Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chair, vice-chair challenge Mangum’s claim that COE budget shift was a “management decision”

Last week, the chairman and vice-chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees challenged President Elmira Mangum’s claim that the shift of the $12,996,539 core operating budget of the College of Engineering (COE) to Florida State University (FSU) was a “management decision.”

Back on May 20, the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council unanimously passed a resolution to shift the COE fiscal agent duties from FAMU to FSU. The FAMU voting representatives on the Council are Mangum (or her designee), Provost Marcella David, Vice-President for Research Timothy E. Moore, and Chief Financial Officer Dale Cassidy. FAMU had served as the fiscal agent for the COE for 28 years.

That change was made with a vote of approval from the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson brought the issue up during a meeting of the Special Committee on Governance on August 5. He gave the other trustees a set of pages from the rules of the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and asked them to look at “Section 3: Comprehensive Standards.”

“Section 3” includes a rule that says the policy-making job of the board of a school must remain distinct from the job of the administration to oversee the execution of policies. Lawson said that rule could give the FAMU Board of Trustees a way to challenge what the Joint Council did.

“We may have recourse to challenge that organization as implementing policy,” he said.

Lawson added that: “What was done in the Joint Council was a setting of policy for both schools…We do have recourse on this issue if we choose as a board.”

Mangum was present at the committee meeting. She said that the Joint Council hadn’t set a policy for the COE.

“It was an administrative decision about who handles the parts of the operation,” Mangum said. “It was a management decision.”

But Lawson and Chairman Rufus Montgomery disagreed.

“When it is a $13 million decision, that is a policy decision,” the chairman said.

The chairman and vice-chairman asked a number of FAMU offices, including the Office of the General Counsel, to look into the issue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem with this whole scenario is the lack of understanding of the end game and support of our President. President Mangum wants the deanship of the COE to reside at FAMU. PERIOD.... Since the school is a partnership something had to be given up. FAMU cannot control everything. Why give up the budget? The $12.9M is state dollars. FSU will have to provide FAMU looks at the spending of the money anytime it is requested. The Dean of the COE signs off on spending of his college. It is state dollars, they are in a partnership and FSU cannot say No. These dollars are sudited annually. President Mangum's expertise is in budgeting, financial controls and operations. I assure you very little will get past her. Her team will be on top of the financial health of the COE.

What do we get by giving up the budget for the deanship? A lot.... The strength of the engineering school lies with FAMU'S mission and not FSU's. If you look at the COE from majority institution eyes the engineering school is average. It IS NOT ranked in the top 100 engineering schools according to US News and World Report 2016. UF is ranked #43, UCF #85,USF #99,and UM #114. FAMU/FSU is ranked #117. If someone wanted to support a majority institution with a grant, research dollars or gift, unless it is a FSU grad, they would not pass over the better engineering schools to give it to FAMU/FSU.

However, if the entity is interested in diversity and increasing the pool of minority engineers they would give money and support to FAMU/FSU COE. FAMU/FSU is ranked higher than any of the other HBCU COEs. FAMU has a great reputation and is considered one of the top HBCUs and has a good track record for STEM programs.

By having the deanship at FAMU the FAMU/FSU COE is better aligned with the overall mission at FAMU. You have a dean that is committed to our mission and will potentially participate in recruiting activities at FAMU. When was the last time you saw the COE Dean at a FAMU event? This will only help us increase enrollment of minority engineers at FAMU and may better help to hire minority engineering professors who may be committed to increasing the number of minority and women engineers.

If the FAMU BOT wants to continue the dialogue it should be with its boss the BOG to clarify how the Joint Council will operate and to clarify that it does not usurp the BOT's role. However, understand the President wants the deanship and we and the BOT need to understand and support this vision independent of the power struggle about the Joint Council and its role which is somewhat a separate issue, but kind of related.

Again, the Dean will set the vision of the FAMU/FSU COE through his//her actions. Right now the strength is with us to move the school forward. If through both schools' e efforts, the FAMU/FSU COE moves from #117 say to #70 it will still be ranked behind UF. However, it at least will be 2nd best in the state. That kind of movement does not happen overnight. Right now it is best in class of HBCus and being number 1 in your peer group is better than being #117 overall.