Alderson-Broaddus College and the West Virginia Baptist Convention have taken the first steps to separate the church from the college's governance.
Exactly what legal and fiduciary relationship the college and the Baptist Convention will have going forward probably won't be determined until next spring, a college official said Oct. 26.
Tanya Shelton, vice president for enrollment management at Alderson-Broaddus, said the separation process began in February when the college's Board of Trustees had a retreat with a consultant from the Association of Governing Boards.
The consultant had reviewed the A-B's board – its role, its composition, its best practices, Shelton said.
At present, Alderson-Broaddus is governed by a 36-member board of trustees. Of those, 18 are appointed by the West Virginia Baptist Convention. The executive director of the convention sits on the board as a 19th voting member. There is also a non-voting group called governors who provide input into the college's governance, so at any time there can be 50 or more people acting as trustees, Shelton said.
The Alderson-Broaddus charter and bylaws require that the school president be an ordained Baptist pastor, but "that hasn't been in practice for a number of years now," Shelton said.
Shelton said Alderson-Broaddus' budget is tuition-driven. Churches provide some unrestricted financial support, and individual donors have been supportive, she said.
"It's relatively small compared to our budget of over $20 million," she said.
A statement on the Alderson-Broaddus website says a task force chaired by A-B alumna and trustee Jean Denny Cunningham met throughout the summer. In October, A-B College board took the first step toward implementing the AGB recommendations by unanimously approving a resolution to pursue the dissolution of the legal relationship between A-B College and the West Virginia Baptist Convention, pending concurrence of the convention, according to the statement.
That was "to specifically include fiduciary responsibility, board composition, and other legally binding obligations or oversight. The resolution also affirmed an ongoing relationship with the convention on a level of personal, social, and religious affiliation, as well as with American Baptist Churches, USA," the statement says.
On Oct. 19, meeting in Huntington, the West Virginia Baptist Convention approved the resolution, according to the statement.
A-B President Rick Creehan and Chairman Ron Burbick anticipate that the A-B College task force should finish its work with a final proposed charter and by-laws revision to be voted upon at the spring 2013 board meeting, according to the statement.
Whatever happens with the board and the state Baptist Convention, little should change at the instructional level, Shelton said.
"At this time, we don't anticipate it's going to change anything with our student experience," Shelton said.