Monday, June 17, 2019

No worries: Robinson continues to travel during crisis

Dr. Robinson and FAMU Alumni in Las Vegas, Saturday 
In a week where FAMU's three top finance official ---Vice President for Administration and Finance/CFO Wanda Ford, Assistant Vice President/Comptroller Tiffany Holmes, and University Budget Director Ronica Mathis--- either resigned or were fired over the inappropriate transfer of funds, and VP for Audit Joe Maleszewski's recent revelation to the FL Board of Governors (BOG) last Thursday that he was hiring an outside audit firm to determine the actual amount of dollars and the number of people involved improper transfer of dollars from auxiliaries to athletics...   Maleszewski told the BOG that an outside firm would be hired by last Friday, their investigation is to be completed by August.  

Given this backdrop, President Larry Robinson seems to be worry free as he continues to travel the globe to take pictures with alumni.

In the past four weeks FAMU has been hit with the near death penalty by the NCAA, a lawsuit by the former VP for Advancement over disparaging remarks via a "hot microphone",  and the then the crisis in the division of Administrative and Financial Services heading into last weeks' BOG meeting. 

As Orze Killgo, a writer at HBCU Digest, wrote last week there are "glaring signs that Dr. Robinson and his leadership team are not equipped to deal with these and other ongoing issues." 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day!

RN recognizes all the Rattler fathers out there who take the time to be more than a father to their child, but put in the work to be called daddy! Happy father's day!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

FAMU Judge Rodney Smith ascends to federal bench

Rodney Smith, a 1996 graduate of FAMU, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a federal judge for the Southern District of Florida which includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties last week.  Smith previously had served as a state judge since in Miami since 2012.  He was nominated to the federal bench by President Donald Trump in May 2018. 

His background includes stints as an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade County and an assistant city attorney for the city of Miami Beach.  Smith is also a member of the Federalist Society, a nationwide group of conservative lawyers that seeks to interpret the law as written and plays a large role in Republican Supreme Court nominations.

Through his conservative ties Smith, became close with Sen. Marco Rubio.  During his confirmation Democrats question Smith over his decision to impose a life sentence without parole for a juvenile in 2008 and for his Federalist Society activities. The Miami Times said Smith once described himself as “the skinny kid from Liberty City.”

Smith earned his law degree from Michigan State University.

Friday, June 14, 2019

FAMU awarded $13.75 million in state performance funds

The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) on Thursday announced that FAMU would receive $13,750,113 in additional state investments from the State University System's $265m performance base funding (PBF) funds.  The $13.75m will be added to $15.3m of FAMU's own money (institutional investment) which is withheld annually pending results. In order for a university to have its "institutional investment" returned it must score a minimum of 51 out of a possible 100 points.

This is the first time since 2016 that FAMU has received a share of the "additional state investment" money. This year after pressure from the Legislature, particularly FAMU grad State Rep. Ramon Alexander, the BOG did away with its punitive "bottom three" rule which withheld the additional investment funds from the three lowest scoring universities, regardless of their scores.

UWF excels at performance 
Perhaps, the shinning star of this year's PBF announcement is the University of West Florida.  Just five years ago, when the model was unveiled UWF came in dead last and had a portion of its budget withheld.   This year the school finished second with 94 points, behind University of Florida.

Since 2014, UWF has increased its graduation rate by 45 percent. "Our rise has been rather intentional.  I wish I could point to one thing that did all the magic, but it's not one thing.  It's really taking a campus culture and refocusing it on those goals the best align with the state," said UWF President Martha Saunders

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Budget Director & Comptroller latest casualties in Division of Finance shake up

FAMU Budget Director Ronica Mathis and Comptroller & Assistant Vice President Tiffany Holmes were relieved of their duties yesterday.  Holmes is the wife of former FAMU football coach Earl Holmes.  Archie BouieVice President of Administrative and Financial Services will provide oversight of the Budget and Controller’s Office in the interim.

Rumors of Mathis and Holmes impending departures have swirled around campus since Friday.

Mathis was responsible for the operational management and administrative direction of the Budget Office. Her duties included formulating & administering the University's Annual Operating Budget and ensuring appropriate expenditure of all funds allocated.  In recent years Mathis also managed the budget for the Athletic Department. 

Holmes' duties included ensuring that the University's financial records are accurate and in compliance with statements of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, FAMU BOT and Florida BOG policies, procedures and regulations; and pertinent State and Federal regulations.  

The dismissals come just days after Wanda Ford, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer abruptly resigned.

According to sources close to the situation, Ford’s sudden departure came after she was given the choice to either resign or be fired. The ultimatum came after what the university described late last evening “as a result of an audit follow-up that indicated auxiliary funds had been transferred to cover a shortfall in the athletic budget.” 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Robinson attempts to get out in front of fast moving finance story

Late this evening, Florida A&M University issued the following statement via FAMU Info:
Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., today announced that the University is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the Division of Finance and Administration. 
The assessment was prompted as a result of an audit follow-up that indicated auxiliary funds had been transferred to cover a shortfall in the athletic budget, which does not comply with a Board of Governors regulation. Since 2016, FAMU has been implementing a corrective action plan to address a previous transfer of such funds. While many elements of the corrective plan were implemented, the transfer of these funds to Athletics continued and was recently brought to the University’s attention.

CBS News selects two FAMU J-School grads for internships in NYC

Gabby Bolden (l) and Diasha Henley (r), two recent FAMU broadcast journalism graduates have been selected as CBS News Fellows. The two will spend this summer in NYC interning for the “48 Hours” and CBSN departments, respectively. 

When asked about any advice she would give to current students, Bolden told us, “To prepare for something of this caliber it is imperative for students to be involved in student media, actually write stories, interview subjects, research, reach out to the community/peers, and never doubt your abilities!” Henley echoed this, and even took it a step further, saying “Don’t be scared to say yes to things you’re afraid of. That opportunity can open doors for you at any moment.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

13 student-athletes finish spring semester with 4.0 gpa

Zach Saffold, Sophmore,
Offensive Lineman
Thirteen FAMU student-athletes finished the spring semester with a perfect 4.0 grade-point-averages, and 134 FAMU student-athletes finished the semester with a 3.0 gpa or above. 

“I salute these student-athletes for demonstrating that academics is the first order of business,” said FAMU Director of Athletics, John Eason, Ph.D. “We are a university first and an athletics department second and that order can never be forgotten.” 

“I also salute their coaches and academic staff who assisted them in getting to this point,” Eason added.

The student-athletes that achieved the perfect semester are:
Alelee Figueroa (Track & Field), Renaldo Flowers (Football), Joshua Lowder (Track & Field), Sharon Kibiwott (Track & Field), Randall Leath (Men’s Basketball), Brett Maxwell( Baseball), Haleigh Porter ( Women’s Tennis), Mercy Rotich (Track & Field), Zach Saffold (Football), Illya Skoromnyy (Men’s Tennis), Bradley Weatherington ( Football), Raekwon Webb (Football) and Jared Weber (Baseball).