Showing posts with label Castell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castell. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

2007: Maxwell fails to fact check Castell's inaccurate information about student scholars

The inaccurate information that former FAMU Interim President Castell Bryant spread about a cohort of National Achievement Scholars and Semifinalists that came to the university in 1997 just won’t go away. It’s now become a topic of discussion in the unofficial “FAMU Alumni” page on Facebook.

“I think Dr. [Frederick S. Humphries] is probably one of the most effective recruiters I have ever known. And the fact that he was able to recruit all those black national merit scholars to FAMU is actually phenomenal,” Castell said in a 2007 interview with the St. Petersburg Times columnist Bill Maxwell. “During some semesters, he recruited more black merit scholars than Harvard. The sad part is that most of the students did not graduate from FAMU. In fact, at one point, only 12 out of a cohort of 84 National Merit Scholars graduated.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Suspicions of administrative interference with internal auditor not new at FAMU

On Oct. 21, FAMU Vice-President for Audit and Compliance Rick Givens wrote the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) to report “potential interference with the work of Audit & Compliance.” Givens was in the middle of looking into questions from the Florida auditor general about spending on the campus President’s House when he received an email from FAMU Vice-President for Finance and Administration Dale Cassidy that led him to send that notice to the BOT.

This isn’t the first time that there have been suspicions of administrative interference with the duties of the FAMU internal auditor.

Monday, June 29, 2015

2007: FAMU trustees rebuff Castell’s decision to support shift of COE fiscal agent duties to FSU

Back in 2007, the FAMU Board of Trustees took action after the interim president chose to go along with a change that was inconsistent with a university policy.

FAMU’s policy for the past 28 years has been that it wants to serve as the fiscal agent/budget manager of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). That was established by a 1987 agreement between FAMU and FSU that received the approval of the Board of Regents, which was the policy-making body for both of the universities at the time. The FAMU Board of Trustees adopted that policy when the Florida law made it the new policy-making body for the university in 2001.

But six years later, Interim President Castell V. Bryant said she had no problem with a legislative plan to transfer the COE fiscal agent/budget manager duties from FAMU to FSU. A Tallahassee Democrat article from March 30, 2007 stated that “after discussing it with [FSU President T.K. Wetherell], she said she was fine with the change.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tampa Bay Times editorial board glorifies Castell while demanding that Ammons leave

In the least surprising news of the day, the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) called for the departure of FAMU President James H. Ammons while praising the “good ole days” of former Interim President Castell Bryant.

The only shocking thing about the editorial is that the Times board doesn’t seem to remember that it’s made its intense dislike of Ammons obvious ever since he was appointed in 2007. The Times editorial board had a borderline hatred of former FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries and wasn’t happy when Ammons, the former provost and vice-president for academic affairs of the Humphries years, became the tenth president of the university.

The Times editorial board used Castell as its example of a model FAMU leader while bashing Ammons. “As interim FAMU president in 2005, Castell Bryant tried to ensure only FAMU students played in the band,” it wrote.

The editorial board still won’t acknowledge that Castell almost destroyed the Marching 100 by nearly destroying FAMU. It refuses to criticize her for getting the worse audits in school history and nearly costing FAMU its accreditation. Come to think of it, the Times editorial still hasn’t taken Gov. Rick Scott to task for threatening FAMU’s accreditation, either.

Ammons hasn’t lost the support of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. He never had its support in the first place.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rattlers must stop second coming of Castell

If Rufus Montgomery and Rick Scott succeed in pressuring the FAMU Board of Trustees to suspend President James H. Ammons on Monday, you can bet that the next motion before the board will be to hire Barbara Barnes as interim president, effective immediately.

Rattlers fought too hard to get rid of the original Castell Bryant to now let a Castell clone take control of Lee Hall.

Barnes was the back-up choice for most of the Jeb Bush-appointed trustees on the “transition committee” who banded together in 2004 to bring Castell in as interim president. There is little chance that she would have gotten their support if she had not been willing to follow the same harmful agenda that Castell did.

Montgomery, a former hired hand of Jeb, is now at FAMU doing the will of Jeb-buddy Rick Scott rather than what is right for his own alma mater. It looks like Scott has finally stepped into the fight to push Ammons out of FAMU because Montgomery failed to get the job done on his own back on December 8.

Scott has said that he knew nothing about any threat of FAMU being merged with Florida State University. But if FAMU gets another weak interim president like Castell, the university will have a hard time defending itself from anything FSU might try, like taking complete control of the joint College of Engineering in Innovation Park.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Castell has Gabordi's ear

The former FAMU interim president who nearly drove the university into the ground is currently a telephone pal of Bob Gabordi, executive editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.

In the print version of the Saturday, December 10 Democrat, Gabordi wrote: "As editor of the daily newspaper in Tallahassee, I can tell you I've spoken more to his predecessor Castell Bryant in recent weeks than with [President James] Ammons. Say whatever else you want about Bryant, she knew how to get her message across.  And she sure knew how to dial a phone or answer one when it rings."

Gabordi is absolutely right that Castell “knew how to get her message across.” She knew how to persuade editorial boards to print information about FAMU that did not square with the facts.

Castell has serious problems with the truth. She told the state’s newspapers that she created an $8M surplus and then basked in their editorial praises. But when the state auditors took an objective look at her financial books, they found that the “surplus” was nothing but a fairy tale. There was really a $10.4 million deficit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jennings receiving back-up from his old pro-Castell allies

Now that Bill Jennings is experiencing embarrassing setbacks in his power struggle against the FAMU president, two individuals who helped him protect Castell V. Bryant for years are lending him some back-up.

Former FAMU General Counsel Elizabeth McBride and former Trustee W. George Allen are following Jennings’ lead by publicly voicing their personal bitterness about President James H. Ammons’ employment agreement.

Tensions have been high between Jennings and Ammons for more than a year. As Rattler Nation previously reported, it appears that Jennings’ ego got bruised because he was seemingly receiving the lame duck treatment as he headed toward the end of his final term as Board of Trustees chairman and continues toward the end of his appointment (January 6, 2013).

Jennings’ attack on the super-majority clause in Ammons’ contract suffered a big setback weeks ago when trustees discovered that Jennings’ ally Karl E. White had his facts wrong on the issue. Back at the August 4, 2011 board meeting, White said it was his understanding that Ammons was the only State University of System of Florida (SUS) president whose contract requires a super-majority vote for termination. But the board's Ad Hoc Committee found that there are other SUS presidents who have the same types of super-majority clauses, including Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders.

McBride and Allen are now jumping into the Jennings-led contractual fight.

McBride was general counsel at FAMU from 2004 to 2007. During her tenure, FAMU coughed up well over a hundred thousand dollars in wrongful termination case settlement costs. She recently told the Chronicle of Higher Education about her “heated” talks with Ammons’ attorney back when his contract was being negotiated in 2007. According to the Chronicle, “she advised the university's trustees against the ‘evergreen’ provision.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jennings treating Ammons’ bonus very differently from Castell’s

Heads are shaking all over Rattler Country in response to the fact that Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Jennings has taken a position on President James H. Ammons’ bonus that is very different from the one he took on former Interim President Castell V. Bryant’s.

At the September 23, 2010 board meeting, Jennings confirmed that he planned to meet with Ammons to discuss “restructuring” the bonus clause of the president’s contract. Jennings never asked for any changes in Castell’s bonus clause despite everything she did to nearly run FAMU into the ground.

Jennings negotiates bonus clause for Ammons

Jennings negotiated the bonus clause in Ammons’s contract back in 2007. The clause states: “Based upon his achievement of annual goals and objectives…Dr. Ammons shall receive an annual performance bonus. It is intended that said annual performance bonus shall be in the range of 25% to 35% of the annual base salary.”

Ammons’ base salary is $325,000 per year. In 2009, he accepted a 35 percent, or $113,750 bonus. It was based on his achievement of objectives such as restoring clean financial statement audits to FAMU and getting the university off probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Ammons gave 50 percent of his bonus to the FAMU National Alumni Association.

The president accepted a $81,000 or 25 percent bonus in 2010. That bonus came six months after Ammons led FAMU to a ten-year reaffirmation of its SACS accreditation. In voting to award the bonus at the minimum 25 percent level, trustees said the decision was not a criticism of Ammons’ performance but a response to the tough economic situation that FAMU faces.

Jennings stays quiet about Castell's bonus

Jennings was absent from the board meeting on December 1, 2005 when trustees voted to give Castell a $35,000 bonus and a contract extension of two years. But he never publicly raised any objection to those decisions. On March 2, 2006, Jennings actually made the formal request for trustees to grant Castell a $50,000 raise, which was approved. The pay increase took Castell’s total salary up to $300,000.

The $35,000 bonus and raise $50,000 raise, totaling $85,000, were primarily based on Castell’s claim that she created an $8M surplus in 2004-2005 and straightened out the financial books.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Former Castell lawyer wants PBCSB chief counsel job

The former general counsel who served Interim President Castell V. Bryant as FAMU coughed up well over a hundred thousand dollars for wrongful termination case settlement costs now wants to be the top lawyer for the Palm Beach County School Board.

Elizabeth McBride will interview for the chief counsel position on Wednesday, June 22. She is currently an associate counsel for the board. McBride held the general counsel position at FAMU from 2004 to 2007.

The McBride résumé that is posted on the Palm Beach County School District’s website says that she “proposed and implemented a compliance and audit unit approved by the President and Board of Trustees, including the adoption of a compliance and audit charter by the Board of Trustees” while she was the general counsel at FAMU.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

2005: Castell kills flu lab proposal

On her path toward nearly destroying the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, former Interim President Castell Bryant also blocked a proposal that seemed like an issue of common sense: creating an influenza lab and vaccination production plant at FAMU.

The flu lab was proposed by Professor Henry Lewis, who had recently stepped down as pharmacy dean. With the nation facing shortages in flu vaccine doses, he envisioned FAMU as future leader in battling this problem.

Castell made every excuse she could to derail the proposal. She gave newspapers lame and misleading statements claiming that she had not received any detailed information about the proposed lab.

After killing flu lab proposal, Castell also ignored the pharmacy faculty’s warnings about how her mismanagement was jeopardizing the school’s accreditation. Bryant failed to release operating dollars that school needed and refused to spend legislative money that had been appropriated for building new research and laboratory space.

In February 2007, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education placed FAMU’s pharmacy college on probation.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Castell out as Cookman VPAA next week

It looks like Bethune-Cookman University isn’t giving “professional interim” Castell Bryant the same extended stay she enjoyed at FAMU. Castell is out as B-CU’s interim vice-president of academic affairs on August 13th.

Her replacement will be Sarah Williams, chair of Prairie View A&M University’s Department of Social Work and Sociology. Williams earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin. She also holds a Master of Social Work degree from The University of Houston.

Castell’s hiring was a bizarre development to many who are familiar with her record. Bryant came to B-CU with distinguished experience in attracting bad audits, wasting money, failing to pay employees on time, and blocking recruitment efforts. Currently, Cookman is experiencing an enrollment decline.

Cookman Rebel, a blogger who leads an online social networking site that’s seeking leadership change at B-CU, called Bryant the top “hatchet woman” of President Trudie Kibbe Reed and described her as “a very nasty old lady who abuses her power, uses individuals, and destroys the careers of those who stand in her way.”

There’s no word yet on whether Castell will continue in another administrative or faculty position at the school.

Currently, Cookman Rebel’s site is encouraging B-CU supporters to submit formal complaints against Reed’s administration to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits the university.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cookman rebels!

The blogger “Cookman Rebel” describes herself as a mother of two who’s worked for Bethune-Cookman University for seven years. She admits that she’s usually passive at her workplace, doing what she’s told when she’s told.

But lately, she hasn’t been able to sleep at night because she feels B-CU “is basically being run like a plantation.” That’s led her to speak out.

On her Ning social networking website, Cookman Rebel, she and a growing group of B-CU supporters pull no punches. They accuse President Trudie Kibbe Reed of hiring incompetent administrators, unfairly dismissing employees who stand up to her, trying to dismantle the School of Social Sciences, and endangering the entire university’s accreditation.

The blog posts identify Vice-President of Academic Affairs Castell Bryant (FAMU’s former interim president), as Reed’s top “hatchet woman.” Cookman Rebel calls her “a very nasty old lady who abuses her power, uses individuals, and destroys the careers of those who stand in her way.”

The site encourages all the registered members to share every detail they can about any wrongdoing committed by the administration.

Cookman Rebel says that next: “We plan to contact the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools, American Association of University Professors, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, The University Senate of the United Methodist Church, US & FL Departments of Education, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, various media outlets, and any other options available to save the University.”

Check out the site here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

B-CU lays off 30; keeps Castell

Bethune-Cookman University considers the woman who nearly wrecked FAMU’s accreditation to be a valuable part of its leadership team.

Administrators recently announced their decision to axe 30 employees, 4.7 percent of the total workforce. Interim Vice-President for Academic Affairs Castell Bryant is not on the pink slip list.

Bryant came to B-CU with distinguished experience in attracting bad audits, wasting money, failing to pay employees on time, and blocking recruitment efforts. Currently, Cookman is experiencing an enrollment decline.

B-CU leaders continue to seek Castell’s advice on “eliminating inefficiencies.”

To protect administrators like Castell, B-CU has implemented other cost-saving measures that include: freezing hiring and salary increases for faculty and staff, ensuring that all full-time professors are teaching full course loads, conserving energy, and cutting operating budgets across departments.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Opinion: Audit rebuffs Bryant-Maxwell version of financial story


Shortly after Castell Bryant resigned from FAMU’s interim presidency in humiliation, St. Petersbugh Times columnist Bill Maxwell tried to help her explain away the damage she inflicted on the university’s finances.

In a 2007 interview entitled “Opening up on FAMU,” he asked:
“A state operational audit released this year cited 35 management problems, doubling the number of findings under your predecessor, Fred Gainous. Even under [Frederick S.] Humphries, auditors routinely reported only five or six operational problems. How do you explain the drastic increase?”

Castell responded with spin, claiming that the state audits had become harder during her tenure:

“When the constitutional amendment was passed and each university received a board of trustees, the approach for auditing each of the universities changed. It is my understanding that at the same time some accounting procedures and requirements also changed. Therefore, the audits are different since the changes.”


Following Castell’s lead, Maxwell portrayed the former interim president’s chief financial officer, Grace Ali, as a talented financial manager that new President James Ammons should revere as a source of wisdom.

While interviewing Ammons, Maxwell declared: “The rumor is that you haven't you spoken with Castell Bryant and her chief financial officer about FAMU's problems.”


Ammons, who relieved Ali of her duties on his first day in office, said it wasn’t true.


Recent events have shown that Ammons made a smart choice in keeping a safe distance from Castell’s former vice-president of fiscal affairs. Ali just lost her job as CFO of the Miami-Dade public school system amid allegations of financial mismanagement. District officials said her “creative accounting” directly contributed to $70 million of the system’s $125 million deficit.

Now that Ammons’ first operational audit is out, it’s clearer than ever that Castell’s excuses don’t hold up. Less than two years after inheriting 35 findings from Bryant and Ali, Ammons’ finanical team managed to shrink that number down to seven – one fifth of what it was.

FAMU has gone from having the largest number of operational audit findings in the State University System under Castell to one of the very smallest numbers under Ammons.

Bottom line: When an institution hires accountants who actually know what they're doing, it's not difficult to perform well on state audits. Competent employees will meet the legal and professional standards. Period.

Amazing Grace: Ali resigns from Miami-Dade post


The witch who just won’t go away

Monday, December 22, 2008

Amazing Grace: Ali resigns from Miami-Dade post

The woman who served as former FAMU Interim President Castell Bryant’s “go-to” person on accounting recently left another financial administration job under a cloud of controversy.

Grace Ali, controller and later vice-president of fiscal affairs during the Castell years, held the position of chief financial officer for the Miami-Dade school district for just over 12 months. She was part of the administration of former Superintendent Rudy Crew, who stepped down in September amid allegations that included poor financial management.

According to current Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, $70 million of the district’s $125 million deficit resulted from “human error” on the part of the staffers who handled the budget. (Sound familiar ???)

Richard Hinds, the district’s retired CFO who returned to replace Ali, added sharper criticism. He informed the school board that Ali and former Deputy Superintendent for Business Operations Ofelia San Pedro used “creative accounting” in an attempt to balance the financial books. (Again: we've been down this road before.)

While Ali 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 Ali’s watch.

Ali persistently blamed past FAMU financial officials for the problems she faced. Nonetheless, President James Ammons relieved Ali of her duties on his first day in office and brought back V.K. Sharma and Marie Shetty, two former employees who had managed FAMU’s books for more than two decades.

Just six months later, Sharma and Shetty helped new CFO Theresa Hardee land an unqualified state audit.

There's no word yet on whether Bethune-Cookman University President Trudie Kibbe Reed has offered Ali employment.

You might have missed: Ali hired at Miami-Dade

Ali cooks up FAMU surplus, auditors sez not so

FAMU’s books un-auditable

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can B-CU really afford Castell Bryant?


Bethune-Cookman University has not publicly commented on how large a salary it’s giving to newly-hired Interim Vice-President for Academic Affairs Castell Bryant. However, the “incidental” and “employment hazard” costs of Bryant’s tenure could be much more than the six-figure number that B-CU likely budgeted.

FAMU’s still paying a high price for the damage left by the former interim president. And, the total continues to go up almost every month.


The latest bill is a $1.5 million settlement that FAMU owes to Booth Properties for a housing contract that Castell asked the Board of Trustees to break in 2005.

And don’t forget the other items on her tab:

A $10.4 million deficit for the FYE 2005.


$4.7 million paid to KPMG for financial bookkeeping that landed FAMU’s first qualified state audits.

$4.3 million to pay four consulting companies that had worked without contracts.


Millions lost as a result the enrollment decline that followed Castell’s decision to stop recruiting students.


Looks like B-CU might be in for a very bumpy, financial ride.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bill Hayes, the new Castell

Just when the FAMU family thought it had rid itself of foul mouthed, heavy handed administrators who don't have the common sense to recognize that the light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming train -- in steps new Athletic Director Bill Hayes.

Hayes, it seems, is an honors graduate of the Castell Bryant School of Management.

In less than a year, he seems to have pissed off every single FAMU constituency group.

AD at odds with Volleyball Coach

Now it seems that Hayes is sparring with Volleyball Coach Tony Trifonov who's team has racked up 99 consecutive victories against MEAC opponents before falling to SC State this year. At issue is Trifonov's recruitment methods which rely heavily on players from eastern Europe. In the past 12 seasons Trifonov's teams have won eight consecutive titles and made nine trips to the NCAA tournament. Trifonov's formula has been successful, now Hayes wants to change all that limiting him to recruit only in Florida.

“It is very expensive to recruit U.S. players because you have to evaluate them, see them play in high school or go to a club tournament,” Trifonov said. “When you don’t have money to go make a visit, of course you’re not going to be able to recruit them.”

The four players he wanted this season are from Peru, Serbia and China. They were recruited by word-of-mouth, he added.

Trifonov isn't the only coach at odds with Hayes. Others are dissatisfied with the AD , but are afraid to speak on the record.
According to staff, Hayes has frequently been known to publicly berate them in the most profanity laced tirades.

You might also be interested in: Hayes enjoys FAMU

Hayes' fence idea struck down

Hayes plans improvements

Hayes tells fans the free ride is over

Thursday, December 04, 2008

B-CU’s president breaks silence on why she hired Castell

First, there were reports that Castell Bryant was seen mingling in Bethune-Cookman University’s sky box during the Orlando Classic.

Then, B-CU updated its webpage to reveal that it had, indeed, hired Castell as interim vice-president of academic affairs.

Still, more than a week went by without any explanation for the decision that shocked many throughout the HBCU world.

That changed on Tuesday, when B-CU President Trudie Kibbe Reed finally delivered her first public comments about why she hired FAMU’s former interim head.

"Dr. Bryant is an experienced administrator whose commitment to excellence in higher education is unparalleled," Reed told reporters. "She will be able to hit the ground running as we prepare for a series of important accreditation visits."

B-CU is preparing to seek reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, scheduled for 2010.

Daytona News-Journal reporter Mark Harper subtly pointed to the irony of Castell’s appointment. She was hired to help B-CU satisfy SACS requirements even though she left FAMU on probation with that same accrediting body.

Harper also made the assertion that Bryant "inherited a school that was beset with financial problems, some of which were resolved during her tenure.” However, no list of “resolved” financial problems was included in the article.

Castell’s administration was responsible for the first and only qualified state audits in FAMU’s history. The audits proved that Bryant, who was hired to help FAMU’s financial division, left it in worse shape.

B-CU’s VP of academic affairs post has been a revolving door. The university has had four different individuals in that position in four years.

Cookman hires Castell as interim-VP

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cookman hires Castell as interim-VP

After a one year hiatus, Castell Bryant has reemerged on Florida's academic scene as interim VP of Academic Affairs at Bethune-Cookman University. Bryant has built her career in higher education as a "professional interim", having served as interim president of Florida Memorial, interim president of FAMU, and now an interim at BCU.

Mrs. Bryant's lack of tact and management skills made her easily one of the most controversial figures in FAMU history, When interim president Castell Bryant left not only did she demoralize the the student body and faculty, but she left FAMU in pretty bad shape.

Not surprisingly, Castell V. Bryant quit less than two months before our 10th president, James Ammons, was to arrive. That move was incomprehensible - how do you weather the storm for 2 years and quit right before your time expires anyway?

Castell's parting shots
Unsurprisingly, a bitter Bryant went on the attack by putting her alma mater on blast in the an in St. Petersburg Times.

"I'll give FAMU students a 2," she said. (On a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the best) "But that's awful because we accept them and we could help more be successful."

"Bryant lacked the appropriate skills and abilities to lead a four-year university. No where else in the state would the Board of Governors have allowed such an under skilled and underdeveloped academician to take the reigns of a university like Florida A&M, unless the ultimate goal was certain destruction," said Monique Gillum, former SGA President.

“Her day has come and gone," Gillum added.

New job at Bethune
Apparently, Mrs. Bryant ran out of westerns or Trudie Kibbie Reed needs a heartless scapegoat to run off some folks from B-CU.

For this hire, we're gonna refer Trudie Reed one of my favorite websites for some guidance.

Also see: Millions withheld from FAMU Law

FAMU still paying for Bryant's sins

Bryant's surprise leaves FAMU with $4.3m tab