Showing posts with label Ammons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ammons. Show all posts

Monday, November 25, 2013

FAMU strikes blow against culture of hazing with safe Marching 100 season

The culture of hazing that has plagued the FAMU student body for years won’t disappear overnight, but the university scored a critical victory against it during the 2013 marching band season.

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

Ammons’ last annual state audit has no findings

On March 21, the Florida auditor general announced the results of the final financial statement audit of the administration led by former FAMU President James H. Ammons. Once again, there were no findings.

“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 ends wild goose chase, jumps off Julian White bandwagon

BOG Chairman Dean Colson, BOG Inspector General Derry Harper, and the entire BOG membership joined in on the wild goose hunt.
The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) jumped on the bandwagon of ex-Marching 100 Director Julian White shortly after FAMU announced his termination on Nov. 23, 2011. Yesterday, it officially jumped off.

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

2012 a rough year for HBCU presidents

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.
Former FAMU President James H. Ammons completed five years in office before stepping down in July of 2012.

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

FAMU trustees buck political pressure, appoint Robinson interim president

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

Persaud stands on naivety, says no one on FAMU board plotted against Ammons

The Tallahassee Democrat and Associated Press both interviewed FAMU Faculty Senate President Narayan Persaud about what he knew prior to the resignation of University President James H. Ammons. Persaud wants FAMUans to accept his naïve belief that none of the 13 board members worked together to plot against Ammons.

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

Under-the-table antics of FAMU Board of Trustees finally make headlines

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 FAMU President James H. Ammons during the teleconference scheduled for that day. A number of board members who were deliberately left in the dark found out anyway and made their anger known.

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

Williams: Ammons "brought positive change to FAMU"

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 to step down Oct. 11

FAMU President James H. Ammons emailed the members of the university Board of Trustees today to submit a 90 day notice of his intention to step down. His last day will be October 11, 2012.

Ammons will remain on the faculty as a tenured professor.

Scheming trustees shoot themselves in the feet again by keeping selected members in the dark

The FAMU trustees who are leading the attempt to hand the university presidency over to Gov. Rick Scott have become careless. Yesterday morning, Rattlers both on and off campus were openly discussing the latest effort to gather enough votes to oust President James H. Ammons and bring in a new top official who is more to the governor’s liking.

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

FDLE gives cold shoulder Scott’s political attack against Quince and two fellow justices

Gov. Rick Scott demands complete obedience from his cronies. That’s the reason why Frank Brogan, Dean Colson, and Rufus Montgomery are so beloved by the governor’s office. It’s also the reason why Scott’s working so hard to get rid of individuals like James Ammons, who aren’t afraid of him.

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

Fla. Senate president wants in on media circus surrounding FAMU, plans probe

Back in 2007, President James H. Ammons took FAMU’s top job while the university was in the middle of an investigation financed by the Florida Legislature. Lawmakers had given the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) $1M for a Task Force on FAMU Finance and Operational Control Issues. It mainly covered the financial mess created by former Interim President and ex-BOG member Castell V. Bryant, even though her BOG buddies refused to call her out for what she did to FAMU.

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

Graduation rate for Class of 2014 will be big test for Ammons

FAMU's six-year graduation rate has attracted lots of news coverage, lately. FAMU President James H. Ammons' administration has taken a number of steps to help students earn their baccalaureate degrees more quickly. But there won’t be enough data to fully evaluate the success of this work until two years from now.

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

Studies: Students who want bachelor’s degrees do best when they start at four-year colleges

On June 20, 2012, Board of Governors (BOG) member Norman Tripp asked FAMU President James Ammons why he doesn't send more of the university's applicants to two-year colleges rather than admitting them as through the "profile assessment" process.

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

FAMU should be able to expand doctoral programs despite graduation rate, just like FAU

Yesterday, a number of members of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) attacked FAMU’s doctoral program ambitions with a lame argument that didn’t stop Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) doctoral expansion efforts.

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

2001: Colson protects Shalala after Meredith hazing death

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

Trustee discord over presidential shortlist sinks attempt to gain two-thirds for a removal vote

The distrust between a group of FAMU trustees who've already finalized their shortlists for the university's next leader and a number of other trustees who've been left out of the under-the-table planning process helped sink an effort to solidify the two-thirds vote required to force President James H. Ammons out of office. By the time yesterday's Board of Trustees meeting started, ex-Chairman Bill Jennings couldn’t get enough support for a motion to force Ammons to leave. He settled for a vote of no confidence instead of conceding a total defeat.

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.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Ammons announces updated Anti-Hazing Plan

FAMU President James H. Ammons will present an updated Anti-Hazing Plan to the FAMU Board of Trustees.

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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FAMU to appoint hazing czar, strengthen eligibility monitoring for band

FAMU President James H. Ammons will present a number of long-term anti-hazing recommendations to the Board of Trustees next week. His plans include the appointment of a senior administrative official who will dedicate his/her full-time attention to the campus’ hazing problem.

“We’ll have someone like a hazing czar, if you will, who will monitor the student organizations on the campus,” Ammons said.

Ammons says that the university will also implement additional controls to ensure that every member of the Marching 100 is a currently-enrolled student in good standing.

“We think that it’s important for us to have a compliance officer to deal with some of the issues we have around non-students performing in the band to ensure that everyone is properly enrolled,” Ammons said. “That they are making sufficient academic progress.”