Thursday, November 29, 2012

FAMU finally safe from threat of an Ava Parker presidency

Back in July, a number of FAMU trustees were told that Board of Governors (BOG) member Ava Parker was interested in becoming the university’s interim president. There were also attempts to pressure them with claims that Gov. Rick Scott would welcome Parker’s selection, but would but unhappy if then-Provost Larry Robinson were selected for the position.

Even after the FAMU trustees appointed Robinson anyway, there was increasingly desperate lobbying to try and line up votes that could lead to Parker becoming the permanent president.

It looks like FAMU is finally safe from the threat of a Parker presidency. She has been tapped to serve as the interim chief operating officer of Florida Polytechnic University, one of Scott’s pet projects. It will be a two-year job.

Scott gave strong support to the legislative campaign to make the University of South Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland into an independent school even as the rest of public universities were struggling under extreme budget cuts. Florida Polytechnic was his chance to get what is effectively a university of his own. Since the Polytechnic Board of Trustees is entirely new, Scott got to stack it full of his cronies. There are many at the Florida capitol who believe that Scott sees Polytechnic as his legacy project.

Parker is a terrific selection to lead Scott’s university. She is very good at going along with what the Office of the Florida Governor seems to want. Back when she was chairwoman of the BOG, the BOG bowed to political pressure to vote in favor of separating Polytechnic in Lakeland from the rest of USF.

The ex-BOG chairwoman never had much hope of gaining respect on FAMU’s campus if she had been chosen to become interim president. She did not use her seat on the BOG to try and hold former FAMU Interim President Castell Bryant accountable for all the damage her administration caused at the university. Parker also decided not speak out against Scott’s veto of the 2012-2013 operating funds for the Crestview satellite campus of the FAMU pharmacy school.

Rattlers raised many questions about Parker’s decision to launch a one-sided BOG investigation into ex-FAMU band director Julian White’s allegations that “he received little support despite repeatedly advising current and former university administrators of hazing activities within the Marching 100 band.”

When the efforts to urge trustees to appoint Parker as an interim president began, some FAMUans wondered if the BOG investigation was just a tool to try and create a presidential vacancy at FAMU so Parker could fill it.

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