Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rift between Mangum and FAMU NAA leadership grows wider

The rift between FAMU President Elmira Mangum and the leadership of the National Alumni Association (NAA) grew wider this week with a public war-of-words over a set of personnel changes in the Office of Alumni Affairs.

On Monday evening, the NAA executive board held an emergency meeting to discuss the recent layoffs of the manager of fiscal affairs and membership coordinator in the university’s Alumni Affairs office. The two positions assisted the NAA with a number of administrative tasks.

NAA President Tommy Mitchell said the executive board decided to inform Mangum of its disappointment about the way the two employees were treated.

“We are going to indicate our concerns,” Mitchell said in a quote published by the Tallahassee Democrat. “This was not done in a respectful manner. The people they fired played a critical role in our operations.

Yesterday, FAMU.edu posted a “Statement from FAMU Foundation Chair Thomas Jones Regarding Staff Changes” that defended the personnel “realignment.”

“The staff realignment is an essential part of the ‘Back to Basics’ changes that are needed to help us build a team and create the necessary positions that will accomplish the expectations of our Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, and more importantly our students in supporting our programs with effervescent and effectual fundraising, friend-raising, and alumni cultivation agendas,” Jones wrote.

Last month, WFSU reported that the NAA declined an invitation to support a press conference organized by a group of FAMU alumni lawmakers who wanted Board of Trustees Chairman Rufus Montgomery to resign. Mangum had accused the chairman of violating her rights as an employee two days earlier.

“While we chose not to be part of that press conference, we’re equally concerned about the dilemma of our board chair and president of being unable to work together,” Mitchell told WFSU.

WFSU reported that “Mitchell argues the battles between Mangum and Montgomery are largely policy, not pettiness.”

“The president is responsible for the operation of the university, however it seems the board feels if there’s a decision made that involves the budget—they feel it’s a policy issue,” he said.

The report did not specify the budget issue that Mitchell referred to. But Mitchell has recently expressed concerns about Mangum’s support of a decision to shift the $12,996,539 core operating budget of the College of Engineering (COE) from FAMU to Florida State University. That change was made with a vote of approval from the FAMU Board of Trustees.

“Alumni are extremely concerned,” Mitchell told Diverse Issues in Higher Education in July.  “It appears as though FAMU did not fight this. I think it’s important for FAMU to always be a strong advocate for FAMU and to make sure that whatever decisions are made [are] in the best interest of FAMU.”

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