Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tripp’s record at FAU disqualifies him from criticizing FAMU’s graduation rate

Norman Tripp was a member of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Board of Trustees for more than six years and served as its chairman between 2007 and 2008. The six-year graduation rate never rose above 39.8 percent during any of those years. But he now seems to think that his record at FAU somehow qualifies him to be a leading critic of the current 39.03 percent six-year graduation rate at FAMU.

Back in 2001, Gov. Jeb Bush chose Tripp to be a member of the first-ever Board of Trustees at FAU. The six-year graduation rate at the university was 39.8 percent that year. That was the highest it would ever be during Tripp’s years on the BOT. 

The six-year graduation rate at FAU went down to 37.9 percent in 2007, the year that Tripp was elected to become chairman of the BOT. It was 39.4 percent in 2008 when Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Tripp to a seat on the Florida Board of Governors (BOG).

Tripp was a big supporter of FAU President Frank Brogan despite the fact that six-year graduation was below 40 percent every year that Brogan was in charge from 2003 to 2009. The six-year graduation at FAU also didn’t stop him from giving his enthusiastic support to the possibility of hiring Brogan to become the BOG chancellor.

“He would absolutely be the perfect candidate, exactly what the university system would need,” Tripp said of Brogan in 2009.

The six-year graduation at FAU had gone down again to 39.4 percent in 2009 when the BOG appointed Brogan to the chancellor position.

Tripp has treated the FAMU presidents who have come before the BOG with 39 percent six-year graduation rates very differently from the way he treated Brogan.

“I don’t understand why you’re taking so many that are obviously not prepared to do your work and then say you’re struggling to understand why they can’t get through in four years, five years,” Tripp told FAMU President James H. Ammons in 2012. “Until you correct that problem, I think you’re kidding yourself.”

FAMU had a 39.3 percent six-year graduation rate that year.

Tripp was back at it during the BOG meeting last week in his comments to FAMU President Elmira Mangum.

“You’ve got to go out and find those students, okay, who can perform at the level that you need so you can be funded,” he told her.

“It just sort of bothers me, I guess, when I hear you say back to me, ‘Well, you know, we have a mission of providing …,” he added without completing the sentence. “We, as a state are trying to provide equal education for everybody. We don’t have separate but equal anymore.”

If Tripp thought Brogan was a “perfect candidate” to become the BOG chancellor in 2009 despite the fact that the six-year graduation rate numbers never reached 40 percent during his FAU presidency, then he has no grounds to bash FAMU’s current president for having a 39.03 percent six-year graduation rate. Tripp isn’t the least bit qualified to criticize the six-year graduation rate at FAMU.

NOTE: The number for the FAMU six-year graduation rate comes from the February 26, 2015 report of the FAMU Office of Institutional Research. It is for the class that went into its sixth year in 2014.   

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