A Reply to Chancellor Criser on the COE leadership


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By Willie Roberts

Retired FAMU Math Professor


In a letter to the editor, Chancellor Marshall Criser III said in response to my letter to the editor that the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is intended to  have “joint and collaborative decision making regarding the leadership…which has been reinforced by decisions made by President Mangum and President Thrasher.”    It is those decisions made by Mangum and Thrasher that are raising questions about FAMU’s role in the COE.  Thrasher apparently had the endorsement of his BOT in making the decisions and Mangum did not have the endorsement of her BOT and that has led to much turmoil at FAMU. If, as Criser implies, the agreement between Thrasher and Mangum is inconsequential, why make the changes?


The changes are especially noteworthy since Mangum was hired by FAMU as a “financial expert.;” and since she is an expert, it would seem that FAMU would be  ideally suited to be the fiscal agent. However, Mangum clearly doesn’t think FAMU should be the fiscal agent; and so she should explain to the Rattler Nation why she doesn‘t think so.    Also, since the BOG  holds the BOT responsible for all operations at FAMU,  Criser and the BOG should have expected  Mangum to get the BOT’s support for her agreement with Thrasher, since FAMU and FSU have had a rocky relation in the COE over the years and he has said they must work together.  The BOT needs to get clarity of its role in its turbulent relation with Mangum over this matter.


Mangum is now the agent for hiring the COE dean; but in order to hire anyone, Thrasher must agree or Criser,  as  tie breaker,  must decide.  I understand that the cards are stacked against FAMU in the COE Governance Council, but the Rattler Nation should understand what is happening.  Eventually, FSU will take over  the COE which Thrasher tried to do as a senator.


Now the stacked Joint Governance Council and Mangum’s ability to make  unilateral  agreements with Thrasher can give Thrasher what he tried to achieve as a senator in a surreptitious manner.  Dr. Mangum has not been a strong voice for FAMU in the  COE.  She has even fought against the FAMU BOT having input in her agreement with Thrasher. In exchange for agreeing to these changes, she could have at least asked for money to recruit high achieving minority students to the COE.


The Chancellor sees a distinction between fiscal agent and control of the budget, but Thrasher apparently sees them as one and the same.  Let’s call this change what it clearly is: A win for FSU and Mangum and a loss for FAMU.