FAMU Board Efforts to Fire Mangum Fail in Two Separate Votes
  

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By: Jarrett Carter Sr. – @jlcarter_sr

Trustees at Florida A&M University today moved in two separate votes to fire Elmira Mangum as school president, but both motions were defeated by a total of one vote.

Following lengthy delays for document review and discussion from board members, a motion made by BOT Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson to fire Dr. Mangum with cause failed by a 7-5 margin. A second vote, made by Trustee Robert Woody, failed by a 6-6 deadlocked vote. 

The votes follow board allegations made this week that Dr. Mangum authorized capital improvements to the campus presidential residence without proper board approval, and bonus payments to newly-hired administrators with some money coming out of public funds. Those allegations followed the board’s denial of a performance-based raise for Mangum earlier this week. 

Named president in January 2014, a former vice-president for budget and planning at Cornell University, called the board’s inquiry and attempts at termination a ‘witchhunt.’

“It speaks to the lack of controls, lack of procedures in place at the university for years prior to my arrival,” Dr. Mangum told trustees during the conference call emergency meeting. “We have a lot to do in terms of competency. We also have concerns about understanding what accounts terms mean, and what actions are actually legitimate. This has been kind of a mockery in terms of what takes place when you take an operations review and look at operations at what actually happens. It appears that this is something designed to destroy, rather than rebuild.”

“Trustees decided not to follow their procedures, and now its sitting at my feet like its my responsibility.”

Dr. Mangum, who in a memo released last night countered many of the allegations made by the FAMU board, said that there have been no audit findings from state review systems, and that the claims were part of a continuing campaign to discredit her administration and her credibility.

“Ultimately, I think that much of this is defamatory. No audit findings, nothing official. This is continuing mudslinging, trying to find something. I’ve been required to do things that other presidents don’t do. We have this constant consternation, but we get up everyday and continue to come in to make this a best in class institution. We have to continue to have these conversations around things that are part of daily conversations. I’ve raised the level of notoriety, the inquiries and feedback I receive from social media are praising the work we’re doing to raise this institution to a place of honor. In my entire 30 years of service, I’ve never been accused of breaching responsibility or anything close to an impeachable action. A false narrative has been created to the campus and to the community.”

The board voted unanimously to oversee an independent investigation of the physical plant improvements, to be managed by the board’s audit committee.

Dr. Mangum and the board have publicly squared off in ongoing tension about communication, administrative hiring, and interface with Florida State University over the leadership structure of the two schools’ joint college of engineering. 

 

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