Dr. Watts speaks at SOM town hall meeting at UAB - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

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Dr. Watts speaks at SOM town hall meeting at UAB

Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

UAB President Dr. Ray Watts held a town hall meeting Wednesday morning with the School of Medicine faculty and staff.

The town hall meeting was closed to the public and the media was kicked out right before it started. However, President Ray Watts did agree to answer a few questions when it was over.

"In short, what I shared with them was each unit within the university had a strategic plan," Dr. Watts said. "The actual financial issues in college sports now are really changing the landscape the cost of maintaining various Division I programs."

Dr. Watts stands by his decision to cut the football, rifle, and bowling teams, citing financial issues.

He took his message to the School of Medicine, saying he wanted to dialogue with a smaller group rather than a large meeting with all of the faculty at one time.

"We really felt like in the immediate short term that we need to get our internal UAB community on the same page because there's been a lot of misinformation, misconstruing of information, so I tried to do that but of course we're going to reach out to the public and we'll have more interviews and discussions very soon,” Dr. Watts said.

One woman left the meeting satisfied with answers she heard.

“I came looking for a reason to leave with an appreciation of what his decisions are, what the University goals are. That's why I say I am leaving appreciating because he explained to us and it makes sense to me,” Norma Stewart said.

But those not allowed inside the closed door meeting still have questions.

"We're kind of like the football and rifle and bowling and cheer and band, we're all out in the cold and that's the problem that exists, there's secrecy veiled over the UA System," State Representative Jack Williams said.

Williams is hoping this issue will spur change. But others, like Norma Stewart, are hoping to put this issue behind them and move forward.

"Like he said, we're going to move forward. What went on in the past is the past. All we can do is work forward and if there was anything anyone felt was wrong, at least we can work to move forward,” Stewart said.

Williams is introducing three bills in the upcoming Alabama Legislature. They would expand the UA System Board of Trustees and require training for new members. Another one would bring back UAB football.

The UAB faculty senate will meet next Thursday to vote on two proposed resolutions. One would support UAB athletics. The other would be a vote of no confidence in President Ray Watts.

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