Monday, May 08, 2017

Florida Gov’s race: Still no promises to help restore alumni majority on FAMU BOT

L-R: Gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, and Adam Putnam
On May 5, U.S. President Donald Trump released a signing statement with H.R. 244 that appeared to question the constitutionality of the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program. The statement has raised concerns about whether the administration is committed to supporting continued federal funding for HBCUs.

Florida A&M University, the only public HBCU in the state, has taken a number of attacks over the past six years from Gov. Rick Scott, a big Trump supporter. A recent one happened in 2015 when appointment decisions by Scott and the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) led to FAMU alumni being reduced to a minority on the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT).

FAMU went from having six of the 11 appointed seats on its Board of Trustees filled by alumni in 2015 to now only two. At both the University of Florida and Florida State University, alumni hold the majority of the 11 appointed seats.

The FAMU National Alumni Association has spoken out publicly about the problem. But so far Scott and the BOG haven’t announced any intention to correct it.

Right now, three Tallahassee-based candidates have officially filed for the 2018 gubernatorial race. Two are Democrats: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. The third, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, is a Republican.

No candidate at this time has publicly promised to work to restore the alumni majority on the FAMU BOT, if elected.

Six members of each state university BOT are appointed by the governor. The other five are appointed by the BOG, whose members are selected by the governor.

The small number of FAMU alumni that the Florida Governor’s Office and BOG have chosen to appoint to the FAMU BOT is an insult. It suggests that FAMU doesn’t have as many alumni who are up to the task of leadership as UF and FSU.

Rattlers deserve a future governor who is willing to promise to work to help FAMU alumni regain the majority of the appointed seats on the FAMU BOT.

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