Less than a year ago, Florida A&M University was boxed out of performance-based funding after posting third-to-last on several of the state’s metrics for institutional success. Nine months later, the state legislature threw more zeroes at its flagship historically black college, while its predominantly white neighbor came up aces in new capital funding.
Florida State University scored some victories in the state budget forwarded to Gov. Scott, despite legislators’ attention shifting to school safety following the shooting deaths in Parkland and anticipated expenses from hurricane recovery.
Florida A&M University, in the meantime, came up empty in its quest for continued funding for its big-ticket item – the Center for Access and Student Success, which is under construction.
That student success building, resources for new hiring and equipment int the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, improvements to the university’s central plant and agricultural extension programming – all got nothing in this new funding bill while Florida State received $32 million in new money for construction.
Money woes at FAMU, whether tied to legislative cuts or institutional performance struggles, are not new at the institution. But what is critical to remember is that in the same winter of performance-based based bad news, Florida State University President John Thrasher and Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh were praising Florida A&M University then-Interim President Larry Robinson.
And now their schools are okay while FAMU is left with a paltry set of appropriations and zero-sum gain for some of its critical capital funding requests in an $88.7 billion budget. To many, it seemed that system presidents endorsing FAMU’s would-be presidential candidate were a sign of good vibes statewide; that Dr. Robinson would finally lead the school for which he served as a three-time interim to a new level of performance and partnership with the state’s higher ed objectives.
And now, the state shows its commitment to marginalizing FAMU in the ways it always has.
Thrasher and Murdaugh chimed in with their endorsement of Dr. Robinson to lead FAMU, but will they chime in against the state’s divestment in the school and its sabotage of Dr. Robinson’s administration? Will the Board of Governors reverse course on performance-based funding metrics in the way it did to usher Dr. Robinson into the presidency?
It begs the question; why would the entire State System of Florida work so hard in word and deed to get Dr. Robinson into power, only to swiftly set him up for failure?