Thursday, March 23, 2017

NCA&T controls millions at its COE, FAMU lost control of $12.9M at FAMU-FSU COE

NCA&T Chancellor Harold Martin listens as then-FAMU President Elmira Mangum speaks in 2015
North Carolina A&T University is not only the largest single campus historically black college or university (HBCU) in the nation, but its College of Engineering remains the #1 producer of engineering degrees on the undergraduate level awarded to African Americans.

The NCA&T College of Engineering continues to benefit from Chancellor Harold Martin’s decision to make it a central part of his vision for strengthening the university’s presence in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. Martin’s work to build his alma mater’s engineering programs goes back to his years of service as chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering and later dean of the college.

One big advantage that NCA&T’s engineering college currently has over Florida A&M University’s is that NCA&T controls millions of recurring dollars in legislative appropriations for its program. A study from 2011 estimated that the recurring appropriation for the NCA&T College of Engineering was about $5M per year.

FAMU controlled millions for the College of Engineering it shares with Florida State University between 1987 and 2015. That was due to a deal that former President Frederick S. Humphries struck for FAMU to get control of the budget in exchange for him agreeing to support Innovation Park as the building site for the COE.

But in 2015, then-FAMU President Elmira Mangum then gave her backing to a proposal to shift the $12.9M COE appropriation from the FAMU general revenue line to a new budget entity. She also joined FSU President John Thrasher in stating that a new Joint College of Engineering Governance Council would call the shots on the COE operating budget. That made it possible for the FSU representatives and BOG Chancellor Marshall Criser, III to out-vote FAMU on budget decisions.

Mangum went along with those changes even though the FAMU BOT didn’t vote to approve them.

Back when Thrasher was a state senator in 2014, he tried to split the COE by shifting an additional $13M into the FSU general revenue line to start an independent engineering college. According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times that year, a number of FSU advocates “believe the university should have a standalone engineering school as it pursues a top 25 ranking.”

But FSU no longer needs “a standalone engineering school” because the FSU delegates on the council can now vote together the BOG chancellor to help FSU get its way in decisions on the multi-million dollar COE budget that FAMU used to control. FSU also currently controls a separate engineering appropriation of at least $7M that goes into its general revenue line and still has the FAMU-FSU COE located in the site that it handpicked.  

As long as the changes that were made to the FAMU-FSU COE in 2015 stay in place, NCA&T will have a greater ability to shape its future in engineering education than FAMU will.

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