Friday, May 05, 2017

SACS didn’t state that FAMU was on probation due to “administrative instability” in 2007

Back last year when it became clear that the FAMU Board of Trustees wasn’t going to grant a contract extension to then-President Elmira Mangum, many of her supporters started grasping for straws in their hunt for justifications for her to stay.

One claim some of them made was that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) put FAMU on probation for “administrative instability” in 2007 because the university had left too many interim administrators in important jobs for too long.

But that’s not what SACS said in the official letter it gave FAMU announcing the probation decision.

SACS informed FAMU of its decision to place the university on probation for ten areas of non-compliance in a June 2007 letter. “Administrative stability” wasn’t one of the non-compliance areas stated in the letter. The SACS rules didn’t even list “administrative stability” as part of the standards (and still don’t).  

“Financial stability” was one of the non-compliance areas for FAMU in 2007, but the term “administrative stability” wasn’t in the SACS rules or the SACS letter to FAMU.

The only non-compliance area in the letter that specifically mentioned employee problems was the rule (3.2.8) that required schools to have “qualified administrative and academic officers with the experience, competence, and capacity to lead the institution.”

There was no reason to be surprised by that citation considering that SACS had flagged non-compliance in “financial stability,” “submission of financial statements,” “financial aid audits,” and “control of finances.”

Interim President Castell V. Bryant claimed an $8M surplus in 2005. But state auditors said that there was really a $10.4M deficit.

When Grace Ali, controller and later vice-president of fiscal affairs during the Castell years, was at FAMU state auditors discovered that $39 million had been spent without following all the required rules. The university also received its first ever qualified audits during Castell and Ali’s watch.

Ali went on to become the chief financial officer for the Miami-Dade school district for just over 12 months. She and the superintendent who hired her stepped down amid allegations that included poor financial management.

SACS removed FAMU from probationary status in June 2008. That action followed the return to unqualified audits under the administration of then-President James H. Ammons.

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