Wednesday, October 19, 2016

FAMU president has final say on faculty appointments, not deans

Last month’s Rattler Nation editorial that mentioned how John Thrasher used former FAMU President Elmira Mangum to help him put an end to 28 years of FAMU budget control at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) got the usual misinformed responses on social media from Rattlers-in-name-only who still don’t have a clue.

FAMU went from having control over the then-$10.4M COE budget in 2015 to now just being the tenure home of the COE dean.

One of the nonsense claims that’s still being spread is that FAMU is really better off now because previous COE deans declined to fill vacant FAMU faculty positions and moving the dean’s tenure home to FAMU was necessary to fix that problem.

But the COE dean doesn’t actually have the final say on faculty appointments. The FAMU president can make a faculty appointment to the COE without the approval of the dean.

A budget workbook that was presented to the FAMU Board of Trustees back in April 2014 explained the real problem that made FAMU lose ground when it came to its number of faculty members at the COE. That document dated April 29, 2014 said that “over the years, salary increases at FSU and no corresponding increases at FAMU have contributed to the disparity.”

This problem is a big part of the reason why FAMU has a much smaller number of engineering professors at the college than FSU does. The workbook stated that: “When [FAMU’s] most outstanding faculty receive better offers, FSU often is unwilling to let the College lose them. For FSU faculty, FSU provides counter offers and for FAMU faculty FSU provides new faculty lines with competitive salaries to retain them. While the net effect benefits the College, from [the] FAMU perspective however, it shifts the distribution of faculty between FAMU and FSU, especially the most productive.”

When FAMU engineering professors have received better job offers, FSU has often hired them in order to keep them from leaving the COE. FSU has been able to do this because of its separate engineering appropriation, big general revenue budget, and larger amount of tuition dollars.   

Giving up budget control of the COE wasn’t the answer to that problem. The answer was to keep on lobbying the legislature for additional funds to hire more FAMU engineering professors and to continue fundraising to support new faculty positions.

Mangum could have avoided the COE disaster that was a big factor in her ouster if she had been willing to listen to strong past FAMU presidents like Frederick S. Humphries. He could have helped her avoid the mistake of thinking that FAMU didn’t previously control the COE budget, a huge error that ending up hurting both her and the entire university.

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