Friday, July 29, 2016

Budget control decides how much money goes to diversity efforts at FAMU-FSU engineering

New FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) Dean J. Murray Gibson is continuing to say the right things about bringing more diversity to the school.

WCTV-6 reported yesterday that Gibson “plans to invest time in recruiting and retaining FAMU students. Right now, the school has roughly 2,200 students, but only about three to four hundred are FAMU students. There are about 100 staff members, yet only about a third are FAMU faculty members.”

Those things are all good. But the choice of how much money will actually be designated for diversity efforts at the COE is out of his hands.

FAMU started controlling the core operating budget for the COE in 1987 after former FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries struck a deal with then-FSU President Bernie Sliger. The agreement was that would get FAMU control of the budget in exchange for him agreeing to support Innovation Park as the building site for the COE.

Humphries used that budget control to add to the total funds available for recruiting top-level engineering students to FAMU. A 2014 report on the COE by CBT University Consulting pointed to Humphries’ success in recruiting highly qualified African American engineering students as a model that should be studied by the current leaders of FAMU and FSU.

FAMU’s enrollment in Fall 2015 dropped to 9,920 (down from 10,233 in Fall 2014) under current President Elmira Mangum. That cost FAMU $9M+ from tuition and fee losses. FAMU expects to lose about another $10M due to its projected loss of 920 students in 2016-2017.

FAMU no longer has control over what is a $13.4M budget for the COE in 2016-2017. Back in 2015, a new Joint College of Engineering Governance Council started to claim that it is in charge of the COE budget. At a May 20, 2015 meeting, the Joint Council unanimously voted to move the $12.9M COE core operating budget from FAMU to FSU.

Mangum supported those changes and didn’t let the FAMU BOT know before those things happened. The FSU representatives and Board of Governors (BOG) Chancellor Marshall Criser, III can now just outvote FAMU on budget decisions.

Back when then-state Sen. John Thrasher tried to split the COE in 2014, he said the goal was to give FSU an engineering school that would help it become a top 25 public university. He didn’t mention any concern about FAMU’s mission to train more black engineers and refused to offer FAMU enough money to replace the FSU faculty who would have left.

The real decisions about money for “diversity” at the COE will be on the Joint Council where Thrasher and Criser hold all the cards.    

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