Since Garry Neal Drummond, the owner of a multinational coal mining company and one of the most powerful industrialists in Alabama, is a trustee emeritus and an historic mover and shaker at UA, I asked Vice-Chancellor Reinhart if Garry Drummond had urged the board of trustees to make that Shepherd Bend property available for mining. Ms. Reinhart immediately said that I should consider the fact that Mr. Drummond has not sat on the board since 2001. That was by no means an answer to the question, but the very implication that Drummond is not part of the story because of his status with the board of trustees did lead to a key point in how the board operates (more on that later). In the meantime, I asked Reinhart why no trustee was willing to say how they would vote should the opportunity to sell the Shepherd Bend land to a coal mining interest. Reinhart says that "Typically the board does not pro-actively go out and take a position on business that is not currently before the board, or if it is not relevant to a decision they have made."
Who are the most powerful trustees? In the narrow context of selling or leasing land for surface mining, at the top of the list might be Paul Bryant Jr., after which in no particular order are Angus Cooper, Finis St. John, Judge John England, and Joe Espy. These particular trustees form the board's Executive Committee, chaired by Bryant. This committee enjoys an interesting distinction, per Article IV, Section 1 of the bylaws of the UA Board of Trustees: Without further approval of the Board, the Executive Committee shall have the authority to lease, sell and convey real property of the Board, or any interest therein.