HUNTSVILLE — Alabama A&M University was 100 years old by the time it was granted authorization to form its own Board of Trustees in 1975, in effect giving the institution its own voice.
Prior to that landmark year, Dr. Richard D. Morrison, AAMU’s fifth president, had been able to meet with the state’s education power brokers only twice in a span of 22 years.
Now, just a few years shy of its 150th anniversary, AAMU boasts an alumna who serves as chair of the 12-member Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
Thirty years following the formation of AAMU’s Board of Trustees, a young and ambitious Miranda Bouldin-Frost would not only earn her degree in logistics at AAMU, but she would ultimately emerge as the founder and CEO of LogiCore, a Huntsville-based logistics and engineering firm.
“I am looking forward to continuing relationship building with the institutions throughout the state,” said Bouldin-Frost. “As the coordinating board for Alabama’s public two- and four-year schools, it is important to have open dialogue about issues facing higher education and the tools that are needed to ensure student success.
“I think my past experience in working with volunteer boards in various leadership capacities will be an asset.”
Bouldin-Frost admitted she has always been “education and community-minded.” She said her knack for combining and utilizing her own degrees and interest in the value of education help provide “an unbiased view of academic programs sponsored by institutions.”
Bouldin-Frost also said, as a business owner, she understands the importance of the relationship between education and the business community.
Indeed, Bouldin-Frost has been a commissioner on the board, representing the Fifth Congressional District, since her appointment by former Gov. Robert Bentley in 2015. Dr. James E. “Jim” Purcell is the executive director and, for the last five years, has been responsible for carrying out the organization’s day-to-day operations and strategic plan.
“I served on the board committee that hired Dr. Purcell in 2017,” Bouldin-Frost said. “He has brought 30 years of higher education expertise from other states to Alabama. He has been forthright in keeping the board apprised of important issues, and several of the initiatives that he has used previously have been successfully implemented at ACHE.”
One of the key initiatives slated for championing by the ACHE board will be the “All in Alabama” campaign that will entice the state’s college graduates to launch and maintain their careers in Alabama.
Bouldin-Frost’s own life provides the perfect script for the endeavor. Also an Alabama native, she attended public schools in the state before pursuing an undergraduate degree at Alabama A&M. She then anchored her career in the Huntsville area, where she has become a corporate fixture and has successfully reached back to help several young men and women.
“The All in Alabama campaign is a must for Alabama’s continued economic growth,” said Bouldin-Frost. “As a business owner, I can say first-hand that finding qualified employees is a top priority for both small and large businesses.”
Bouldin-Frost said she was excited about the opportunities that will benefit students and employers through the initiative.
“The campaign will truly be all inclusive,” Bouldin-Frost said. “It is inclusive for students entering the workforce; past graduates who have left the state and are encouraged to return; and those who started but stopped their higher education pursuit.
“It will be a boost for job seekers and employers, as well as the state as a whole. I look forward to promoting the campaign throughout the state.”
A previous ACHE initiative that Boudin-Frost said she is proud to have played a role in facilitating is the Alabama Math and Science Teacher Education Program (AMSTEP). This is a loan repayment program for K-12 math, science or computer science teachers.
“There is a particular emphasis on underserved areas to ensure that students have access to quality classroom instruction,” she said. “We have seen consistent increases in student aid funding for five years.
“Also, the Alabama Student Assistance Program (ASAP) is administered through ACHE, and we lobby each year to increase student funding in ACHE’s budget.”
Although she is confident Alabama has a top-notch higher education system that prepares its students for the workforce, Bouldin-Frost also expects the issue of affordability to emerge center stage during her tenure.
“We are all aware that an education comes with a price tag, and it is a pretty hefty one in Alabama,” she said. “Tuition increases are taxing Alabama families, and we have seen tuition rise alongside two straight years of record funding from the Education Trust Fund.”
Nonetheless, ACHE’s All in Alabama Initiative will remain focused on overall industry needs and aligning those opportunities with students seeking employment, she said.
“The campaign will involve institutional participation from career centers that are working with students seeking internships and full-time careers.”