Ammons – a native of Winter Haven, Fla. – is currently a professor of political science at Florida A&M University (FAMU), his alma mater. His career at FAMU spanned two separate tenures totaling 27 years as a tenured professor and executive administrator – including serving as that institution’s 10th president from 2007-2012 and as its provost and vice president of Academic Affairs from 1995-2001.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Monday, November 25, 2013
FAMU’s Marching 100 is done with its football halftime performance schedule for this school year. There were no reported incidents of hazing.
Former FAMU President James H. Ammons suspended the 100 in November, 2011 following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, Jr. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Champion “willingly participated” in a violent, unauthorized pledging ritual aboard a parked bus after that year’s Florida Classic in Orlando.
At Ammons’s request, the FAMU Board of Trustees approved a new comprehensive Anti-Hazing Plan. It introduced new band regulations that included a four-year cap on the number of years a student can participate in music department bands, a requirement that all band members be enrolled full-time at FAMU, and a ban on practices that are not supervised by music department staff.
Monday, April 15, 2013
“Our audit disclosed that the University’s basic financial statements were presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with prescribed financial reporting standards,” Florida Auditor General David W. Martin wrote in the report. “The results of our tests disclosed no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards, issued by the Comptroller General of the United States.”
Saturday, December 29, 2012
|BOG Chairman Dean Colson, BOG Inspector General Derry Harper, and the entire BOG membership joined in on the wild goose hunt.|
BOG probe initially resembled a one-sided private investigation
Back on Nov. 29, 2011 then-BOG Chairwoman Ava Parker sent FAMU a letter stating that the board was going to investigate White’s allegations that “he received little support despite repeatedly advising current and former university administrators of hazing activities within the Marching 100 band.” It did not specifically mention any intent to examine then-President James H. Ammons’ claim about a lack of competence on White’s part.
The wild goose chase is finally over. More than a year after Parker’s letter, BOG Inspector General Derry Harper had no choice but to admit that the taxpayer-paid investigation into White’s allegations failed to find any evidence to back up the ex-band director’s claims about receiving “little help.”
“The allegation that FAMU staff failed to adequately address complaints of hazing by former Director of Bands was unsubstantiated,” Harper wrote.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
|Alabama State University students protest the suspension of President Joseph Silver (pictured). The university Board of Trustees placed Silver on administrative leave after only two months in office.|
Ammons’ presidency was a long one compared to some of his counterparts at other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the South. In 2012, there were a number of HBCU presidents who left under pressure after even shorter periods of service.
Students, alumni, and faculty members at some of these institutions say that dysfunction and under-the-table antics on their respective boards of trustees are to blame for the presidential ousters.
Fewer than four years
FAMU alumnus George C. Cooper began his tenure as the president of South Carolina State University on July 16, 2008 and resigned on March 30, 2012. The last straw between him and the board came after he said an internal investigation led him to fire eight high-ranking employees on February 10, 2012.
David Wilson, who was a finalist for the FAMU presidency in 2002, reported to work as the president of Morgan State University on July 1, 2010. On December 4, 2012, the Board of Trustees voted not to offer him a contract extension. His current employment agreement ends on June 30, 2013.
Monday, July 16, 2012
This morning, FAMU trustees tapped Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Larry Robinson to serve as the university’s interim president.
He will face another “confirmation” vote at the next face-to-face board meeting. Trustees have asked him to come to that meeting with a formal presentation to explain his vision for guiding FAMU through the transition period.
Student Body President Marissa West moved to appoint Robinson to the position.
“I think right now, we can’t afford any type of experiment,” West said. “I honestly think Provost Robinson is qualified…Dr. Robinson has a lot of confidence from the students of this university.”
Faculty Senate President Narayan Persaud seconded the motion and praised Robinson’s leadership skills. “Dr. Robinson was the leader of the SACS reaccreditation team and he assembled an excellent group of people to serve on that team. One should not forget his leadership skills.”
Trustee Belinda Shannon agreed. “In Dr. Robinson we are not dealing with an unknown entity…We do need to take advantage of the treasure that we do have in Dr. Robinson,” she said.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Back on Wednesday morning of July 11, On Wednesday, Rattler Nation broke the news that certain members of the FAMU Board of Trustees were working secretly to gather enough votes to oust Ammons during the teleconference scheduled for that day.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Persaud “was not aware of a plan to terminate Ammons or to ask Ammons to resign during Wednesday’s meeting.”
But an Associated Press article written by Gary Fineout contains details that did not appear in the Democrat.
Friday, July 13, 2012
The information from the trustees who weren’t supposed to know anything helped make sure that the news spread across Tallahassee and beyond.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported yesterday that former state Sen. Alfred “Al” Lawson “had been told that a motion to terminate Ammons was going to be introduced during a teleconference FAMU trustees held late Wednesday afternoon to discuss the budget for the athletics department and its fundraising arm, Rattler Boosters.”
The Democrat also stated that the president of the FAMU Faculty Senate, Narayan Persaud, “was not aware of a plan to terminate Ammons or to ask Ammons to resign during Wednesday’s meeting.” That is not surprising because the trustees who were coordinating the coup do not think much of Persaud or any of the other men and women who teach the university’s students.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
State Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, released the following statement yesterday in response to the resignation of FAMU President James H. Ammons:
As a state lawmaker and graduate of Florida A&M University, I am saddened by the announcement of President Ammons’ resignation. From the outset of his tenure, President Ammons has shown strong leadership and has worked to ensure that FAMU remains a beacon of academic excellence.
President Ammons has been a highly effective recruiter of talent to FAMU and he has instilled Rattler pride in the hearts of alumni throughout the world. He consistently puts first the best interests of FAMU students.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Ammons will remain on the faculty as a tenured professor.
The plan was to get the nine required votes and then launch a surprise coup during today’s Board of Trustees teleconference meeting at 4 p.m., which is only supposed to be about the FAMU Boosters budget. Cleve Warren’s appointment to the board was seen as a reason for optimism for those who wanted to accomplish this. He has given numerous signs that he stands with the agenda of the Florida Board of Governors and Scott’s office.
But the same problem that frustrated the vote coordinating actions that preceded the June 8 board meeting happened once again. Certain trustees who were deliberately left out of the under-the-table planning process found out anyway. That only created more distrust within the board and helped make sure that the news about what was going on spread across Rattler Country. Another failure seems to be on the horizon.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The Florida Supreme Court is also on Scott’s purge list, right along with the president of FAMU. Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, and Peggy Quince (the first African American woman to serve as the chief justice of Florida) have led the way in holding Scott accountable for his misuse of power.
Last year, Pariente, Lewis, and Quince were among five justices who ruled that Scott “overstepped his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers” when he signed an executive order that required all state agencies to receive his approval before they implemented any new rules.
The governor attempted to get those three justices back by asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to launch a ridiculous election violation investigation against them. Scott said they might have broken the law by having staffers assist them with routine paperwork related their merit retention processes.
The FDLE recently found that the Pariente, Lewis, and Quince did nothing wrong. Scott released a sarcastic-toned statement about the work done by FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey and his agents.
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Ammons got the finances in order and proved it by getting a clean financial statement audit. The BOG had to admit that financial situation had been corrected and disbanded the task force.
Some members of the legislature now want a piece of the latest media frenzy over FAMU. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, the incoming president of the Florida Senate, says he wants a “joint legislative review” of FAMU. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs announced that he will start the process with committee hearings about FAMU in the fall. He eventually wants the legislature to create an investigative task force that can subpoena individuals to testify.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Ammons' first day as president was July 2, 2007. He recruited the freshman class that enrolled in Fall 2008. Their six-year graduation rate success won’t be known until the Spring of 2014.
The six classes that have reached the six-year point since Ammons took the top job were recruited by previous presidents.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
The guidelines for the profile assessment process are outlined in BOG Regulation 6.002, which states: "Applicants who are not eligible for standard admissions may be considered for alternative admission. In addition to reviewing a student’s GPA and test scores, a university may consider other factors in the review of the student’s application for admission."
FAMU currently has the highest number of "profile admits" in the State University System of Florida.
"Why aren’t you directing [profile admits] to what was a community college or state college to get prepared to come to FAMU?" Tripp asked Ammons. "It’s cheaper. The purpose of the 2 + 2 system was to take those students who are obviously not prepared to do your work and to get them prepared."
Ammons answered by emphasizing that the "four-year college experience" FAMU offers is important to the success of the students the university serves as part of its historical mission. A 2007 study published in the Teachers College Record of Columbia University backs up Ammons' position.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
According to the Orlando Sentinel: “Some members of the Board of Governors suggested to FAMU President James Ammons that he focus on helping undergraduate students get through school before he continues expanding FAMU's graduate and doctoral programs.”
FAMU currently has a 39.3 percent six-year graduation rate.
Frank Brogan, the current chancellor of the State University System of Florida (SUS), served as the president of FAU from 2003 until 2009. The university’s six-year graduation remained below 40 percent during his entire presidency. But that didn’t stop him from aggressively expanding FAU’s research programs and building the foundation for the university’s current medical school.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Florida Board of Governors (BOG) Chairman Dean Colson has used the hazing death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion as a reason to question the leadership of FAMU President James H. Ammons.
“The safety of students enrolled and the experience they deserve are directly challenged by events during the past year,” Colson wrote in a recent letter about FAMU.
Colson’s take-no-prisoners stance against Ammons is the complete opposite of the stance he took when a student at his alma mater, the University of Miami (UM), died on the watch of President Donna Shalala.
Shalala, the current UM president, took office on June 1, 2001. On Nov. 4 of that year, 18-year old UM student Chad Meredith died from drowning during a hazing ritual led by the campus’ Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
Colson was a member of the UM Board of Trustees at the time. Shalala didn’t take drastic steps to eliminate hazing on UM’s campus before Meredith’s death (such as suspending all Greek organizations). But Colson still opted to protect her. He continued to be one of her biggest cheerleaders during his tenure as board chairman from 2004 to 2007.
Friday, June 08, 2012
Trustees voted 8-4 in favor of a vote of no confidence in the president. The "yeas" were: Jennings, Torey Alston, Rufus Montgomery, Charles Langston, Belinda Shannon, Karl White, Narayan Persaud, and Marissa West. The "nays" were: Chairman Solomon Badger, Vice-Chairman Spurgeon McWilliams, Kelvin Lawson, and Marjorie Turnbull.
The vote was explained to be an action that was a step above the reprimand Ammons received on Dec. 8, 2011 but still below a formal request for his resignation.
Ammons says he will not step down. He pledged to work hard to make sure that FAMU moves past its current challenges.
"I hear you loudly and clearly," he told Ammons the board after the vote. "I understand there are some measures I have to take as president of this university to fix things and I'm going to fix them. This is very serious. This is very serious for the future of this university and you have my commitment to fix them and get this job done."
Jennings has complained about Ammons' communication with the board. But Jennings' own decision to keep certain trustees out of the loop has hurt his ability to unify other trustees behind a motion to bring in a new president.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Monday, June 04, 2012
The proposals were developed at the direction of the Board of Trustees and in consultation with the administration’s internal crisis management committee and the trustees. The proposed measures include:
• The creation of a FAMU Anti-Hazing Special Assistant to the president, with broad-ranging authority to address hazing issues throughout the University.
• The establishment of a FAMU Compliance Officer for the Music Department, with direct reporting to the Special Assistant for Anti-Hazing.
• The re-organization and expansion of staff in the Office of Judicial Affairs to facilitate the adjudication of hazing issues and other matters pertaining to the student code of conduct.