We talk with FAMU graduates James Bland and Angela “Myammee” Pitts about the culture and obligation of HBCU advocates in HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Bland and Pitts are advocates working on behalf of “Doing It,” an HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaign developed in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control.[Read more…] about Digest After Dark – Know Your Status…Or Revenge Celibacy
florida a&m university
The NCAA today announced new rules which will make it easier for athletes good enough to make it to the NBA to return to school if those dreams fall short.
Cori Bostic will lead the Florida A&M University Marching 100 Marching Band this fall as drum major, the first woman in school history named to the esteemed post.
When executive leadership turns over at an institution of higher education, context matters. In some instances, executives who’ve served long tenures retire with preparations made and accreditation, financial solvency, and steady enrollment all neatly packaged to deliver to the next CEO. When that next executive emerges, the product of a dutiful national search involving boards, alumni, and key stakeholders, institutions continue to enjoy the responsible and predictable growth that serves the educational and employment needs of students, faculty, staff, and the economic needs of the region.
Two years ago, Florida A&M University scored 65 out of a possible 100 points in the State System of Florida’s performance-based funding model, securing more than $25 million extra in funding for meeting achievement and improvement benchmarks in several categories of institutional outcomes.
A decision day video that will make you smile. Or frown depending on your Alma mater.
Last month, Oakwood University made a private beef with its national alumni association public, publishing in the Adventist Review a lengthy treatment on how the Oakwood University Alumni Association has lost its 501(c)3 nonprofit designation, and that due to an inability to negotiate terms of partnership with the group, that graduates should not donate money to the organization.
OUAA’s decisions to ignore the Board of Trustees’ counsel has placed the University in a difficult position. OUAA through its website continues to solicit funds without regard to the institution’s wishes/instructions and during a time in which their tax-exempt status has been revoked. The University had hoped to avoid commenting on this situation until after Alumni Weekend but has decided that the current circumstances warrant this statement and other appropriate actions.
OAKWOOD UNIVERSITY has determined that, for as long as OUAA’s tax-exempt status remains revoked, it cannot have OAKWOOD UNIVERSITY’s permission to raise funds in the University’s name, and OAKWOOD UNIVERSITY cannot accept funds raised by OUAA after February 12, 2018, including funds raised during Alumni Weekend, unless such fundraising conforms to the receipting request made by the University.
This week, news is breaking among Morehouse College graduates about alleged improprieties in its elections for national alumni association officers. Concerns over balloting methods, potential bias for candidates and eligibility of voters in regions versus national vote counts are among the issues the Morehouse Men are debating, and quietly for now.
These are just the recent issues to surface about HBCU alumni shenanigans, which like most problems, aren’t exclusive to black folks or black institutions. Regents at the University of Minnesota are fighting each other for, among other things, the way members are selected to the board. But like most HBCU problems, they are exacerbated by the proximity of big egos to small resources and even smaller margins of error when one influential graduate or donor can get pissed and cost an institution hundreds of thousands of dollars for years.
Tuskegee alumni have tried for years to get presidents removed and trustees removed from the university’s board of trustees.
Florida A&M University alumni have lobbied against presidents, athletic directors, trustees and everybody who has or could get between them, their money, or their influence over the university. Jackson State alumni hacked their own presidential search.
These kinds of stories are all over the HBCU community. And in many ways, our schools are far better off with alumni fighting administrators than not caring what about what is happening to a school, like Elizabeth City State or Morgan State. If alumni are engaged, there is a sense that mutual goals could lead to a campus finding a great president, recruiting students and growing its profile for financial gain.
But it’s when alumni are jockeying for opportunity to secure a place on the governing board, or to curry perks in travel and exposure, or to leverage alumni following as a bargaining chip to get family members jobs, or to secure contracts, or to do other things which can really harm an institution; because when people who don’t know anything about the business of higher education have their hands all in it, it’s when things can really get jacked up – for years.
The lesson here is not convincing alumni against being at odds with campus leaders; discontent from stakeholders can be a healthy element of campus governance. But there are two considerations every graduate who has something to say about administration should ask themselves before pen hits paper, fingers hit Twitter or petitions get sent.
Is what I’m looking for best for me or best for the institution? And if it is truly best for the institution, how do I know with all certainty that this is in fact what the university needs now considering that I’m not on campus, not in meetings, not privy to budgets and not privy to the internal politics?
Elizabeth City State University will bump up its plans to install a new chancellor, announcing that a previous June 1 start date for incoming interim chancellor has been scratched in favor of an April 9 first day on the job for Karrie Dixon.
Sometimes HBCU news and affairs reaches the radar of PWI advocates. In Tallahassee, it is a frequent occurence for supporters of Florida State University.
Here’s a few points of emphasis from fans on Warchant.com message board, which is designed to be a place for FSU friends.
Normally a gallery of FAMU non-supporters would not be a big deal. But it should be, and it always should have been. Because the people who comment on message boards, on articles from local newspapers and broadcast television companies, and everywhere else divergent opinions can live aren’t just some run-of-the-mill racists from Podunk Town USA.
They are a sample of Florida’s God-fearing, taxpaying, 9-to-5 working, football watching neighbors who happen to love Florida State more than they love Florida A&M. Some of them are racists; most would consider themselves not to be. And if we met either of person in line at the grocery store or at a football game, chances are we wouldn’t be able to tell one from the other.
They are also voters, legislative advocates and donors. And you should believe that if they are willing to off anti-FAMU rhetoric pseudo-publically, they are fully willingly to back it up privately with donations and ballots.
These commenters believe and share, even in private spaces just out of sight even on the Internet, that life without FAMU means more parking for FSU football games, more resources for Florida State research and development, and expansion of the Seminole brand in a city dyed in FSU garnet and gold. They think FAMU is a waste of taxpayer money, is an ultimate resource of political and racial division, and takes up too much ink in local news coverage for too many bad headlines.
But what they don’t see is thow FAMU gives so many FSU undergrads an affordable shot at masters’ and doctoral education, which they can’t get at FSU. They don’t see that if you are African American and poor, Florida A&M offers a better shot at admission, graduation and post-graduate earnings than FSU offers.
But most importantly, they don’t see that Florida almost has to guarantee FAMU’s survival and the ability for certain programs to thrive, because anything less is likely to trigger a federal desegregation lawsuit that the state would likely lose, which would likely cost billions of dollars to fix and would deepen racial animosity between citizens.
And those billions would come right out of FSU’s budget, along with programs, resources and students in an effort to make FAMU more equitable.
That’s what some Florida State lovers don’t get. No, its not our job to make them smarter about it, but it is our job to ensure that as many people as possible are exposed to the best of what FAMU has to offer, and not just the controversial parts which come being a historically black school in a historically white town.
After all, folks in Tallhassee deserve to know the truth; a FAMU that simply exists virtually gurantees a strong Florida State. And fortunately for them, enough of FAMU’s leadership is comfortable enough with that prospect to ensure its success, year after year.
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?