Showing posts with label flashback. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flashback. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

1973: HEW tells Florida to get rid of separate-but-equal in public higher ed or lose $70M

The Florida Capitol building in 1973
Back in 1973, the Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) told the State of Florida that it was still carrying out a separate-but-equal operation in its State University System. Federal officials said that if the state didn’t begin complying in honesty with Congressional laws that mandated the desegregation of higher education, then Florida would lose $70M in federal money.

A St. Petersburg Times article from 1973 reported that: “Florida has until April 8 to submit a plan to replace one rejected Nov. 13 or face the loss of about $70-million in federal funds, mostly research grants.”

If inflation is taken into account, that $70M from 1973 would be about $370M today.

The State of Florida avoided losing those tens of millions of federal dollars by entering into a desegregation consent decree with the HEW Civil Rights Office. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2002: Bill Jennings succeeds in denying FAMU a Melvin Stith presidency

Last spring, Melvin T. Stith retired from the deanship of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Throughout his nine years in that position, he brought in millions in new private donations and grant dollars.

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.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Badger must avoid same mistake Art Collins made during 2001 presidential search


Back in 2001, Art Collins defied Gov. Jeb Bush by winning the first FAMU trustees chairmanship race despite being pressured to let R.B. Holmes have the position. Collins seemed to think his election victory meant it would be easy for him to build enough support to seat a highly-qualified successor to President Frederick S. Humphries. But he underestimated R.B.’s desire for revenge.

On the night before the final vote in the selection process, the majority of trustees still supported Collins. There were more than enough votes for Charlie Nelms, the only candidate who had been the top executive of two universities, to become the ninth president of FAMU. Nelms had served as chancellor of Indiana University East and the University of Michigan at Flint before being selected to serve as vice-president for student development and diversity for the entire Indiana University system.

But the 11th hour shadiness that is still typical of FAMU Board of Trustees processes turned the presidential search into a train wreck. A lie that claimed there weren’t enough votes to seat Nelms was spread throughout that evening. By the end of the shenanigans on that night, Nelms had withdrawn his application.

When the board met for the presidential vote the next morning, the anti-Collins trustees smiled and laughed when the chairman had to announce that Nelms was out-of-the-running. A group of trustees that included R.B., Castell Bryant, and Jim Corbin then worked to fast track the selection of Fred Gainous to run FAMU.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2009: Marching 100 performs at Obama’s inauguration

The students in the suspending Marching 100 would be performing in Washington, DC today if it hadn’t been for the selfishness of the “Crossing Bus C” hazing participants.

Back in 2009, the FAMU band high-stepped at the inauguration of the country’s first African-American president. U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama smiled big and waved as the 100 treated them to the sounds of Kool & The Gang, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder.

The FAMU band had the distinction of being selected out of more than 400 applicants for the Inaugural Parade. But there was never any doubt that the Marching 100 had what it took to make the short list. When the 100 played at an April 15, 2007 campaign rally for Obama in Ybor City, Fla., he told the students: “This is the best introduction I have ever had.”

The Marching 100's performance at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

FAMU has had 6 presidencies in nearly 11 years

Last week, FAMU celebrated its 125th anniversary with a Founders Day address by former President Frederick S. Humphries. Humphries was in charge of FAMU for 16 years. But since his retirement, there have been six presidencies in almost 11 years.

The individuals who have served as FAMU’s president on a permanent or interim basis since Humphries’ retirement have been: Henry Lewis (January 2002-June 2002); Fred Gainous (July 2002-December 2004); Castell Bryant (January 2005-May 2007); Larry Robinson (May 2007-June 2007); James H. Ammons (July 2007-July 2012); and Larry Robinson (July 2012-present).

Ever since Humphries left, there have been two individuals who’ve served as the biggest sources of consistency at the university. They are Larry Robinson and Bill Jennings.

Robinson has been a champion for the faculty members who have led the fight to keep FAMU’s doors open over the last decade. The longest-serving trustee, Jennings, has been an ally of those who have brought constant harm to the university since 2001 and kept FAMU from having any form of stability in Lee Hall.

Jennings made sure to jump up in front of the news cameras and shake Robinson’s hand when the Board of Trustees confirmed his appointment as interim president on August 15th. But the two men have not have had a smooth relationship over the past 10 years because Robinson has refused to be an unquestioning yes-man for the Florida governor’s office like Jennings is.

Monday, June 18, 2012

2002: Gary describes how D’Alemberte administration failed to protect Darling

Back in 2001, 18-year old Florida State University (FSU) football player Devaughn Darling died while trying to finish a workout session conducted by the school. His parents hired Attorney Willie Gary to represent them in their civil case against the university, which was then led by President Sandy D’Alemberte.

The lawsuit Gary filed on behalf of the Darling family stated that even though FSU coaches knew about the young man’s “exhaustion and difficulty standing, they forced him to continue” a set of physical conditioning drills. It added that “prior to being sent back to start the mat drills over again, Devaughn Darling was holding his chest, complaining of pain and stated he could not see.”

A St. Petersburg Times article listed the major points in Gary’s description of how the FSU administration failed to protect Darling. He said FSU declined to fulfill its duty to operate a “reasonably safe” conditioning program by:

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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

1997: UF president calls Herbert an Oreo

Back during a Christmas party he hosted on Dec. 16, 1997, University of Florida (UF) President John V. Lombardi called University of North Florida President Adam Herbert an “Oreo.”

When one guest asked him what the Nabisco cookie reference meant, Lombardi said he’d used the term to describe how Herbert, then an applicant for the chancellorship of the State University System of Florida (SUS), was “black on the outside and white on the inside.”

Lombardi actually used the “Oreo” term as a compliment. He said Herbert was a potential chancellor who would be able to work with whites in a very effective manner.

Herbert, who did become chancellor, recommended that Lombardi keep his job despite the remark. He then turned his attention to his Three Tier Plan proposal. The chancellor wanted FAMU to be a bottom tier “comprehensive” university that would focus mainly on teaching undergraduate students. FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries and then Provost James H. Ammons led the fight to create a special “Comprehensive/Doctoral” category that permitted the university to continue pursuing its Ph.D. expansion ambitions.

Today, Herbert’s name continues to circulate as a possible replacement for Ammons, FAMU’s current president. The argument being used by those interested in Herbert seems to focus on Ammons’ unpopularity with the Florida Board of Governors (BOG). It is being said that FAMU needs a president who can get along with them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Jennings aiding attack on Ammons like he aided attack on Humphries


If you ever want to know where Bill Jennings stands on a FAMU issue, the best place to ask is the Florida Governor’s Office. In his nearly 12 years on the FAMU Board of Trustees Jennings has always done exactly what the incumbent governor wanted him to do without regard for how it might harm his own alma mater.

Back in 2001, Jennings was the top sidekick of Jeb Bush crony Jim Corbin as he attacked former President Frederick S. Humphries. In 2012, Jennings is now working side-by-side with Rick Scott crony Rufus Montgomery to fulfill the governor’s goal of seating a new FAMU president who is more to his liking.

Humphries was appointed president in 1985 during the governorship of Democrat Bob Graham. He became a rising star in the Democratic Party during the two terms of Gov. Lawton Chiles. The Clinton White House loved Humphries. In July 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton asked Humphries to run for Florida education commissioner (which was still an elected position at that time), but Humphries respectfully declined.

Monday, December 12, 2011

2007: Hazing victim blasts Alston in news report

Last week, FAMU Trustee Torey Alston introduced the motion to reprimand President James H. Ammons during the Board of Trustees meeting. Alston said Ammons did not do enough to communicate with trustees following the November 19 death of Marching 100 drum major Robert D. Champion, which has a suspected link to hazing.

Alston is no stranger to FAMU hazing controversies. In 2007, he was publicly criticized by a victim of hazing.

Former FAMU student Marcus Jones, who attempted to join the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi while Alston was the chapter president, was paddled with wooden canes and punched during unauthorized rituals.

Jones did not directly accuse Alston of participating in the hazing. But he did mention Alston’s name in an account of the early stage of the pledging process that he told the St. Petersburg Times:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Halftime USA circa 1968 features Marching 100

Thanks to that big video vault in the sky --YouTube-- we're able to bring you this piece of FAMU and Marching 100 history, the 1968 Paramount Pictures film Halftime U.S.A. The film was produced on the heels of the civil rights movement and Paramount likely took great risk to include a marching band from a historically black college in it.

The 100rd opens the film and is included at about the 7 minute mark.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DRS supporters rally to rescue school, 2010-2011

February 22, 2010

A Rattler Nation report points out on how dirty politics on the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) might be playing a role in protecting Developmental Research School (DRS) Superintendent Ronald Holmes.

Not long after Trustee R.B. Holmes threw his support behind Trustee Bill Jennings’ 2009 reelection bid for the board chairmanship, word spreads on campus that there’s an understanding that R.B.’s brother (Ronald) will not be summoned before the BOT to answer tough questions about the increasingly bad situation at DRS.

Jennings fails to call the DRS superintendent before the BOT for any type of public questioning throughout the remainder of Ronald's tenure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Holmes crisis begins at DRS, 2007-2010

Today and tomorrow, Rattler Nation will take a look back at the Holmes years at FAMU’s Developmental Research School (DRS).

December 31, 2007

The FAMU Board of Trustees votes to approve a three-year contract for Ronald Holmes, the newly hired DRS superintendent and brother of Trustee R.B. Holmes, Jr. Ronald’s salary is $110,000, annually.

Many Rattlers openly question whether President James H. Ammons actually had a choice when it came to the hiring decision. There was no doubt that as one of the seven critical votes that Ammons needed to become FAMU’s president, R.B. had the power to twist Ammons’ arm and make personal demands during the selection process.

Ronald had no experience as the chief administrator of any K-12 school.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Ammons’ DRS crisis parallels Gainous’ AD problem

FAMU President James Ammons’ administration has been wounded by two big problems that also hurt his predecessor, Fred Gainous. Those problems are: bad trustees and Rattlers who seem determined to help those bad trustees shift all blame to Lee Hall.

Back in 2004, thousands of FAMU supporters signed a petition calling for Gainous’ removal. The first two charges against the president read:

“1. Allowed others to make a decision about FAMU football that bought dishonor and ridicule to one the nation’s greatest athletic traditions as a result of a decision to move to Division 1-A without a due diligence report on the merits of such a move.”

“2. Abandoned his responsibilities on behalf of the athletic program that allowed a $2.8 million surplus to be squandered, leaving the athletic budget with a deficit of more than $700,000 to begin the 2004-2005 academic year.”

FAMUans knew who was behind the athletic department mess: Board of Trustees Chairman James Corbin. Corbin admitted to the Tallahassee Democrat that he “suggested” that Gainous hire his friend J.R.E. Lee, III as interim athletic director. The chairman also pulled the strings which led to the 1-A fiasco.

However, after Gainous was fired, most of the individuals who signed the petition did not join the public fight for Corbin’s removal. They simply sat back passively and let Corbin continue to do as he pleased on the BOT.

Corbin and his buddies Bill Jennings and R.B. Holmes, Jr. collaborated to bring Castell Bryant in as the interim president. Everyone knows what happened next…

The public lobbying campaign for Corbin’s removal (which succeeded in 2005) never attracted the same level of support in Rattler Country as the petition for Gainous’ firing.

There are many FAMUans who simply have no interest in holding the BOT accountable. Any time there is a problem on campus, they will blame the president and no one else. It doesn’t matter how many signs of trustee micromanagement are in plain sight. These individuals will still say it is all the president’s fault and ignore the bad trustees.

Holmes and Jennings are taking advantage of the “blame the president only” tendency in Rattler Country, today. When confronted with questions about whether a trustee had micromanaged the hiring process for FAMU DRS’ superintendent, they denied all knowledge and pointed their fingers at Ammons.

Rattlers must ask themselves: “If FAMU trustees know that most of us will just blame the president for any and all administrative problems (even those which seem to be associated with trustee micromanagement), can we really be surprised when we continue to see hiring decisions that benefit trustees’ friends and family members?”

People tend to be very bold about doing the wrong thing when they know they can get away with it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

1987: FAMU-USF architecture school opens in Tampa

The University of South Florida loves to use FAMU's professional schools as a model for building its own.

In 2007, USF hired Kevin Snead, a FAMU professor, to lead its newly created Division of Clinical Pharmacy. The university also announced that Snead will serve as dean of its proposed pharmacy school. USF plans to build a College of Pharmacy that will match FAMU’s in size, operational funding, and research dollars.

This isn’t the first time USF has needed FAMU’s help to launch a new academic program. Back in 1987, FAMU actually launched USF’s architecture school.

The Board of Regents voted to establish an architecture school at FAMU in 1974 as part of Florida’s desegregation settlement with the U.S. Department of Education. It began as a cooperative program between FAMU and the University of Florida’s College of Architecture until it earned accreditation.

The BOR originally tried to put FAMU’s architecture school at USF. That way, it would be a HBCU school in name but a USF school in effect. However, President Benjamin L. Perry, Jr. fought to have the school built on FAMU’s campus in Tallahassee.

In 1986, the BOR went ahead with its plans to give USF an architecture school under FAMU’s name by ordering FAMU to start a second “joint” program with USF in Tampa. The "joint" program enrolled its first students in fall 1987.

The “joint” collaboration quickly ran into trouble with the National Architectural Accreditation Board. The board hinted that it might not accredit the Tampa program because the "joint" management structure was "hazy" and it wasn't clear which university did what. President Frederick S. Humphries and Provost Richard Hogg told the St. Petersburg Times that FAMU was fully capable of running the Tampa architecture school all by itself.

A group of Tampa architects threatened to yank $110,000 they’d raised for endowed professorships at the school unless the BOR agreed to kick FAMU out of the shared program.

USF eventually got its wish for an independent architecture school, thanks to FAMU’s help in getting the program started.

Pictured: FAMU School of Architecture building in Tallahassee, 1986.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2005: Wright compares Castell’s critics to crack dealers

Back in 2005 the Rev. Joseph T. Wright, pastor of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, wrote an angy letter to the Tallahassee Democrat complaining about the “verbal abuse by some so-called ‘intellectual’ professors” against then-FAMU Interim President Castell Bryant.

“What is the difference in watching a gang-banger sell crack to children versus listening to educated adults use sophisticated, well-polished words to attack their boss and openly attempt to discredit her authority?” Wright wrote.

Wright must have slept through his high school civics classes. Otherwise, he’d know the answer to his own question. Freedom of speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Selling crack is not.

The reverend went on to say that any employee who publicly expressed a problem with one of Bryant’s decisions should leave FAMU. This came after Castell had destroyed the recruitment program and trampled over shared governance.

“When you desire to openly criticize your boss, please first resign and don’t bring reproach or embarrassment to the institution that butters your bread and has educated your children,” he said.

Wright added that “maybe it is time to encourage the students to boycott the classes of some professors who advocate this type of gang-banger behavior.”

Ironically, Wright later supported disgraced Rev. Henry J. Lyons’ 2009 bid for re-election to the presidency of the National Baptist Convention, USA. Lyons served five years in prison for defrauding the convention’s corporate donors out of $5.2M. He used the money to buy luxury homes and jewelry and support his mistresses.

So let’s get this straight: Castell and Lyons are good role models, but professors who exercise their constitutional rights are demonstrating “gang-banger behavior?”

It looks like Wright is the one who needs to stay far away from FAMU’s students.

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.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2004: City promises FAMU Way won’t become a cut-through

Back in 2004, City Commissioner Andrew Gillum (a FAMU alumnus) and Assistant City Manager Michael Wright promised FAMU’s Board of Trustees the proposed FAMU Way extension won’t be designed as a cut-through to relieve other areas of traffic.

The project involves extending FAMU Way between Lake Bradford Road and South Monroe Street. The current concept is for a two-lane road that would include a bicycle / pedestrian path, sidewalks, on-street parking and other amenities such as a linear park, stormwater runoff controls and coordination with the Blueprint 2000 Capital Cascades Trail network.

According to Wright “there is no intention to [make] this into a four-lane road or thru-way.” He emphasized that “the road is not intended to be a cut-through street.”

Gillum added that “the road would never become more than two lanes. He noted that the University may include language that suggests expansion of the two lanes not be permissible without FAMU’s approval.”

Trustees also inquired about providing additional transportation for students along the road and creating a slow done zone in the vicinity of the New Beginnings Daycare Center. That day, the BOT approved the FAMU Way extension concept.

Currently, the proposed route runs directly south of the St. Augustine Branch, the small waterway that runs within the canal just north of the existing portion of FAMU Way, south of Railroad Square and along the north edge of the neighborhood. The proposed route connects on the west to Lake Bradford Road (at approximately the intersection of Lake Bradford Road and Jackson Bluff Road) and ties into the eastern end of the current FAMU Way, which extends on to South Adams Street.

The cost for the entire project is estimated at $50 million. City staffers will be recommending that the project be done in phases. Funding is currently available for the section from Lake Bradford Road to the eastern edge of the FAMU Campus (approximately Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.), which would reduce the cost to approximately $25 million.

To read the minutes of the April 13, 2004 BOT discussion on this project, click here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

1983: Smith debates T.K. on merger


Back in 1983, President Walter Smith defended FAMU against a merger bill introduced by State Rep. T.K. Wetherell (D-Allandale).

The two men debated the issue at the Tallahassee Tiger Bay Club.

T.K. said race had nothing to do with his bill and used language very similar to those who currently claim that America is a “post-racial” nation.

“I don’t believe it is a racial issue,” T.K. told the crowd. “I believe we are beyond that.”

He said that having FAMU and FSU operating side-by-side “ain’t the most efficient way to run the system in Tallahassee.”

In 2007, T.K. used another “efficiency” argument when he tried to help FSU get 100 percent control of the joint College of Engineering it runs with FAMU. He said FSU would be better at managing the money. T.K. conveniently ignored the fact that FAMU had 24 years of clean financial statement audits until trustees and administrators supported by then-Gov. Jeb Bush wrecked the day-to-day financial operations.

Smith said that the merger was an attack on FAMU’s proud heritage and continuing value.

“It’s necessary to realize that the culture and history of black people are as important as the culture and history of any other people in this state,” Smith told the audience.

He also stated that: “It is foolhardy to toy with the institution in this state that does the best job of producing black leaders and education black boys and girls.”

Smith pointed out that FAMU ranked third in America in preparing blacks for doctorates.

Currently, FAMU tops all American public universities in producing black undergraduates who go on to earn Ph.D.s.

T.K.’s 1983 effort to merge FAMU and FSU fell flat, just like his recent attempts to take over the E-College.

Read the full article here.

Pictured: Students outside Jackson-Davis Hall in the 1980s.