FAMU Officials Take Perspectives On Future to Editorial Pages

In what many consider to be dueling glimpses in to the future of Florida A&M University, the head of the institution and the leader of the school’s alumni association each published editorials in two different Florida newspapers yesterday to make the case for how to move FAMU ahead in coming months.

FAMU President Elmira Mangum laid out the university’s achievements in grants, recruitment and alumni giving in an op-ed published by the Tampa Bay Times, suggesting that a school which has experienced six interim or permanent presidential appointments in the last 15 years has arrived at a point of stability.

When I came to Florida, I established a vision of making FAMU a best-in-class, land-grant, doctoral research university with a global presence. We are well on our way to delivering on that promise. This past academic year, we awarded nearly 600 free passports to students, opening the doors to international travel — and thus their minds to the world beyond their doorstep. In Florida, our pharmacy program has been awarded more research grants from the National Institutes of Health than any other state program; and as it pertains to educating African Americans — that Essence/Money magazine poll mentioned earlier ranked FAMU behind only Princeton, Harvard, Duke and Cornell.

FAMU is moving forward. And while we have a lot of work to do yet, the climate is right, and the future is bright.

In the Tallahassee Democrat, FAMU National Alumni Association President Lt. Col. Gregory L. Clark called for the permanent installation of Kelvin Lawson as chair of the university Board of Trustees.

Lawson has demonstrated an ability to lead in the face of significant adversity, including matters related to the president’s office. I believe, if it is possible, that he will be the chair who can finally achieve some progress regarding the president’s evaluation, which has made his board tenure a constant challenge…

He is a skilled and articulate communicator, and it is time that we have a Board Chair who understands the duties that are attached to the role and behaves in a way that is consistent with that role and its serious responsibilities. He is not going to resign when things get tough, and he has personally assured me that he has the energy to see the potential term as chair all the way through.

Lawson, a FAMU alumnus who has serve in the interim capacity since the resignation of former chairman Rufus Montgomery, has been among Dr. Mangum’s most vocal critics over the last year. In October, Lawson made the first motion calling for Dr. Mangum’s termination, for cause.

That motion, and a second motion made for dismissal without cause, were both narrowly defeated.

The FAMU BOT will hold its next scheduled meeting on June 10 in Tallahassee.

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