Stith’s huge success as a fundraiser and grant-raiser at Syracuse was no surprise. Prior to becoming Whitman’s dean in 2005, he led the Florida State University (FSU) College of Business for 13 years. According to the Central New York Business Journal, “During his tenure [at FSU], Stith increased the school's endowment from $8 million to $55 million, expanded the number of endowed chairs to nine, built an all-wireless 12,000-square-foot technology center, made the school a leader in graduating minority doctoral candidates, and guided a $79.5 million fundraising campaign for the business school.”
FAMU had a chance to hire Stith as its ninth president in 2002. A proud alumnus of Norfolk State University, Stith wanted to lead the nation’s largest single campus historically black university. During his campus interviews, he talked about his desire to use his connections in Wall Street to help expand the FAMU endowment. He also wanted to build more research programs at the university.
But Bill Jennings, chairman of the Board of Trustees presidential search committee, and the board members who thought like him led the charge to deny FAMU a Melvin Stith presidency.