Showing posts with label BOG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BOG. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2015

News stories about FAMU officials linked to financial scandals far from over

A number of officials at Florida A&M University, and some individuals who have recently left their leadership posts at the school, have been at the center of public controversies over the past several years after being linked to financial scandals. The news coverage that is following a few of them appears to be far from finished.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

McWilliams leaves FAMU Board of Trustees

Yesterday, a Rattler Nation Twitter post broke that news that Spurgeon McWilliams had stepped down from the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT). McWilliams informed Florida Board of Governors (BOG) Chancellor Marshall Criser, III of his decision to leave in a brief letter.

Up until Wednesday, McWilliams was the longest-serving active member of the FAMU BOT. The BOG originally appointed him in 2006. He then received a reappointment in 2011 for a term that was to expire on January 6, 2016.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

BOG inspector general asks FAMU for answers about hiring of Dee Gamble

The inspector general of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) is asking FAMU for answers about the hiring process that led to the employment of Santoras “Dee” Gamble.

Back on August 25, WFSU reported that the FAMU Office of Communications had hired Gamble to a job that pays him $75,000 per year. According to WFSU, “Gamble was convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, a felony.”

BOG Inspector General Joseph Maleszewski emailed FAMU Vice-President for Audit and Compliance Richard Givens on September 9 with questions about the whether the university followed all of its required rules before Gamble was offered a job.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Black Caucus should ask state auditors to investigate $12.9M COE budget shift to FSU

(L-R) Arthenia Joyner, Mia Jones, Andrew Gillum, Alan Williams, and Dwight Bullard
July 1, 2015 became the first day in 28 years that FAMU wasn’t in control of the appropriation for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE).

The Florida Legislature designated FAMU to be in charge of the money and put the funds in the university’s general revenue line between 1987 and 2014. But in May, after the legislature created a new budget entity for the appropriation, a new Joint College of Engineering Governance Council decided that it was going to start calling the shots about what happens to the $12.9M COE budget instead of FAMU.

The council took that position even though it isn’t even mentioned in the General Appropriations Act that created the new budget entity. No part of the General Appropriations Act says that the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council has permission to take control of the $12.9M COE budget.

Members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus should ask Florida Auditor General Sherrill F. Norman to open a formal investigation into the recent actions of the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council and especially its decision to shift the $12.9M COE appropriation from FAMU to FSU. The change was done without a vote of approval from the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

State law doesn’t say that Joint Council is in charge of $12.9M College of Engineering budget

On Sunday, Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee was in attendance when the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) voted 8-4 to decline a performance bonus for President Elmira Mangum. Williams, a FAMU alumnus, later said that he hoped the board and president could find a way to work out their differences.

“What we are all hopeful of is that we all have adults in the room that will use their appointed position as president or their appointed position as a Board of Trustees member in a way that most effectively promotes FAMU and protects the resources and tax dollars that are entrusted to them to make sure that FAMU is producing quality graduates,” Williams told the Florida Times-Union.

BOT Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson, who made the motion to deny a bonus to Mangum, said that the shift of the $12.9M core operating budget of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) from FAMU to FSU was a problem that Mangum needed to work to fix. That change was made without a vote of approval from the FAMU BOT and was supported by Mangum. A number of other FAMU trustees have also said that the shift of the COE budget to FSU shouldn't have happened.

Williams could help Mangum with this problem by publicly clarifying the fact that the General Appropriations Act didn’t state that the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council is charge of that $12.9M.

Monday, October 19, 2015

FAMU chair, vice-chair say $12.9M COE budget shift to FSU should be reversed

FAMU Board of Trustees Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson
On October 9, the Florida State University Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to approve a $90,000 bonus and a 7.4 percent raise for President John Thrasher.

One of the biggest accomplishments that Thrasher made this year was getting the $12.9M core operating budget of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) moved from FAMU to FSU after 28 years. That change was made without a vote of approval from the FAMU BOT and was supported by FAMU President Elmira Mangum.

Yesterday, the FAMU BOT voted against awarding Mangum a bonus for her performance during her first year as president. Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson, who made the motion, said that the COE budget shift to FSU was a problem that Mangum needed to work to fix.

“I would like to see us make an active pitch to regain budget authority for the College of Engineering,” Lawson said at the Sunday meeting.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Claims bill cites Harper’s work despite critical state auditor review that preceded his exit

A claims bill (SB 60) that seeks compensation for the parents of deceased FAMU drum major Robert Champion cites a 2012 report written about FAMU’s anti-hazing program by former Florida Board of Governors (BOG) Inspector General Derry Harper despite the critical state auditor review that preceded Harper’s exit from that job.

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, introduced the bill on July 31. It does not specify a payment amount. But the Orlando Sentinel reported nine days before the bill was filed that the Champion family had offered to settle its wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU for $8 million. A civil trial is scheduled to begin in October.

FAMU offered the Champions $300,000 in 2012, but the family rejected it. The Florida sovereign immunity law sets $300,000 as the most that state universities can pay as part of a legal proceeding. Higher amounts must come from a claims bill passed by Florida Legislature. A claims bill that Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, filed for the Champion parents in 2013 did not receive approval from the legislature.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tripp’s record at FAU disqualifies him from criticizing FAMU’s graduation rate

Norman Tripp was a member of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Board of Trustees for more than six years and served as its chairman between 2007 and 2008. The six-year graduation rate never rose above 39.8 percent during any of those years. But he now seems to think that his record at FAU somehow qualifies him to be a leading critic of the current 39.03 percent six-year graduation rate at FAMU.

Back in 2001, Gov. Jeb Bush chose Tripp to be a member of the first-ever Board of Trustees at FAU. The six-year graduation rate at the university was 39.8 percent that year. That was the highest it would ever be during Tripp’s years on the BOT. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Smith calls BOG member’s remarks to FAMU president, provost “condescending”

On Wednesday, former FAMU President Walter Smith spoke out against a set of comments that Florida Board of Governors (BOG) member Norman Tripp made to the current FAMU president and provost. He called Tripp’s remarks “condescending.”

The statement that led to Smith’s criticism came after FAMU President Elmira Mangum and Provost Marcella David presented the university’s revised Work Plan to the BOG. According to Politico Florida, “Tripp referred specifically to FAMU’s history of serving black students when arguing it must adapt.”

“It just sort of bothers me, I guess, when I hear you say back to me, ‘Well, you know, we have a mission of providing …,” he said without completing the sentence. “We, as a state are trying to provide equal education for everybody. We don’t have separate but equal anymore.”

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Former Rick Scott staffer will join FAMU Board of Trustees

Yesterday, the Nomination and Governance Committee of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) recommended that T. Nicole Washington receive an appointment to the FAMU Board of Trustees. The BOG made the selection official today.

Washington will fill the seat formerly held by Marjorie Turnbull, who left earlier this year after her term expired. Her appointment will begin today and continue through 2020 if she is confirmed by the Florida Senate.

Washington is a self-employed educational consultant who lives in South Florida. She formerly served as an analyst in Gov. Rick Scott’s Office of Policy and Budget and then went on to work as associate director of Governmental Relations for the BOG. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University and a master of arts degree from Teachers College of Columbia University.

Friday, August 28, 2015

BOG not signaling any interest in saving Mangum presidency

Back in June, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) said that it would review the claims from a group of FAMU alumni in the legislature who said that FAMU Board of Trustee Chairman Rufus Montgomery’s treatment of President Elmira Mangum has been “bordering dangerously close to bullying.” But the BOG still isn’t signaling any interest in saving the Mangum presidency.

The tension between Rufus and Mangum has increased in the weeks after the lawmakers took their concerns to the BOG.  The latest clash took place on August 17 when Mangum accused Rufus of violating her “employee rights according to University Regulation 10.103(3b) -Nondiscrimination Policy and Harassment Procedures.” She later told the Florida Times-Union that she thought Rufus was working toward the goal of firing her.

But BOG Chancellor Marshall Criser and BOG member Matthew Carter both downplayed the seriousness of the problems that Rufus and Mangum have with each other in statements to the media this week. Criser brushed off the issue by saying that it was “noise around the edges.” Carter told a reporter that “I don’t think the relationship is broken.”

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Separate FSU budget for FAMU-FSU College of Engineering grows to $7M

The separate budget that Florida State University has for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) is continuing to grow. A WCTC-6 story on the COE from yesterday reported that “the budget is $12.9 million, plus $7 million from FSU that will be going to the joint college.”

That is up from last year. A Tallahassee Democrat article from 2014 reported that “the FSU budget is $5 million ‘and has been growing,’ [Dean Yaw Yeboah] said.” That money paid for 36 FSU professors in 2014. The separate FSU engineering budget was also referenced in the study that CBT University Consulting presented to the Florida Board of Governors earlier this year. The study said that there was “roughly $6 million within FSU that supports Joint College faculty and research.”

FSU receives money for its separate engineering budget in its general revenue from the Florida Legislature.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Alumni challenge Mangum’s claim that FAMU didn’t previously have budget control for COE

On July 21, FAMU Trustee Cleve Warren asked President Elmira Mangum if FAMU had controlled the budget for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) before the creation of the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council in 2015. The Joint College of Engineering Governance Council passed a resolution back on May 20 to shift the COE fiscal agent duties from FAMU to FSU.

“For clarity purposes, before the creation of this joint committee, did A&M have control of the budget?” Warren asked.

“My opinion would be that the dean controlled the expenditures of the College of Engineering; FAMU kept account of them,” Mangum said.

Trustee Kelvin Lawson, a FAMU alumnus, disagreed and said that FAMU had the “responsibility for managing the budget” in the past. He added that the management responsibility wasn’t limited to executing “joint decisions.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mangum likely to have few defenders left on FAMU Board of Trustees by January

The next round of term expirations on the FAMU Board of Trustees could make it even harder for Elmira Mangum to keep her administrative ship above water.

Back in April, Rufus Montgomery won the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees with a 9-4 victory against Cleve Warren. The vote count showed the split between the trustees who were supporters of Mangum and those who either want her gone or appear to be losing patience with her.

Rufus has been Mangum’s biggest headache on the Board of Trustees since her contract negotiations last year. He was a leader in the unsuccessful attempts to set her starting salary at $325,000 instead of the $425,000 she wanted and also to try to deny her a tenured position in the FAMU College of Education.

Mangum and Rufus went on to clash at Board of Trustees meetings with Rufus telling her during an August 11, 2014 conference call that the board could cut off her microphone. According to a Tallahassee Democrat article that ran later that month: “Reminded that Montgomery is closely affiliated with Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to FAMU’s board, Mangum responded: ‘What does that say about the people that appointed him?’”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mangum’s attempts to mend fences with Scott too little, too late

Gov. Rick Scott could make Elmira Mangum’s problems with the FAMU Board of Trustees go away with only a minimal amount of effort on his part. But she doesn’t have much of a chance of getting any help from him after what she said last year.

Back on August 23, 2014, the Tallahassee Democrat ran a story that included the following comments that Mangum made about Trustee Rufus Montgomery: “Reminded that Montgomery is closely affiliated with Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to FAMU’s board, Mangum responded: ‘What does that say about the people that appointed him?’”

Scott appointed Rufus to the FAMU Board of Trustees back in 2011. 

That statement to the Tallahassee Democrat might have seemed like a good idea to Mangum back when the polls were showing that Scott was in a neck-and-neck race with former Gov. Charlie Crist for the governorship. But Scott won his bid for reelection just over two months after that statement was published.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Criser memo in Tallahassee Democrat doesn’t mention separate FSU engineering budget

Last week, the Tallahassee Democrat ran a memo written by Florida Board of Governors (BOG) Chancellor Marshall Criser, III that discussed the recent changes at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). The memo defended the shift of the $12,996,539 core operating budget for the COE from the FAMU general revenue line item in the General Appropriations Act to a new budget entity entitled “FAMU/FSU College of Engineering.”

“Furthermore, the College’s shared financial structure is enhanced, not reduced, by the establishment of a separate appropriation category in the 2015-2016 General Appropriations Act,” Criser wrote. “The new category renews the College’s focus on its state’s investment and on its expenditures and is a crucial step toward establishing a College that truly operates in unison.”

But the memo as it appeared in the Democrat didn't mention that Florida State University still has a separate budget of more than $5 million that pays for about 38 FSU professors at the COE. That money is not part of the new “FAMU/FSU College of Engineering” budget entity that the BOG asked the legislature to put in the General Appropriations Act.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mangum defends FAMU’s diversity and Academic Opportunity Success students

In the Sunday edition of the Tallahassee Democrat, FAMU President Elmira Mangum defended the university’s diversity and Academy Opportunity Success students from criticism she received from members of the Florida Board of Governors.

From: “Q&A: Mangum says FAMU ‘committed to diversity’”:

Q: Did Board of Governors members catch the university off-guard by suggesting that FAMU diversify its student body population?

A: “No. The university is fully committed to diversity. One of the three investment strategies in our Work Plan is to broaden our student base.

This administration has visited Brazil, India, various African countries, and China as part of our efforts to broaden the base.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rufus defends his treatment of Mangum amid calls for BOG inquiry

Yesterday, FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Rufus Montgomery publicly defended his treatment of President Elmira Mangum since her hiring last year. The comments came after a group of FAMU alumni in the Florida Legislature said his interactions with her “are bordering dangerously close to bullying.”

“As the leader, I take responsibility for any valid criticisms for any decisions that the board makes,” Rufus said in an interview with WCTV-6. “But, in this case, we’ve yet to hear anyone successfully challenge the facts that were presented at the board meeting in question.”

At a June 10 board meeting, Rufus and other trustees blasted Mangum for allegedly failing to properly communicate with them and making other administrative decisions they felt were questionable.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Graham elected chair of FSA, becomes student representative on BOG

Last week, FAMU Student Body President Tonnette S. Graham became the new student representative on the Florida Board of Governors (BOG). She earned the position by virtue of her election as the chairwoman of the Florida Student Association (FSA).

Graham is now the official voice of the more than 330,000 students within the State University System (SUS) of Florida. She is also the first black woman to represent FSA on the BOG.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Absence of FSU appropriation from new budget entity shows “transparency” talk isn’t sincere

When a politician with John Thrasher’s level of ruthlessness asks for a major legislative change with vague language, you can bet that he has a trick up his sleeve. This can now be seen in the “deal” on the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Back on February 19, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) approved a proposal to ask the legislature to create a new budget entity for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. The plan said that the new budget entity would “include all operating funds for the Joint College, including the appropriate amount of plant operation and maintenance funds.”

“The thing that I think President [Elmira Mangum] and I have both agreed on and certainly with your staff is this, this, these changes, these changes that we’re talking about, the organizational changes, the transparency, the accountability, which are all in here, which you all, every one of you I know believe in, uh, frankly go back to making this a successful program for the students,” FSU President Thrasher told the BOG at that meeting.

Thrasher also told WCTV-6 that the BOG plan “creates a new opportunity for governance of the school as well as trying to isolate and put into a separate fund the resources that we get for the joint college.”

But despite what Thrasher said about “transparency” and putting “into a separate fund the resources that we get for the joint college,” millions of dollars that FSU receives for the College of Engineering are not in the new budget entity.