FAMU Faculty Concerned About Salaries and Raises
[subtitle]One Faculty Member Took Concerns to Trustees in a Scathing Letter[/subtitle]
By Christal Searcy
Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum has lately been criticized for having poor communication with the institution’s trustee board. But trustees are not the only individuals at the university concerned about Mangum’s performance.
The university’s faculty members, represented by United Faculty of Florida (UFF) at FAMU, are also concerned about Mangum’s effectiveness to lead faculty during a time when salaries are some of the lowest in the State University System. Plus, one disgruntled faculty member has written a scathing, anonymous, five-page letter to trustees to voice concern.
But that concern is not foreign to UFF-FAMU President Elizabeth Davenport. Davenport has seen the letter and she has been at the forefront during negotiations.
“We are higher education professionals living in Tallahassee, but our salaries aren’t comparable to our colleagues who teach just a few blocks away at Florida State University,” said Davenport in a news release. “Educators at FAMU and FSU both are a part of the State University System, but our salaries at FAMU are a disappointment compared to those at FSU. Yet we live, work and pay bills in the very same city.” FAMU’s faculty union and the university came to an impasse in contract negotiations last November after requesting a 3 percent salary increase that was rejected. After waiting for months for the FAMU administration’s salary proposal a magistrate was brought in to mediate last April, UFF bargainers were offered a 1 percent pay raise to the base of faculty salaries and a 1 percent bonus. Other faculty members, however, had better luck in getting salary increases.
FAMU administration successfully lobbied the Florida Legislature for funds to provide the Pharmacy and Engineering faculty salary increases of up to 20 percent. While UFF-FAMU supports the concept of providing this talented and dedicated faculty with raises, the administration’s proposal for the remainder of the faculty was not so much an offer as it was an insult to those who haven’t seen a university-provided raise in several years. And that insult is being felt throughout the campus by at least one disgruntled employee.
A disgruntled employee emailed an anonymous letter to Davenport and the trustee board and others throughout the campus. It isn’t dated and it’s only signed “Member of the FAMU Faculty.” But details in the letter are critical of Mangum, her hiring choices and trustees’ choice to select the president who has been at the university’s helm for more than a year.
“The level of contempt shown by the current administration toward the faculty is disheartening,” the letter says. “I can’t hold my tongue any longer. We are witnessing incompetence of the highest order. There should be a call for a Vote of No Confidence immediately.”
Since the letter is not dated, there are no details regarding Mangum’s most recent accolades. HBCU Digest recently named her “Female President of the Year.” Plus, she made an appearance before the House Agriculture Committee in Washington D.C. where it was announced that FAMU is “Poised to be a global leader in agricultural research and innovation.”
But none of those highlights were included. Instead, the letter details what the writer considers to be Mangum’s leadership mishaps from the loss of the budget authority for the College of Engineering to what the writer called her “lack of interest” in attending the National Alumni Association Convention from May 14-17 in Houston, Texas.
The letter says, “Mangum clearly feels she doesn’t have to communicate with the faculty, staff, alumni or the Board of Trustees … She doesn’t know how to deal with faculty and has no idea what to do.”
The letter is also critical of Mangum’s hiring of top administrators for six-figure salaries and executive assistants for close to six-figures.
“Many faculty members went to school for a decade, and we would love to earn $70, 000,” the letter says. “But, hey, what would we do with a raise – pay our student loans?”
Mangum’s Vice President for Communications and External Affairs Media Relations representatives at FAMU were asked if they would like to comment on the letter. Their response was a two page letter titled the “Update on University Faculty Relations.”
Genyne Boston has been appointed as Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development, says the media relations response letter.
Boston will provide leadership in all aspects of faculty development and support, ensuring academic and research excellence, as well as innovation in facilitating a learning environment of intellectual vibrancy, personal and social responsibility, success, and significance, according to the media relation response letter.
Meanwhile, Mangum was scheduled to meet with trustees for the board meeting after Capital Outlook press time. The board is expected to discuss her performance evaluation as well. According to copies of preliminary evaluations posted by the university online, five of 12 trustees said the first-year president was not meeting expectations in more than five of the 10 categories in which she was graded.
Overall, a majority of the trustees said Mangum’s performance didn’t meet expectations in four of the 10 categories being reviewed.