Maples addresses diversity on campus

Marcus Maples is the only African-American on UNA’s board of trustees. “Diversity issues play a particular role in what I’m involved in and interested in,” Maples said.

By Associate Life Editor Monday Sanderson

Marcus Maples is the only person of color on UNA’s board of trustees after replacing John Bunyan Cole, the previous person of color.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Maples in June 2014 after Cole’s death.

“I’m very proud to be an African-American member on the board of trustees,” he said. “So, of course, diversity issues play a particular role in what I’m involved in and interested in.

“I’m also one of few trustees that are alumni of the university. It’s important to me to reach out to other alumni and make sure their needs are addressed. I also want to make sure they are connected back to this great institution.”

Maples said he began school at UNA in 1998 and graduated in 2002.

He said he works on the finance committee and the diversity and alumni on campus.

Maples began working with the alumni board of directors once he graduated, said Carol Lyles director of the office of alumni relations.

“He was working his way up the ranks to be president and he was vice president when he was appointed on the board of trustees,” she said. “He is very involved in supporting alumni. He has hosted our alumni in his corporate office a few times for a private luncheon.”

Maples’ experience as an attorney and a former president of the Student Government Association assists his position on the board, said SGA President Nick Lang.

“As an attorney, I think he provides the board of trustees with a legal perspective on any potential decisions that the board of trustees may carry out,” Lang said in an email. “As (SGA) President in the past at UNA, (he has) some insight on the past decisions of the board of trustees.”

Maples said diversity is important for the board.

“(It) is crucial on the board of trustees because we’re not only talking about racial diversity, but also diversity of thought,” he said. “I think I bring a particular skill set to the board because of my background as an African-American, and that helps the board make better decisions.”

Maples said while he is a member on the board, he is an attorney first.

His grandfather is the reason he became an attorney, he said.

“My grandfather told me when I was 5 years old that I was going to make a lawyer,” he said. “His goal of me making a lawyer was his dream and passion.”

Maples said he made his grandfather’s dream come true when he graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2006.

He said he embodies certain traits that help him in his career an attorney.

“I’m a good problem-solver,” he said. “That is essentially what a lawyer does. They solve problems for their clients.

He said he is also compassionate.

“You have to be that for your clients,” he said. “I take on every issue that they have. I want to make sure they are doing well and that they are successful.”

Lang said Maples is energetic and friendly.

“He is very easy to talk to, and I believe that he can easily relate to college students,” Lang said.

Maples said he balances his responsibilities as a husband, father of three and member of the board.

When the workday is over, Maples goes home to his wife, Kyowa, and three daughters: 3-year-old twins Eden and Vivienne and 16-month-old Mya.

“I always said that although I’m passionate about practicing law, my main job in life is taking care of my children,” he said. “I try not to miss any of their events if I can help it. My children will be my legacy.”