Mangum’s turbulent tenure as FAMU’s president comes to an end
By St. Clair Murraine Outlook staff writer
A presidency that became tumultuous shortly after it began a little more than two years ago came to an end as Elmira Mangum was removed as president of Florida A&M University during a highly emotional Board of Trustees meeting.
Mangum agreed to step down immediately after a 10-1 vote of approval on a separation agreement approved by a special committee on the night before this past Thursday’s meeting.
A teary-eyed Mangum walked from the FAMU Grand Ballroom through a crowd of supporters who had made their displeasure with the BOT known throughout the meeting.
The board immediately approved Larry Robinson as interim president, putting him in the position for a third time.
Mangum’s ouster had been coming for several months. About six months after a failed attempt by the BOT to terminate her a year ago, Mangum was back facing the same fate in recent months. She and the board began to show signs they would definitely part ways at a meeting last month when Mangum suggested the board begin negotiations with her attorney.
“The reason why we are at this point today is out of leadership from this Board of Trustees to ensure that this great university will have a solid way forward,” said trustee Thomas Dortch, who headed up the special committee. “This Board of Trustees decided that we could not wait under (any) circumstances since the current contract ends March 31.”
The exit agreement allows Mangum to continue receiving her $425,000 salary through the end of her contract. She also will be eligible for a one-year sabbatical, with an option to return to FAMU as a tenured professor. Mangum, who has a month to vacate the president’s residence, also will be compensated for moving expenses and attorneys’ fees.
Mangum has been at odds with the BOT over several issues, including her hiring practices and bonuses to employees.
At about the same time, at least three members of the board resigned because of Mangum’s apparent unwillingness to respond to concerns over how she did her job. But even with new faces on the board, the wrangling didn’t stop.
After the terms of her agreement were spelled out, Mangum told the board, “I believe it is clear because there is no way forward.”
She also had parting words for the board.
“I would just suggest that going forward, the board tries to place honor and integrity; not all of this negotiation,” said Mangum, who was the first woman to serve as president at FAMU. “It was an honor to serve.”
Mangum told a group of her supporters on her walk from the Ballroom that she doesn’t have any aspiration to be president of another university. Through her short term, the board repeatedly questioned her management style and what she has done to move the university forward.
However, she left saying that she has accomplished plenty. Some of that was outlined in her final report, which the board allowed to be submitted.
“I feel good about what I’ve done at Florida A&M,” Mangum said. “The university is in a better position than it was when I came. I think the students are certainly more focused on completion and overall the institution nationally is in a better place.”
Robinson served his first tenure as interim president in 2007. When James Ammons resigned five years later, Robinson again filled in until Mangum was hired in March 2014.