Trustees Hope to Push Reset Button For Success at FAMU
By Andrew J. Mitchell, Jr.
Florida A&M University is going through a period of change in its 127th year. FAMU’s board of trustees and President Elmira Mangum held a two-day meeting to decide how they will communicate for the future.
With the Sunshine Law saying all official acts are required to be made in open meetings, FAMU trustees outlined key ideas on how to strengthen communication practices with the president.
FAMU is one of the leading historically black universities and receives countless recognition for its successes but also for its failures.
The university is facing many challenges as it goes forward.
Established communication between the trustees and the president will mark one of the true tests of how exactly the university will excel.
FAMU’s National Association of Alumni President, Tommy Mitchell, Sr. said the real victim will be FAMU if communication issues continue to plague the administration.
“Certainly, we need the board and the president to work together so they can enhance the development and all the potential that FAMU has,” Mitchell said. “So FAMU can get support from the legislature and all external entities.”
The two-day meeting brought to light concerns for members of the board, faculty and alumni about the future of FAMU.
Mangum said the meeting gave the board, her and the university the opportunity to achieve transparency.
“I think the format here was a good one for us in terms of reporting out,” Mangum said. “I think we have a few kinks to work out in terms of scheduling and committee structures. But, by and large, it was a good opportunity and a good way to proceed.”
Mangum received backlash from trustees about communication issues.
BOT member Kimberly Moore is set to complete a president evaluation of Mangum next month. However, Vice Chair Kelvin Lawson motioned an action to reprimand Mangum on the second day of the board meeting.
The reprimand came in response to what members believed was Mangum’s failure to communicate and collaborate with the board.
BOT member and Student Government President Tonnette Graham suggested an amended motion to allow Mangum to respond in 30 days with the trustee’s concerns. Graham’s motion was met with unanimous backing.
The trustees’ reason for backing Graham’s action overwhelmingly came from questions of why the president needed to be reprimanded when there is already an evaluation process in place. The reprimand could be seen as only a punishment, not a solution.
The theme that captured the atmosphere in the room after all was said and done “is pushing the reset button.”
Board chair Rufus Montgomery believes the forum was not the best place to discuss issues but now the university can reset and go forward.
“The meeting was an opportunity for the board to openly and effectively communicate with the CEO,” Montgomery said. “I think it was a consensus that it was an opportunity for us all to take a pause and hit the reset button and come away from that in a positive way.”
The board will now await Moore’s evaluation and deliberate on how to transition after June’s passionate meeting.