Tuesday, September 22, 2015

FAMU BOT chairman questions process that created $130,000 AVP for alumni affairs job

Back in June, the chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees questioned the process that was used to create the new assistant vice-president for alumni affairs and university relations job. An April press release called the appointee to that position the “New Head of Alumni Affairs” even though the university already had an Office of Alumni Affairs with an executive director.

The Office of Alumni Affairs was in the news last week after the National Alumni Association (NAA) Executive Board expressed concerns about two personnel layoffs. NAA President Tommy Mitchell, writing on behalf of the NAA Executive Board said the two former employees were “Ms. Regina Gardner, assistant director of accounting, and Mr. Brandon Hill, coordinator, alumni engagement and membership services.”

John Michael Lee, who was hired to the newly-created assistant vice-president for alumni affairs and university relations position earlier in the year, is remaining in his current job. He makes $130,000 per year. 

BOT Chairman Rufus Montgomery criticized the process that led to the job for Lee in comments at the June 9 meeting of the Special Committee on Governance.

Lee sent an email to the BOT on November 8, 2014, about six months before he was hired, that discussed various concerns he had about the university. The BOT chairman said he was baffled by the writing problems that he saw in the email despite the fact that Lee has a Ph.D. degree.

“November 8th, an email from John Michael Lee, Jr., to the Board of Trustees. Trustees, if you’ll look at that next page, we had a gentleman, he’s an alum, has some obvious problems with spelling and grammar for someone with a doctorate, but I’m only pointing out the obvious; you can read it for yourself,” Rufus said.

The chairman continued: “So this person just attempts to, through all of the grammatical errors and everything you see --and it just baffles me why a person takes this type of umbrage with the Board of Trustees but doesn’t get their spelling correct or their grammar correct. I mean he lectures us here, talks about protocol, talks about petty politics, and questions: I’d like to caution the Board, can’t spell ‘legislature’ or ‘statutes.’; but here’s what’s important, and then he tells us through a directive what Trustees should or should not do, and he’s incorrect.”

Rufus went on to ask questions about the process that President Elmira Mangum used to the employ Lee at FAMU.

“So what do you do with this person? Do you hire this person several months later at a salary of $130,000, fail to advertise the position? What message are you saying to the Board?”

The chairman said the BOT might need to revise the “FAMU BOT Regulation 10.015, Recruitment, Selection, and Employment of University Faculty, Administrative and Professional, Executive Service, University Support Personnel System, and Other Personal Services Employees and, specifically, Section (2), Announcement of Vacant Positions.”

He said the rule gives the president the option “to waive the announcement of a position when a waiver is in the best interest of the University” and if it pays $200,000 or less, per year.

The chairman suggested that the rule might need to be revised so that the BOT would either have to approve waivers of position announcements or at least be notified about them before a position that wasn’t advertised is filled. 

“We’re not involved in specific personnel decisions, but the authority to waive the announcement of a position, especially in this time when we have budget challenges, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

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