meeting.That was the plan that we started to work on.I think it wasnít very long after that that, I donít know if it was before the next meeting or whether we had a board meeting in between, but Mr. Lowder asked Dr. Large and I to come down to Montgomery to meet with him.We did and he startled me by basically saying to me that he didnít think that we had cut deeply enough.Even though we showed that, if over a five-year period we did the things we did, we could bring our salaries up and we could meet the deferred maintenance requirements.It didnít call for reducing programs other than the ones we were going to phase out because they didnít meet the viability standards.That was a major part of our strategy.His statement to me was basically to the point that he wanted me to get out of the way.That the board would take over reorganizing the university and make the deeper cuts that he wanted to see made.I told him that I didnít think that would be a good idea.I thought that the university was in a stage where that would be extremely disruptive on the part of the faculty.I just didnít think that he ought to do that, that the board ought to do that.It was not a good idea.I said, ďLet me think about some different way we might approach this.ĒWe left the meeting with the issue unresolved.Don Large and I talked about this all the way back to the campus.Between the two of us we came up with the idea of a commission.Let the board appoint five people and then Iíll appoint five people and then weíll go about this in a very systematic way.Weíll look at any proposal for reorganization, of combining departments or colleges, and weíll look at the whole issue of program review and what programs might be eliminated.†† He agreed to that, he agreed to the notion of the commission and thatís how that came to life.The next meeting, the board appointed the commission and the board at the time appointed its five members and I selected five faculty or administrators to serve with them.Then the commission began to try to go about this in a fairly open and systematic manner, inviting proposals, having faculty committees review the proposals both for organizational changes and for programatic changes, and then to bring that forward to the commission.Iím sure that was frustrating to Mr. Lowder and probably the rest of the board.He probably saw this as my way to circumvent his ability to just come in a carve out whatever programs he wanted to do and perhaps it was.But in retrospect, I think we made it through that process with relatively little damage, other then that it certainly heightened the anxieties on the part of everyone who feared that their programs were going to be cut out.But the ultimate plan that then I was subsequently asked to summit to the commission and then to the board for approval was probably 95 percent of what the original plan was.It wasnít much different than what we had originally submitted.Weíd put the campus through a huge ordeal.There were some changes that were made that werenít originally contemplated in terms of combining departments.But I felt that in every case there was some merit to the proposal, and certainly wouldnít do any harm, and could potentially save some administrative cost and improve the quality of the academic program.

 

Dr. Flynt: Iím really curious about the procedure of a trustee, not the president pro tem, but just a trustee calling you and Don Large down to Montgomery.Does that seem highly irregular?It certainly seems highly irregular within the pecking order. I can understand the trustees calling you to report, you and Don.I can understand the president pro tem.But I canít understand an individual trustee calling you.

 

Dr. Muse: Itís irregular.Let me contrast it with the way that the board operated at Akron.At Akron all of my communication with the board and the board to me on issues of business or things that were to come before the board was through the chairman of the board.I had regular conversations with the chairman of the board.I would meet with that .erson to go over the agenda before each meeting.If there were issues that came up before or between meetings, he and I would talk about it or she and I would talk about it. I had both male and female chairs during that time.If there was an individual board member who was concerned about something then heíd call the chairman about it and the chairman would talk with me about it.If an individual trustee was very upset about something, I didnít mind calling him to see what information he had and try to deal with that.The board had committees and when those committees met they were open meetings and a whole variety of issues could be discussed.But relatively little involvement by individual trustees.They operated as a board not as individual trustees.So what happened here at Auburn, and I would guess still is happening here at Auburn, is that individual trustees involve themselves in a particular matter and exert considerable influence over them.The point that I had made on a number of occasions to members of my staff, who were often involved in being contacted by a board member, is to remind them that an individual trustee has no authority.The Alabama constitution gives tremendous amounts of authority to the Board of Trustees.Meeting as a body and making decisions in a public session, they can do virtually anything that they might want to do, to or for the university, because the constitution gives them the authority to manage and control the institution.It gives no authority to an individual trustee.So an individual trustee going to the chief financial officer and telling him I want you to do this, if the chief financial does that, as I reminded him, you are completely on your own.That individual has no authority to ask you or tell you to do this, so if you do it and that turns out to be a bad decision or if you violate the law itís your job on the line, itís your reputation on the line because that individual is probably going to disavow ever having talked with you about it.I tried to remind them of that.But it creates a tremendously awkward situation for any university employee, even though they may understand that.This individual, because they are a trustee, who asks about or suggest that a person be hired or the person be fired or that money be spent in a certain way, exercises influence without accountability.

 

Dr. Flynt: Which really brings me to the years between Ď98 and the 10-person commission.My sense is that things go downhill very rapidly from there.That, for instance, questions like interference with the alumni association demands that you refund the alumni magazine, that the magazine was largely a criticism of the trustees, approaches to individuals within the administration, extending beyond the athletic director, Housel, including Don Large and others.Could you give me a narrative of whatís going on there?Is that a fair statement in terms of the rapid decline of relations with Lowder and other members of the board?

 

Dr. Muse: There were several issues that triggered an increasingly volatile environment.I believe that perhaps for the first time, or certainly for the first time in a highly visible way, Mr. Lowder was identified as the individual who pulled the trigger in the Terry Bowden firing.This was uncharacteristic because in almost every case where he wanted to have something done on the board or off the board, he got someone else to do it, one of the other trustees.Even a case where it might be something he would oppose at a board meeting and didnít want to pass, it would be someone else who would make the motion to table, rather than him.It was always kind of behind the scenes.But for whatever the reasons, he got right in the middle of the Bowden dismissal and got identified very clearly by the press and subsequently just a huge amount of public criticism.The mail that I got, email as well as regular mail, was just enormous on that case.Even the people who agreed that Bowden ought to go, and there were a fair number that just kind of pure sports fans that thought he lost control of the team and he ought to go, still did not agree with the way it was done, the huge amount of negative publicity that Auburn got.As you might remember because there were so many alumni writing in about this subject, the Auburn Magazine published, not all, but some of the letters and I think they made an attempt to present a balanced view, but that view was almost totally negative.There were very few positive letters that they got.That certainly angered Mr. Lowder who felt it wasnít the position of the alumni magazine to publish letters to the editor and certainly letters that were negative.Now I might say that there were a fair number of those letters that were very negative about me as well, and my leadership at the university through this, as well as David Housel.It wasnít totally focused on Mr. Lowder, but as we all do we focus on those things that speak about us and he was quit miffed about that.As he was about the ďPlainsman,Ē that was very open in its coverage of that matter and its criticism of him and his role.The Alumni Association Board was hearing all of this criticism from their constituents as well.I donít know that it was a direct result of that, but they agreed to reconsider the management of the credit card, which had been handled by Colonial Bank from its inception up to that time and requested bids from other credit card companies.The got a bid from MBNA that was superior to the one that was submitted by Colonial Bank/First USA, which promoted the credit card.So they accepted the better bid, which you could argue they should have done on a business basis, but was also not well received by Mr. Lowder.All of that kind of led to an effort that was focused on firing Betty Dement because she had allowed this to happen, as well as to get members on the alumni board that were more favorable to the Board of Trustees, being defined as Mr. Lowder.Also, you know about the effort that was made there to try to replace a slate that had come from the nominating committee.The slate had been published in the magazine and it would normally have been a perfunctory gesture to elect them at Homecoming.But a new slate of individuals who reportedly would be more favorable to Mr. Lowder was presented.

 

Dr. Flynt: Also during that period of time there was a proposal by Lowder to look into the distinguished university professors, to put them on a term limitation rather than permanent employment.At least in one case, the dean suggested that perhaps that was aimed at me and I have no idea of whether thatís true or not.Do you have any sense of whether Lowder was actually reaching towards balancing people in the faculty, that level of meddling in the university?

 

Dr. Muse: I canít say for sure.There was a question asked either at the board meeting or at a committee meeting about the distinguished university professors and if there was a time limit on those appointments and what the review process was for reappointments and so on.We were asked, Paul and I, to look into that and to report back to the board.When this issue was raised, in my recollection, and Iím pretty clear that no names were mentioned and it was only rumor as to what the emphasis might be for that question.We did go back in the board files and found when that resolution had been adopted by the board and also looked at correspondence that Jim Martin had had with individuals who were appointed at the time.We did some work on what might be a policy that did provide for some review after a certain period of time.But, to my knowledge, nothing has ever been done.The board didnít follow up on its interest in that matter and nothing has been done about a formal review process.

 

Dr. Flynt: An administrator at another university cornered me and said, ďYou know Dr. Muse should have fought harder, especially over the question of the new provost.ĒHis perception was that Bill Walker was not your choice and that was more or less imposed on you.He said, ďWell, if Dr. Muse had just resigned or resigned then and said Iím going public and Iím going to say that Walker was not my person, this was imposed on me, this is the example of micro management, and Iím not going to accept that.Things might have been different.ĒFirst of all is that correct?Is it a correct assumption that Walker was not your choice as far as provost, that that was imposed?And, number two, what do you think about the policy of this confrontation of the board?

 

Dr. Muse: Well, first of all, Walker was my choice.The search committee for provost had only two finalists that they recommended to me, Bill Walker and an individual who was the provost, I think he was the term executive vice president, for Michigan Tech.He was a capable guy, but I felt the experience he had was not comparable to what Bill Walker had.I had been impressed with the job that Bill Walker had done as Dean of Engineering.I felt he had done a good job as the interim provost.So the final decision on the appointment was clearly mine.I did discuss it with the executive committee of the board as I was required to do and the boardís by-laws required them to approve the appointment of the provost at the Auburn campus and a chancellor AUM.So the board had to approve that.And by discussing it with them in advance, I found that they were very agreeable about appointing Bill Walker, but he was clearly my choice.

 

Dr. Flynt: Did you feel uncomfortable in the sense of having people around you that you could trust?I know that if the earlier comments you made about contact trustees had directly with people in the administration, whether that be Housel or whether that be Don Large or whether that be Bill Walker or even Gerald Leischuck, earlier when you said that Gerald Leischuck actually delivered a message from the trustees to you.I presume you need to have people around you that you have confidence in and that you feel have loyalty to you.Was there a sense during your term here at Auburn that you were sort of isolated and that there werenít people around you that you could trust?

 

Dr. Muse: Well youíve got to recognize that I came in from the outside.I didnít know a single person at Auburn when I took the job here.So immediately Iím thrust into a situation where I have to learn over a period of time who I can and who I cannot trust.Iím basically a very trusting person, and probably to my detriment in some ways, because I have learned that people that I have trusted and who Iíve taken into my confidence were duplicitous and were working at the same time to undo the things I was trying to accomplish.So I generally went into the situation and Iím very much an ďon top of the tableĒ kind of person.If there is a problem I would want to lay it out there in the open with the people with whom I work and say, ďWhat do you think about that?What should we do about that?Tell me what you know about it?Letís see if we can find a solution that we can all agree with.ĒI find it extremely disappointing when I find that someone is pursing an agenda other than the one that they put on the table.So I, over a period of time here at Auburn, generally felt that the people with whom I had surrounded myself were people that I can trust.Probably the most difficult case for me was that of Gerald Leischuck.Gerald was a very hardworking, knowledgeable, and effective employee.It also became clear to me, not too far into my tenure here, that he had the trust of and the confidence of the leadership of the board.So that both troubled me, but it also assisted me because I could use him effectively in communicating with the board.With many board members I had a fairly open and continuing conversation.I had very few conversations with Mr. Lowder that were not initiated by me.Now he would talk to me if I would call him on the phone, but he would never call me or very rarely call me.I think the few times he called me was when he was just incensed by something that I had done and couldnít go through intermediaries, had to come to me directly.But generally if he was disturbed by something he would call Dr. Leischuck and Gerald would say, ďMr. Lowder is angry about this or he heard this or heard that.You need to call him and try to get this straightened out.ĒSo he was an effective liaison for me with the board, and that in many respects I would say he was a very effective board secretary.He served the president well, but if it came down to a decision about whether he supported the board or supported the president, he would support the board.The role of the board secretary is an interesting one and Iíve seen this in a number of different schools.Probably the most effective secretary for me in performing the role as it should be performed was when Lynne Hammond was in that role.I had selected her and had the support of the board during a time when Mr. Lowder was off the board.In fact, Cunningham was the chair to appoint her as the secretary.She did the job with great proficiency, but didnít go beyond what a boardís secretary was supposed to do.She took the minutes, she arranged for the meetings, she handled correspondence, she did all of things she was supposed to do, but she did not get involved in the politics of the board, which eventually led to their decision, after Mr. Lowder came back on the board, that they wanted their ďown secretary.Ē Itís something I probably should never have agreed to because it was a part of the unraveling that occurred.But they insisted.Mainly my conversations were with Mr. Samford, who was president pro-tem at the time.But the board wanted its own secretary.They wanted that individual to report to them and not to the president.Itís an absolutely unlivable situation, but I agreed to it under the plan that Mrs. Hammond would then be my full time executive assistant.She was serving both as executive assistant to the President and secretary of the board and I never felt she had adequate time to do that.So I agree to make her a full time executive assistant and then thatís when they selected Grant Davis to be secretary to the board.Since that time Davis does not report to me or does not report to the president.He reports to the board.It creates a very difficult situation for the president on the campus.I donít think that Dr. Leischuck and I ever talked about this in any depth, but I understood over a period of time where his loyalties were.I understood that if it came down to an issue about whether he would support the board or support me, he would support the board.In many cases his role was to keep the board informed about what I was doing, to alert them if I was straying off course and going in a direction that they didnít favor.He would let them know that and thatís when I would be called on the carpet to talk somebody about how I was getting too liberal, mainly, as they saw it.There have been a number of cases where that surfaced.But in spite of that, he was an effective conduit for me and even though Iíd have to admit some uneasiness about that relationship all the time he served, I think he served me well.

 

Dr. Flynt: Obviously from our conversation earlier and your answer to a lot of questions, the answer to this question is clear, but nonetheless I feel obligated to ask it for the purposes of historians looking at this in the future.Perhaps the single most important and persistent charge against the board and particularly Mr. Lowder is that it micro manages the university.Would it be your conclusion, after working nearly a decade at Auburn, that the board is overly intrusive and micro manages the university?

 

Dr. Muse: Without a doubt.

 

Dr. Flynt: Ok.In that regard of course Governor Fob James was going to try to do something about the board.I never quite understood the dynamics of what went on there.Iíve talked to Emory Cunningham about this before his death and obviously Emory played some role in trying to get the governor to do something about the board.But could you help me understand what the dynamic was with Governor James, how he got interested?Did you talk with him about the problems on the board?That relationship.

 

Dr. Muse: Talk about enigmas.Fob James is certainly one.I had very few, what I would consider to be, productive conversations with him.I met with him when he was a candidate and then subsequently met with him after he was elected.I indicated my desire to work with him.I donít believe that I ever talked to him directly about the board itself.There were other people who undoubtedly did, because he had made a statement to someone, it may have been to John Denson, that may be where I heard it, I donít remember for sure, but that he was going to not reappoint Mr. Lowder.Now why he didnít move aggressively to do that, I donít know.I think everyone expected that he was going to appoint someone to replace Mr. Lowder.You might recall that the term expired on January 1st.The governor was inaugurated on January 10th or something of the sort.It wasnít until September that he came forward with the nomination of Phil Richardson to replace Mr. Lowder.All during that time there was speculation that he was not going to reappoint Mr. Lowder.All this did was to give Mr. Lowder sufficient time to get organized, in my opinion, to oppose the nomination that he brought forward and do so successfully, as he did.I believe, I may be wrong, but I believe if he had come forward with a nomination as soon the legislative session opened that it would have had a much higher probability of being approved.As a new governor and utilizing his clout as a new governor to have his appoints approved.But he did not do that and any meeting that I had with him as governor had led me to leave that meeting with a great sense of disappointment and disillusion.He would range from almost kind of total preoccupation, while you were visiting with him, with something else and therefore you left there feeling that you didnít ever get your point across, or to him jumping into the most minute detail about some issue that was completely unwarranted or uncharacteristic of someone in a position as governor.Rather than looking at the broad picture, looking at the policy implications and what action might be taken, he wanted to look at the specific numbers and often even those were wrong and misguided.But in spite of all of his disorganization and lack of direction, I believe he could have successfully replaced Mr. Lowder had he acted quickly.

 

Dr. Flynt: The other side of that is that Mr. Lowder uses the political process, apparently very well.I know pretty well for sure that he and Wayne Hall both supported Jim Folsom, Jr., for governorÖthinking that he would win against James and then subsequently heavily supported Don Siegelman when James ran for reelection.I presume that the board controlled the quid pro quo for these contributions.Do you know anything? I mean is this something you have firsthand knowledge of?

 

Dr. Muse: I have no firsthand knowledge of that.The results would certainly seem to substantiate such an argument.I could see no reason why Mr. Lowder would give substantial sums to Don Siegelman, for example, other than for that reason, because I donít see any political philosophy emanating from Mr. Lowder or any issue in which heís interested other than the board.To be the largest contributor and to give the kind of money he did, it almost had to be with the understanding that he controlled future board appointments.

 

Dr. Flynt: The subsequent appointments, we donít need to go into individuals, but the subsequent appointments, from your experience at Akron and Texas A&M and so forth, would you consider this to be a distinguished board in terms of credentials they brought to the selection process or does it seem to you to be a rather not impressive board in terms of the credentials they bring?

 

Dr. Muse: Iíd say in terms of credentials, certainly not impressive, not for the institution that is the largest institution in the state and clearly one of the two most prestigious boards on which to serve and also given the tremendous wealth of talent that exists in the state among Auburn graduates.The board at Akron, and Akron was one of 12 state universities and by far not the most prestigious one, generally had trustees with better credentials.When I went there, the chairman of the board of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was the chairman of the board, the executive vice president for Firestone was on the board, and very distinguished business executives and community leaders.Now members of the state legislature were prohibited from serving on boards there as they are in most states.But the individuals generally were much more distinguished in terms of their professional careers than are the individuals who have served on the board here.An exception to that would be a person like Emory Cunningham who was a very distinguished business executive and community leader.Mr. Lowder, by virtue of his position, would be the kind of person that you would expect to serve on this board as a CEO of a major bank.But as a group in general, the board at Auburn is not of the caliber.And there are many of them are very decent people and good people, but not distinguished in terms of their professional accomplishments as I would expect of a university of the stature of Auburn.

 

Dr. Flynt: Mr. Lowder responded to that kind of criticism by saying that heís only one trustee and he doesnít really have any influence over the board.Would that be your conclusion or do you feel that he is the dominant trustee on the board?

 

Dr. Muse: I would conclude that very clearly he is the most influential and the dominant force on the board.Itís rare that any one of the trustees would vote against him.Now there are any number of issues about which he cares very little and probably does not attempt to exert any influence.But on an issue about which he has concern and makes his position known, most of the trustees on the board now, almost all of them would vote with him.One issue where they really did kind of divide themselves was on the issue of the Ph.D. in economics, because that was a seven to four vote.In spite of a recommendation from the academic program review committee that that program be retained, a recommendation from the provost and a clear recommendation from me that that program be retained, the board voted to discontinue it.John Denson, Emory Cunningham, Bessie Mae Holloway, and one other person voted for that program.

 

Dr. Flynt: Was it Charlie Glover?

 

Dr. Muse: No, it wasnít Charlie Glover, because Charlie acquiesced in that case and Mr. Lowder and I think Mr. Samford, perhaps Senator Barron, really worked on him.He, Charlie, at that time was very interested in seeing Auburn affiliate with Wallace State Community College in Hanceville.Itís in his community.We had had discussions with the folks at Hanceville and Charlie held out hope that we might take that on as a branch campus.They used that and basically indicated to him that this issue would never come to the board if he didnít support the elimination of economics.Mr. Glover himself told me this afterwards in explaining his actions.

 

Dr. Flynt: Intriguing.In November of Ď96, you were one of three finalists for the presidency at the University of Minnesota, which at the time had 48,000 students.That was the time that Governor James had just ousted Bobby Lowder and Jim Tatum temporarily, Emory Cunningham emerged as a trustee leader, and they crafted a five-year contract extension.Could you tell me a little about the Minnesota situation, that is did you get the offer or did they just not move to the end of that process, or was it the outpouring of emotion from the faculty trying to get you to stay?What went on there?

 

Dr. Muse: I was contacted by an executive search firm and asked if I would be interested in being considered for the job at Minnesota.Interestingly enough, our daughters, both Amy and Ellen, had lived in Minneapolis.Ellen had lived there for three years and worked for one of the large hospitals in Minneapolis and Amy had gone up there to act in regional theater and had gotten a job with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in development.They both loved the city.We had gone up there several times just to visit them.We also have long time friends who were from a small town not too far from Minneapolis.So there was kind of a connection to Minnesota that you wouldnít normally be aware of.I went up and had an interview with their search committee and this was another case where the chemistry seemed to really work well with the search committee.Obviously, in this case I did have a substantial amount of information about the university and was impressed with the way that the state of Minnesota funded higher education and just the enormous university that that is, one of the top 10 or 15 public universities in the country.The search committee then subsequently recommended three people as finalists, myself, a woman who at that time was president of Portland State University, and the former Dean of the law school and Provost at the time at University of Texas.My conversations with the search consultant indicated he felt that I had the lead, that I had the most support on the search committee.They were really encouraging me to pursue that further.Unfortunately at this time the process was supposed to be private until the day at which the three candidates came in for a final interview and at that time it would have to public.But he was trying to assure me that if I came in for an interview, he was confident that once I did the interview that the job would be mine.But information leaked about the three candidates a week or two before that was supposed to occur.So the word got out down here that I was being considered for that position.I had struggled with that and had hoped it would be private throughout, so I wouldnít have to undergo what I underwent here.But it was clearly a job that was attractive to me because of the size and the prestige of that university.When it did become public here, I was kind of unprepared for two things that occurred.One was a very responsive and aggressive effort by Emory Cunningham to keep me here at Auburn.He was the president pro-tem of the board at the time.Mr. Lowder was off, as you might recall.Iíve often looked at the board as three kinds of very distinct phases of my presidency.The first five years or so it was that the problems were coming at me so fast and so furious.I was dealing with each one on them with a fairly high degree of success and making major advancements here, being aware that, particularly in the area of athletics, the board had a desire and almost a demand that they be involved in the decisions.But again beginning to recognize the challenge that I had in working with the board.But successfully dealing with that, but at the same time paying a price in terms of just the constant frustration and amount of time I had to exert to get anything through the board that they sensed was not what they wanted to accomplish.So I was receptive to the offer from Minnesota.That was the first job I had interviewed for after coming to Auburn.I had been approached a number of times by other schools, but just felt that it either was not a job in which I was willing to pursue or didnít feel it was appropriate to look at another job at that juncture.Again after it became public, Emory worked diligently.He got Tom Cauthers, an attorney in Birmingham, to work with me and he said, ďWhat could I do to keep you here?You know you have been so good for Auburn and I want to see you stay here and continue your work.ĒI said, ďWhat Iíd like to have would be a contract that would take me out to the time when I get the ten years in and get vested.Increase in pay would be fine, but thatís not necessary, but it would be a justification for me turning down MinnesotaBut the contract was the principle thing.Well, let me go back to my original point that the first five years was frustrating and challenging, but productive.The year and a half when Dr. Cunningham was the president pro-tem and Mr. Lowder was off was a 180-degree turn from what the previous board had been.Individuals who had been very subservient to Mr. Lowder, and who were clearly acting on directions or influence from him, acted very differently during the time he was off the board.It was a very cooperate board, a very friendly board.I felt Iíd discovered Camelot.Working with Dr. Cunningham was great.I came to work every day almost singing and Iíd call him on the phone or Iíd go up to Birmingham to meet with him.I had so much energy and so much positive feeling about the board.So when he made the effort he made to keep me at Auburn, I felt almost I had an obligation to him to stay here.The other thing that I was just totally unprepared for was the outpouring of support from the campus and the community and the reception that was arranged for us.It was just a clear indication of that support.Marlene and I concluded from that we just needed to stay here.So I was within a couple or three days of going up to Minnesota for the final round of interviews and I think in that period of time, one of the candidates withdrew.The lady who was at Portland State accepted a job as president of the University of Vermont, so it was just up to two people, Mark Udoff who was eventually appointed and myself.I donít know whether Iíd gotten the job or not, but chances were pretty good that I would have.But I withdrew and then heís the only person they brought in and interviewed at the final stages and appointed.But I made an inaccurate assumption during that process.I made an assumption that Mr. Lowder was not going to get back on the board.At the time I think the circuit court or district court, the lower court, had ruled against him in his lawsuit, but the Supreme Court had not yet heard it.But given the lower court ruling, I figured that he was not going to get back on the board and my working relationship with the board was so good during that time frame, that was another factor.Now the third period was when Mr. Lowder came back on the board.Thatís when it really became mean spirited, when nothing I could do was right no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much success I could show in terms of what the university was doing, it was never enough and I was never the person who was responsible for the success.In every case that the board felt it should be given credit for these great things that were being accomplished.It was then in which my job became so much less satisfying and less attractive to me and itís when I began to look at a number of other job opportunities.

 

Dr. Flynt: That helps make sense, because in the ďBirmingham NewsĒ on November 19, 1996, Paul Spina responded to your possibility of leaving.ďHeís done an excellent job as our president.I have mixed emotions. I wish him the best, but I would like to keep him to keep some continuity.ĒSo I guess we can take that more or less at face value given the change in the nature of some of the trustee relations during that period of time.Is that right?

 

Dr. Muse: Well, the board at that time got a vote almost unanimously offering me the new contract.I say almost unanimously because there was one person who didnít show up for that meeting and who didnít vote to do that and that was Senator Barron.That may have been a signal to me, because he has been as painful and in some cases a more painful thorn in my side than Mr. Lowder.Mr. Lowder has gotten most of the criticism, but Senator Barron has been equally invasive, intrusive, and mean spirited.

 

Dr. Flynt: Even Bobby Lowder was quoted in the paper as saying that he supported you and wanted you to stay in Auburn.Do you think thatís correct?

 

Dr. Muse: I doubt it.

 

Dr. Flynt: What happened at the University of Florida?Thatís the spring 2000.

 

Dr. Muse: Well this was during the time when things had begun to get less comfortable for me here.This was a case of the consultant calling me and asking me if I would be willing to consider that possibility.I told him that I knew that Florida had the sunshine laws and I just did not want to go through that with the openness of the process.He said, ďWell, if you will agree to be a candidate, what Iíll do is that I will hold your name out until the absolute last minute, then announce the finalists.I can guarantee you that you will be a finalist for the job if youíll agree to consider it.ĒIncidentally, it was the same consultant that I worked with on the Minnesota search.So he and I knew each other or we knew each other reasonably well.I thought a lot about that and finally agreed because I felt that the situation here had just deteriorated and was probably going to continue to deteriorate.I had a contract that would allow me to stay until the end of the 10 years.The other assumption that I made, and this was another case where I should have looked at this more carefully, is that I assumed that I could buy additional years of service to meet the 10 year requirement.In fact, I remember reading a document talking about that you could buy additional years of service for service with other public institutions of the state.So I just assumed that if I was offered the job at Florida and took it, that I could buy the additional year and a half or two years that I would need to meet the requirement.It begin to look as though I had a reasonable chance to get that job.We went into it initially as the primary competition that I had was Jim Moeser who was at the University of Nebraska at the time.After the names had been announced, he accepted a job at Chapel Hill and so it left me as the remaining candidate with the most experience, at least at the most complex schools.So I felt reasonably good about my chances.I figured Iíd better verify that the retirement system requirements could be met and I subsequently learned and talked to Bill Stevens, I think it is, down at the retirement system about it, that an employee has to get the 10 years in before they can buy additional years of service, unless you can buy for military service.I donít have any military service so I couldnít use that.I even talked to him in some length about any way to get around that.About the only thing he could suggest is that I could get the legislature to sponsor a bill that would speak to my specific situation.I said, ďThereís no way Iím going to do that.ĒSo that became a significant factor.If Iíd gone ahead and taken the job at that point I would not have been able to qualify for the 10-year retirement.Thatís not an insignificant sum.

 

Dr. Flynt: Itís a tremendous sum.

 

Dr. Muse: To me, it represents an income of about $40,000 a year for the rest of my life and for Marlene as well, so I couldnít just walk away from that.But there are two other things that bothered me about the situation at Florida.One was the statement by some members of the faculty down there that they didnít think that anyone other than someone who came from an AAU school could possibly understand or provide effective leadership for the university.That irritated me.I felt that the job I had done here at Auburn was not only exemplary, but that the environment here was probably the toughest of any university in the country.Iíve had even outside folks that I know make that comment to me that they canít imagine a tougher presidency in the nation than the one here at Auburn.If I could manage my way through the situation here, I didnít think Iíd have any difficulty in Florida even though it was a larger university.So that irritated me and also the politics that were going on in the state at the time.A bill going through the legislature, which eventually passed, to eliminate the Board of Regents and install individual boards for each institution.So I was looking at a process where the board that would hire me would be phased out and a totally new board would be put in that would undoubtedly be highly political.I just didnít think that was a good situation.So those three reasons combined led me to withdraw at a time when the president of Florida Atlantic University and I were the only two remaining candidates.You know Iíve thought about it, whether I made a bad decision in pulling out at that point, but I did.Interesting thing to me about the dynamics of the board at that time is that, whereas in the Minnesota case there was clearly an effort on the part of the board to keep me to stay, there was absolutely no move on the part of the board at the time I was considering Florida to encourage me to stay here.In fact, Mr. Samford went to pains at the board meeting, that happened shortly after that became public, almost encouraged me to take the job at Florida, commending me for being a finalist and talking about the great job I had done here and wishing me well and so on.Certainly, privately, all I got from the board was encouragement to take that job; so from a professional perspective I probably should have.I would think that had I remained there, if I hadnít pulled out, I would have gotten the job, but I would have lost the investment I met in the retirement system here.

 

Dr. Flynt: Thereís a series of questions to end with that basically look at specific kinds of accomplishments that I think youíve made, from my point of view at least.Your decision to hire David Wilson as vice president for outreach, which reportdly infuriated some commodity groups, first of all is that true?Do you think they were primarily upset about your reorganization of agriculture or the fact that a black man for the first time was going to be the vice president?

 

Dr. Muse: I think it was probably a little of both.The process there was an interesting one.David emerged from the search as the strongest candidate.I remember Paul Parks and I talking about it at the time, after we had interviewed David.We were very impressed with him and wanted to hire him.The fact that he was a native of Alabama, we thought, would be a benefit as he was coming into a position where he was going to be in charge of outreach.One of the initiatives that I had made at that time was to try to get some focus on the Black Belt, to bring our expertise and knowledge to focus on that region.Itís such an albatross around the stateís neck.No one in a state leadership position wants to deal with it.They just kind of totally ignore the problem.I felt that maybe through the university, and certainly not in a short term but over a long term, we could do some things that provide greater economic opportunity, provide educational opportunity, and cultural development in the Black Belt region.I felt that David would be an ideal person to lead that.Now, interestingly enough, the person who was most opposed to hiring David Wilson was Senator Barron.He got me aside at a particular function and told me in no uncertain terms he could not support that, that we just did not need to bring a person like that into that position.Probably to my long-term detriment, I told him that I felt he was by far the strongest person for that job.I felt that he was the kind of person that Auburn needed at this time in its history.Not just symbolically, but what he could do if we wanted to make some meaningful impact on the state.I basically held to my guns and went ahead and appointed David to that position.Now, I donít recall, there may have been specific opposition from the commodity groups, because I certainly think that the folks at Alfa would not be enthusiastic about this.But, I donít recall anyone from the commodity groups coming to me directly and expressing opposition to that appointment.You might recall that shortly thereafter is when we reached the final settlement on the long running Title VI higher education desegregation law suit and agreed to the unification of Alabama A&M and Auburn into one extension system.We conducted a search at that juncture.That was a matter over which the commodity groups were very much interested.It took me a difficult time to get Steve Jones hired because he was a person from outside.He was perfectly acceptable credential wise, but he was somebody coming in from the outside to deal with that issue.But I felt that he was again the person, if we were going to have any reasonable chance of getting Alabama A&M and Auburn to work together, we had to bring someone in from the outside.We had to bring someone that neither side viewed as their person, but who could work to try to bring them together.I think Dr. Jones has done that.We, by no stretch of the imagination, operated without any tension or problems in the working agreement between A&M and Auburn, but it is a light year away from where we started.There is a reasonable working relationship between the two institutions and the extension system is unified to that effect.

 

Dr. Flynt: Which leads me into another question.Because you wrote a series of off hand columns for papers in the state about tax reform and other matters and at the time there was some concern, I know, about whether this was wise on your part, because you were taking some fairly controversial positions in public.This was part of just your sense of social conscience, I presume, about what needed to be done to the state, much like your concern for the Black Belt, is that correct?

 

Dr. Muse: It was.In fact, you might recall the first entry that I made into that public arena.It was shortly after I came.It was on the heels of the gay/lesbian controversy and the Old South parade.I called for greater tolerance, for more diversity, and for all of the groups to work together.It was a relatively, I felt, non-threatening kind of a piece.I was kind of startled by both the newspapersí reaction to it and the public reaction to it.It was almost as if the pronouncements I was making were just kind of a total revelation to the folks here.That no one had ever made those kinds of statements.What I discovered was, I guess, they hadnít.People were not courageous enough to even make very basic comments.Obvious exception to folks like yourself, but certainly people in a leadership position like I was, as the head of a large university in the state, making those kind of statements was a total novelty.But on that case as well a case of tax reform and other issues, I felt it was my obligation as a leader of the institution to express a point of view on matters that were of importance to the state.I continued to attempt to do that.I donít think the trustees ever appreciated any of those efforts.The only individuals who probably ever spoke to me about what I had written in those pieces were Emory Cunningham and John Denson, who were often complimentary.Well, let me correct that, Bessie Mae Holloway on issues that related certainly to race was always very supportive.

 

Dr. Flynt: Speaking of race, another question I had was the Kappa Alpha parade.Thatís part of a larger, both the federal suit that you spoke to in hiring Steve Jones which you already mentioned, but also your forceful leadership in trying to bring more black students, black faculty to Auburn.So could you comment on the KA parade and your emphasis upon diversity of the student body?

 

Dr. Muse: When I came here I found out that Ted Becker, in the Department of Psychology, I believe it is, was chairing a series of race relations forums.He and a young black female who was on the SGA at that time, named Liz Humphrey, orchestrated this and they invited me to come and participate in that.In fact, it may have even been prior to my actual starting date as president.There were a couple things that really struck me about those, because I came and sat in on a two to three hour session.It was mainly students talking about their experiences at Auburn and their impressions about it.But two things that stood out for me: one was the depth of feeling that students had and their willingness to express those views and it led me to conclude that there were some fairly significant race relations problems here that needed to be dealt with.But the other thing that struck me was that the students were honestly talking to each other.What I had discovered in Akron, and with a lot of race relations problems there, is that the students rarely ever talked to each other.They talked at each other.They stood back and hollered at each other and made accusations.They never really sat down at the table and had an honest, heart to heart kind of conversation that could lead to productive change.When I saw students here eager to understand each other and to exchange views and to even change their behavior if given some direction and guidance in doing so.When I arrived here, I didnít really know anything about the Old South parade.I arrived in March.The parade was scheduled, I think, in April.There was a lot of build up to it.It almost seemed to me as though this was something that the press really enjoyed.That they kind of relished the opportunity to come and see what was going on here, because it was great news coverage for both television and the newspapers.So I kind of dreaded what was going to occur and didnít really know what was going to occur, because Iíd never seen it before.On the day that the parade occurred, obviously the KAs got dressed up in their Confederate uniforms and their horses and began to parade down the street with the Confederate battle flag at full mast.I think they had a wagon they were pulling with southern belles in their dresses and so forth.There was just a huge crowd.I donít know how many thousands of students that lined both sides of College Street all the way from Samford up to Toomerís Corner.I was just overwhelmed by the spectacle of it and by the intensity.The parade came down College Street and along about where the Phi Gamma Delta House is.There was just a tremendous crowd of black students.I was told that there were a lot of black students who came over from Tuskegee as well as our black students here.There were a lot of racial taunts being hurled across College Street between black students and white students.Once the parade had passed that site and went on up around in front of Samford Hall or somewhere in that location, there were a whole group of black students.I remember this huge black male, I assume was a football player, but he was probably 6í4Ē or 6í5Ē, maybe 250 or 270 pounds, got a Confederate battle flag and set it a fire.The blacks had moved out in the street to block the street.I guess the parade used to go up to Toomerís Corner and turn around and come back down.Fortunately the police were alert and saw this occur and redirected the parade down Gay Street and therefore avoided a confrontation.This absolutely appalled me, how close we were to what could have been a huge physical confrontation, with many people being hurt and possibly even people being killed.What that would have done on top of an already tarnished reputation, what it would have done to the schoolís reputation, I donít know.So after that event I got Herb White, who was the director of university relations, and his staff to clip all of the newspaper coverage, the photographs and everything on the Old South parade and to put it up on a giant piece of poster board.I was just overwhelmed by the number of newspaper articles, the huge headlines of photographs and the just tremendous negative publicity that was provided.I then call the president of KA and I said I wanted him and the officers of his chapter to come to my office.I had that poster board and the young men came up there and had the poster board up in the boardroom there in the presidentís office.I told them I wanted to look at it.I wanted for them to look at what damage they were doing to their university.If they told me they loved Auburn, they certainly were not helping their university by this kind of publicity.We had to find a solution to this problem and there was not going to be an Old South parade next year.They could either make the decision to do away with it or I was going to do it, that we just simply could not tolerate this kind of event and what it could do to this universityís reputation.To their credit, the young men, and I was impressed with the way that they responded to this in the meeting, not knowing whether they were going to do anything about it, but they went back and apparently that Sunday night in a chapter meeting, which I understand went on until the wee hours of the night, Ďtil midnight or later, and voted as a chapter to do away with the Old South parade.They took a tremendous amount of criticism and heat from the alumni in doing so, but they stuck to their guns.I have always been grateful to them for having the courage to make that decision.I had taken time before I met with them and called their national office because I knew their executive director.I have been active in interfraternity circles over the years and met them at the national conventions and talked with him about this.The national office could not have been more supportive.They said, ďWeíll do anything we can to help you eliminate that.We have tried, and Auburn is one of the few chapters that still persist in having an Old South parade.Weíve eliminated it at most schools and you know you have our full cooperation to take whatever action you need to eliminate it.ĒSo I knew I had the support of their national organization in doing what I did.But it was really the young men in the chapter that made that decision.

 

Dr. Flynt: And youíve been very successful in bringing black students here.I believe the enrollment is 50 percent higher than it was when you came.

 

Dr. Muse: It is.It was, I think, 3.9 percent the year that I came and this year I think itís 6.6 or 6.8 percent.

 

Dr. Flynt: The other thing I would ask you about is your efforts to create a coalition of institutions of higher education on behalf of a lot of issues, but basically better funding and more support and that sort of thing.I donít know what role you played, whether it was the initiator of that effort or whether it was in conjunction with the Chancellor at the University of Alabama system.Could you tell me what was your role in that new coalition?

 

Dr. Muse: The interesting thing to me and probably to most people is that Auburn and the University of Alabama had been very cooperative and have worked almost hand in hand on this issue from the beginning.I donít know what happened prior to my arrival.I was told that Jim Martin would not really have anything to do with the University of Alabama.But within the first few months of my tenure here, I sat down and talked with Phil Austin, who at that time was the Chancellor for the University of Alabama system, and he and I had many conversations.But I think we developed a very healthy respect for each other and a very good working relationship.We had a number of conversations, not only between the two of us but with the other presidents of the universities in the state, in trying to forge a little better funding for higher education.After Phil left and went to Connecticut, I was able to forge somewhat the same kind of relationship with Tom Meredith, when he came down.Fortunately I knew Tom before he came to Alabama, had known him for a number of years, and so it was a kind of immediate partnership between the two of us.But the thing that we, and this was really a result of the James administration and their efforts, not only efforts but their success, in moving about $600 million away from higher education to K-12, during that four year period.This led us to form the Higher Education Partnership, which could not have happened without the leadership and support of the two major universities.I think that the smaller schools were very supportive of doing that.They saw this as a way that they could get some bargaining strength that they did not have otherwise.We, at that time, still looked at the huge amount of power and influence that Paul Hubbert at AEA had and largely because of the political contributions that they can make to individual candidates and the other services they provide.While the Higher Education Partnership does not have that kind of money, it has I think become an effective spokesman for higher education and has achieved some degree of balance in that relationship.

 

Dr. Flynt: Last question I had was one that basically goes back to your inaugural on May 29, 1992.In your speech you called for enhanced funding, emphasis on excellent, sound management, institutional relationships, by which you defined that as close relations with other colleges and universities in the state.You also called for greater diversity within the student body and faculty, openness of ideas, wider visibility and emphasis on people, expanded delivery systems, and humanizing the process.It was my judgement that you obviously made phenomenal progress in all of these, but are you disappointed in one of them, do you feel like there is some area where you really wish you could have done more than you did?

 

Dr. Muse: Well, the one area that Iím probably most disappointed about, not disappointed in my efforts but disappointed in the results, is the funding for Auburn and for higher education in general.This has been one of the most, if not the most, frustrating problems Iíve ever had to deal with.The state of Alabama is in almost an intractable situation in that it has approved and established, in my opinion, more institutions of higher education than the state can afford and that the state needs in order to serve the needs of its population effectively.For example, the state of North Carolina and the state of Alabama have approximately the same number of public 4-year institutions.North Carolina is at least twice the size of Alabama.You could make similar comparisons with most any other state.Alabamaís efforts are spread too thin.As we all well know the tax rates are among the lowest in the nation, so we produce limited revenue and the state simply does not have adequate resources to fund higher education and K-12.I donít see any solution to that problem that is easy.The tax structure needs to be changed and changed significantly.This state needs to substantially increase property taxes and devote that money to funding K-12, which is the case in most states.Then K-12 would not have to make such a huge drain on the state treasury to meet its obligations.Some consolidation within higher education would probably be helpful.I donít see that as being easy, but every effort that I made to try to bring about improved funding for Auburn just seemed to bear very little fruit.

 

Dr. Flynt: Then, conversely and last, what are your thoughts?

 

Dr. Muse: Well, there are a lot of things that I am proud of.I would cite, first of all, the improved relationships between the administration and the faculty.When I came to Auburn, I was totally unprepared for the depths of alienation, disappointment, and distrust that existed on the faculty.I can remember very vividly the first faculty meeting that I attended.I think that I came down here and went to that meeting before I actually started the job.It was over in Broun Hall auditorium and the full auditorium was open and I think every seat was filled and there were people standing up all around the auditorium.There were TV cameras there.I gave fairly innocuous opening comments and then for approximately two hours fielded questions from the audience.When it finally ended I think there were still hands up with people wanting to ask questions.The nature of the questions clearly communicated the anger and frustration that the faculty felt.As Iíve said on other occasions, I left there asking myself, ďWhat have I gotten myself into here?Is there any way I can persuade Akron to take me back?ĒBut in retrospect I think it was probably the best introduction because the faculty went away from the meeting with a feeling that maybe hereís a guy who will listen to what we have to say.Maybe hereís a guy who really does understand what weíre trying to accomplish as an institution, and maybe hereís a person who will do something about it.I think from that moment I began to forge a relationship that led to a significant amount of trust.That allowed us to change the faculty handbook and do a lot of other things that got us off the AAUP censor list.But, even more importantly, it allowed us to build a day to day working relationship where I could sit down with the chair of the university senate or the officers of the university senate and we could have an open discussion.Where there was not the suspicion on either of the two sides; that we were coming to the table with willingness on both parts to try to find a solution and support it.There were many issues on which the faculty probably disagreed with the decision I made or what I was trying to do, but I never failed to be willing to come to the senate and face my critics or explain what I was trying to do or answer questions.I think over time that built the relationship that I think a university needs to have to make real progress.I believe we did make real progress here.The things that haunt me, I guess, about Auburn are how good the university could be if it had decent funding that would allow programs to be supported at a level that they would be competitive with the best programs nationally.If it had a Board of Trustees that really embraced the university, itís mission, was truly supportive but would allow the administration to manage the institution without intruding into day to day affairs, how great this university could really be.I got glimpses of that every now and then, but those were not sustained glimpses.There always seemed to be something down the road that would slow down the process and make it more difficult.

 

Dr. Flynt: Is there anything I didnít ask you that you feel that youíd like to get on the record?

 

Dr. Muse: Wayne, I canít think of anything else at this juncture.But weíve talked about a wide range of matters.Could I suggest that when you have a chance maybe you would review the transcript and maybe let me do so as well?And then there may be other issues that both of us would identify that need to be talked about.Because weíve kind of jumped around here and not gone chronologically, there may be some major pieces that are missing.

 

Dr. Flynt: Let me get the transcript for you then and you look over that.Then we can have a follow up and cover things that you think we need to talk about.

 

Dr. Muse: Ok.

 

Dr. Flynt: Good.I really appreciate your doing that.