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Alabama committee sets deadline for Univ. of Mobile debt plan

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–The executive committee of Alabama Baptists’ state board of missions has set a July 15 deadline for University of Mobile trustees to provide a plan for recovering all state convention funds used in starting its Nicaragua campus in 1993, a total approaching $3.3 million.
The board’s deadline to the university was set in a June 3 meeting in Montgomery.
In 1994, messengers to the annual Alabama Baptist state convention affirmed an agreement limiting financial support of the university’s Latin American Branch Campus in Nicaragua to gifts specifically generated for that campus and funds generated from that campus. Another part of the agreement required trustees to return to the Mobile campus about $2.3 million used up to that time to initiate the LABC.
Trustee chairman Robert Maxwell told the Alabama board executive committee May 15 the university had broken that commitment. Two days earlier, university trustees, meeting behind closed doors, had ousted Michael Magnoli after a 16-year tenure as president of the 2,700-student Baptist-affiliated university. Magnoli had been a member of its first graduating class in 1967.
The university’s interim president, Walter Hovell, told the executive committee June 3 that to present a debt reduction plan he would need freedom to cut personnel and expenses as he saw fit, without regard to “politics,” according to a report in the Mobile Register.
“I am not going to sacrifice my integrity, and if I’m going to be told who is off-limits, I will resign,” said Hovell, who indicated he has been under pressure from Baptists statewide not to cut certain programs or individuals, according to the newspaper.
“Give me the freedom to do what I know has to be done. We will not balance the budget with the status quo.”
If the budget cannot be balanced, Maxwell said, the branch campus may have to be sacrificed to maintain the main campus’ financial well-being.
“I did not mean to imply that come rising waters or the advent of Hades that we would hang on to that campus. We cannot hold onto it, unless there’s some other way of funding it,” Maxwell said.
The convention gives the university more than $2 million of its $32 million Cooperative Program budget.