Monday, December 21, 2015

Alumni lawmakers letting Scott, BOG, and Thrasher run over FAMU

In 2015, FAMU lost control of a multi-million dollar college budget after 28 years and saw its alumni become a minority in the 11 appointed university Board of Trustees seats.

If any of those things had happened to the University of Florida, Florida State University, or the University of South Florida, their alumni lawmakers would be up in arms. But the FAMU alumni in the Florida Legislature have remained quiet about these attacks against the university.

John Thrasher failed last year when he, in his position as a state senator, attempted to push $13M through the legislature to start an independent FSU College of Engineering. But he has now effectively gotten control of the operating budget (currently $12.9M) for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) that FAMU was in charge of from 1987-2014. 

Back in 2007, FSU President T.K. Wetherell tried to get the then-$10.4M COE appropriation moved from the FAMU general revenue line to the FSU general revenue line. He said the plan would have let FSU make the management choices for the budget.  But FAMU alumnus and state Sen. Alfred “Al” Lawson and others led the way in stopping that change from happening.

Thrasher appears to have learned from T.K.’s botched effort to take control of the COE budget away from FAMU. This year as the new FSU president, he got the legislature to move the $12.9M COE out of the FAMU general revenue line but asked for it to be placed into a new budget entity called “FAMU/FSU College of Engineering” instead of asking for it to be placed in the FSU general revenue line like T.K. did. The FAMU alumni in the legislature didn’t demand that the new budget entity have language that explicitly said FAMU would continue to be in control of that money.

The new Joint College of Engineering Governance Council has now started calling the shots on the $12.9M core COE operating budget in the year 2015. This has made it possible for the FSU representatives and Board of Governors (BOG) Chancellor Marshall Criser, III to just outvote FAMU on budget decisions.

FAMU’s alumni in the legislature haven’t done anything to challenge this even though the there isn’t any language in the General Appropriations Act that says the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council is in charge of the $12.9M budget for the COE.

FAMU has also gone from having six of the 11 appointed seats on its Board of Trustees filled by alumni earlier this year to now only three. At both the University of Florida and Florida State University, alumni have ten of the 11 appointed seats. The alumni lawmakers of FAMU still haven’t publicly taken Gov. Rick Scott or the BOG to task for this.

Scott, the BOG, and Thrasher are running all over FAMU and the FAMU alumni in the legislature have done nothing to stop it.

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