Showing posts with label media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tampa Bay Times editorial board rips Thrasher’s attack on FAMU-FSU College of Engineering

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board joined the Tallahassee Democrat’s in blasting state Sen. John Thrasher’s attack on the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

From the editorial “Another higher ed power play”:

Florida taxpayers already are paying for one engineering school in Tallahassee, and they should not have to pay for two. A sudden plan to dismantle the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and create separate schools is a power play by an influential state senator and Florida State University alumnus to hand FSU its own engineering school. This is another example of the Legislature letting raw politics rather than sound policy rule higher education.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, an FSU alumnus and a potential candidate for the university's presidency, set aside $13 million in the Senate budget to begin the process of dismantling the engineering college and creating separate colleges for each university.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Gabordi: Thrasher needs to stop singing the old separate-but-equal song

Tallahassee Democrat Executive Editor Bob Gabordi had some sharp words for state Sen. John Thrasher, who is attempting to split the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. Thrasher’s proposal, which doesn’t include any money to help FAMU secure enough faculty members to run an independent engineering school, could destroy FAMU’s engineering programs.

From Gabordi’s blog:

Separate, but equal: We’ve heard that song before.

Now we’re hearing that same old refrain from St. Augustine Republican Sen. John Thrasher, who is pushing to separate the combined Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering that has existed for more than three decades.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Tallahassee Democrat editorial: “Attack on engineering school stinks”

From the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board on Friday, April 4:

On Wednesday evening, state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, offered a surprise amendment to the state’s budget that would let Florida State University end its 30-year involvement with FAMU in their joint College of Engineering and start to plan for its own engineering school.

On Thursday, senators approved the amendment by a voice vote. And Florida A&M alumni and supporters had the same sick feeling they experienced in the mid-1960s, when the state took away the university’s law school in favor of FSU’s.

The timing and the process of this latest move stink.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tallahassee Democrat editorial: Robinson should be FAMU’s 11th president

On Sunday, the Tallahassee Democrat’s editorial board urged the FAMU Board of Trustees to change Larry Robinson’s title from interim president to permanent president.

Even though the editorial board said that board members should pass “a motion allowing Dr. Robinson to apply for the position,” such a motion isn’t necessary. The board’s own records show that FAMU trustees never voted to restrict Robinson from being appointed to serve as the university’s 11th president.

From the editorial: “Robinson should be FAMU's next president”

Florida A&M University’s board of trustees has set an ambitious goal of naming the university’s 11th president by Jan. 9, the same week that classes begin for the spring semester.

It is hard to believe that the search will uncover a more qualified candidate than Larry Robinson who has served as interim president at FAMU for the past 18 months.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

1967 Orange Blossom Classic featured as cover story in American Airlines Magazine

The historic 1967 Orange Blossom Classic between FAMU and Grambling University is the cover story of the November 15 issue of American Airlines’ publication, American Way.

Written by Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times columnist and author of the book Breaking the Line, the article describes how two rival football teams, with two star quarterbacks under the leadership of two legendary coaches revolutionized college sports and transformed the NFL. FAMU coach Jake Gaither with quarterback Ken Riley, along with Grambling’s Eddie Robinson and James Harris made a profound difference in how America finally came to appreciate the talent of black athletes.  For a 30-year period, the Orange Blossom Classic football game in Miami was the most important annual sporting event and the largest annual gathering of any kind for African Americans.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

BOG’s poor audit results prove it lacks competence to assess FAMU’s audit division

BOG Vice-Chairman Morteza Hosseini (center)
BOG Chairman Dean Colson (left)
Yesterday, the Tallahassee Democrat published an article about the Florida Board of Governor’s praise for a corrective action plan submitted by FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson. The document responded to a 2012 review by former BOG Inspector General Derry Harper. Harper directed heavy criticism against FAMU’s Division of Audit and Compliance (DAC).

The article stated: “The tenor of Thursday’s meeting was markedly different from June 2012, when James H. Ammons was FAMU president and Robinson served as provost. At that meeting, FAMU’s annual work plan was essentially deemed unacceptable by BOG members.”

But once again, the Tallahassee Democrat declined to inform its readers about a 2013 state audit that essentially found the state of the BOG inspector general’s office to be unacceptable.

David W. Martin, the Florida auditor general, scolded the BOG for “noncompliance with statutory requirements” in a quality assessment review of its inspector general’s office. He declared the office to be out-of-compliance with Florida law for its failure to issue any audit reports for more than four years. Another serious finding blasted the BOG for failing to provide verification that Harper had the educational qualifications required by Florida law.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Florida reporters continue to give BOG a pass on accountability

Note: This story is part three of the Rattler Nation special report on “The Implosion of Brogan’s IG Office.”

Back when Derry Harper, former inspector general for the Florida Board of Governors (BOG), released a report that criticized FAMU for permitting ineligible students to march with its band, reporters across the state jumped to put it in the news.

Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout typed up a story that ran with the headline: “Hazing rules ignored before death at FAMU.” The Orlando Sentinel wrote “State report blasts FAMU’s effort to fight hazing before Champion’s death.” The Tallahassee Democrat published an article that said “BOG report is critical of FAMU.”

But Fineout, the Sentinel, and the Democrat haven’t made a peep about the Florida auditor general’s finding that the BOG failed to verify that Harper had the legally required eligibility qualifications for his own job.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Orlando Sentinel changes top newsroom editor and opinions editor

Avido Khahaifa
FAMU J-School alumnus appointed to lead newsroom

The Orlando Sentinel, which has an editorial board that recently demanded an overhaul of FAMU’s senior administration, has undergone a sweeping set of leadership changes of its own.

On August 7, Orlando Sentinel Publisher Howard Greenberg announced that the newspaper had parted ways with its top newsroom editor, Mark Russell. Russell, a University of Missouri graduate, managed the paper’s day-to-day affairs for three years.

Greenberg transferred Russell’s former duties to Avido Khahaifa, senior vice president and director of content. Khahaifa is an alumnus of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (formerly Journalism, Media, & Graphic Arts). The former FAMUan editor received the Thelma Thurston Gorham Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.

The Orlando Sentinel also made a major shake-up to its editorial board. Mike Lafferty, an alumnus of the University of Central Florida, is out as the opinions editor. The newspaper reassigned him to another editing job.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tallahassee Democrat, Orlando Sentinel express confidence in Sylvester Young

Last week, two Florida editorial boards gave strong votes of confidence to Sylvester Young, FAMU’s new director of bands. They applauded Interim President Larry Robinson for selecting an experienced music professor and a tough disciplinarian to rebuild the Marching 100.

“Dr. Robinson deserves credit for taking charge of the situation and taking the appropriate steps to hire additional staff to help oversee band operations,” the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board wrote. “By hiring Mr. Young he is bringing in a seasoned, no-nonsense musician and band director who has experienced a successful career in directing and managing marching bands.”

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board also praised Young’s return to The Hill.

“Hiring Sylvester Young as the new band director is another plus,” the Sentinel editorial board wrote. “He’s a FAMU alumnus and former Marching 100 trombone player. He’s a strong leader who’s led bands at two other historically black universities. He understands the culture of hazing and his vital role in putting an end to it.”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Robinson: “Myopic snapshots” create misleading picture of FAMU

Interim President Larry Robinson’s latest op-ed urged Floridians to look past the “myopic snapshots” of FAMU in the headlines and consider the full picture. He says that when FAMU is viewed with an “objective lens,” it becomes clear that FAMU is strong shape both academically and financially.

From Robinson’s op-ed in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel entitled “Florida AM University's legacy is one of improving lives, community:”

Over the past 18 months, Florida A&M University has become an institution of national interest for a lot of the wrong reasons. But as the media repeatedly asked what went wrong at FAMU and focused on unflattering news stories, it may have been easy for the general public to miss more prominent yet less told stories of what goes right at FAMU.

Great things happen at FAMU every day making the university a major asset for the state, region and the nation. For over 125 years, FAMU has been critical to enhancing the lives of citizens and remains critical to fostering thriving communities of the future.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Robinson: FAMU is on strong financial and academic footing

In Sunday’s Tallahassee Democrat, FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson provided a long list of the stories “behind the headlines.” He highlighted the university’s six clean state financial audits and its continuing achievements in the area of doctoral education.

From the op-ed: “Great things keep happening at FAMU”:

When students enroll at Florida A&M University, we enter into a pact. When public and private funds are provided to support our students and operations, we are committed to effective stewardship.

Our team — the faculty, staff and administration — agree to provide inspirational teaching, character-building, extracurricular experiences and a safe and stimulating environment in which students can learn and grow. In return, our students accept the challenge of cultivating a strong knowledge base built upon the foundation of our core values to become successful adults. They accept the challenge of pushing themselves to improve their own lives and the livelihoods of their communities.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sun-Sentinel editorial board blasts FAMU for suspending presidential search, refuses to criticize UF for aborting its search

Antonio Fins, editorial page editor of the Sun-Sentinel
The editorial board of the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale has declined to criticize the University of Florida for aborting its presidential search and keeping Bernie Machen in charge. But yesterday, it attacked FAMU for suspending its presidential search and keeping Larry Robinson in charge.

UF Board of Trustees Chairman David Brown released a statement on January 8 that announced the cancelation of the search for a new university president. He explained that President Bernie Machen, who had submitted his resignation, had a change of heart and decided to stay. Machen’s reversal was largely due to Gov. Rick Scott’s personal request for him to remain at the university and his promise to support UF’s goal of becoming a top ten public university.

The Sun-Sentinel published an editorial about the issue seven days later. It didn’t include one word of disapproval about UF’s decision to shut down its presidential search and keep the president that it said it was going to replace.

“It’s a surprise that Machen agreed to stay,” the Sun-Sentinel editorial board wrote. “He says we’ll understand his decision better in a few weeks when the governor releases his budget. Whatever the governor promised, it’s good for higher education in Florida.”

The Sun-Sentinel editorial board struck a very different tone after FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Chuck Badger announced that the search for the university’s 11th president had been suspended.

Monday, February 18, 2013

FAMU’s transparency undercut Fineout’s attempt to paint distorted picture

Back when the FAMU College of Law reached Destination Accreditation in 2009, many Florida newspaper readers were confused. The St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, had used lots of ink to try and convince the citizens of the state that FAMU Law was doing a poor job preparing its students for the Florida bar.

A Times article in 2008 said that “FAMU…has the lowest bar passage rate, with a little more than half of the students passing.” The article only mentioned the first-try passage rates. It ignored the fact that FAMU’s overall passage rate stood between 70 and 81 percent during the years of 2005 through 2007.

The Times consistently left FAMU’s overall bar passage rates out of its coverage. That’s why many readers were shocked to find out that FAMU had satisfied the American Bar Association’s (ABA) bar passage rate standard in 2009. The ABA requires a 75 percent overall passage rate and FAMU Law was at 77 percent when it earned full accreditation.

The FAMU interim administration made the wise move of posting the latest ABA report on FAMU Law on the university website last week at the same time that it sent out a press release on the issue. When Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout tried to use the ABA report to paint a distorted picture of FAMU Law’s bar passage progress, Rattlers already had the full facts.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fineout article omits FAMU Law’s 82.97% overall bar passage rate

The FAMU College of Law has achieved an overall bar passage rate that exceeds the rate that the American Bar Association (ABA) requires for accreditation. But you won’t read about that in the recent article written by Associated Press (AP) reporter Gary Fineout that appears on the Miami Herald website.

The ABA Accreditation Committee released a preliminary report from a site evaluation team visit to the FAMU law school during March 25-28, 2012. Fineout rushed to put a negatively slanted article on the document on the AP wire.

Fineout wrote that “the 31-page report points out that 30 percent of the students admitted either do not graduate the school or do not pass the bar exam.” That information came from finding #59 on page 17 of the report. But Fineout’s article, as it appeared on the Miami Herald’s website, declined to mention the information from finding #58 on that same page.

FAMU reported updated data to the ABA after receiving its Florida Bar passage results from February and July 2012. According to the report, that “revised the number of non-persisters/never attempted to 53 of 694 graduates, or 7.6%.” Fineout’s article ignored that information.

FAMU’s 2007-2011 overall bar passage rate was 79.04 percent based upon the data from the site visit. It went up to 82.97 percent after FAMU submitted the updated data.

A 75 percent overall bar passage rate meets the requirements explained in Interpretation 301-6 of the ABA accreditation standards.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Former FAMUan editors launch “Ink and Fangs”

A group of former student editors of The FAMUan have launched a news blog entitled "Ink and Fangs." It has stories that were likely slated to appear in the first edition of the student newspaper for Spring 2013.

The FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (SJGC) postponed the first spring edition of The FAMUan in the wake of a libel lawsuit against the university and the student newspaper.

The lawsuit, filed by former Marching 100 drum major Keon Hollis, says that The FAMUan hurt his reputation by incorrectly reporting on Dec. 3, 2011 that he was among four students whom FAMU expelled in connection to the hazing death of band member Robert Champion. The FAMUan amended the article later that day by removing Hollis' name and stating that it "unable to confirm the name of the fourth student."

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Tampa Bay Times editorial omits facts, makes off-the-wall allegations

The latest Tampa Bay Times editorial on FAMU is filled with the same types of distortions that the Times’ opinions staff used to print against the university’s College of Law.

The Times begins a Jan. 5, 2013 editorial by referencing the Florida Board of Governors’ (BOG) preliminary report on the FAMU anti-hazing program. It then goes on to claim that “FAMU officials turned a blind eye to the hazing,” as if that was one of the findings from the BOG investigation.

But of course, the editorial board omitted BOG Inspector General Derry Harper’s statement that “From 2007 to 2011, the FAMU Police Department investigated 17 alleged criminal hazing violations.”

The editorial board knew it could not explain how FAMU could conduct regular criminal investigations into reported hazing at the same time it was somehow turning “a blind eye” to hazing. So the editorial board simply declined to mention FAMU’s 17 criminal probes into hazing allegations at the school.

A recent Associated Press article reported that “Many police investigations into hazing [at FAMU] went nowhere because students stonewalled and refused to cooperate.”

But the Times editorial board would rather have people think that FAMU looked the other way and basically ignored alleged hazing. It wants its readers to believe that there “was a culture of de facto FAMU-sanctioned violence” despite the fact that FAMU tried to get criminal charges filed against students who reportedly engaged in hazing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SACS decision serious, but no cause for panic

Any time the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) puts a university on notice, it is serious business. But FAMU is already more than 50 percent finished fixing the key problems that SACS flagged as areas of concern. The decision to place FAMU on a one-year probation simply means that the university will need to provide thorough updates to the accrediting body as it completes its corrective plans.

Even though SACS did not name any specific university programs when it sanctioned FAMU, Interim President Larry Robinson told the Orlando Sentinel that he thinks the Marching 100 is a big concern for the accrediting body. FAMU will need to report back to SACS about what it’s doing to make sure that students are as safe as possible. It will also need to explain how it’s enforcing rules governing student eligibility for university events.

FAMU has already placed the Marching 100 on an indefinite suspension following the Nov. 19, 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. The university is also expanding the number of staffers who will work to fight hazing across the campus. They will include an anti-hazing special assistant to the president and additional personnel in the Office of Judicial Affairs who will adjudicate cases of alleged hazing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Incoming freshmen: Biases and stereotypes don't change FAMU's academic quality

Malcolm Barnes, Jordan Smith, and Stephen Whitted are three students who entered FAMU this fall as Presidential Distinguished Scholarship Award recipients. They told the Florida Times-Union that the biased viewpoints and stereotypes that are used to attack Florida's only public historically black university cannot change the facts concerning FAMU's academic quality.

From their op-ed entitled: "FAMU attracts bright scholars":

We are three incoming college freshmen who each scored in the top 5 percent of all students in the United States on PSAT/SAT.

We are entering Florida A&M University this fall as Distinguished Scholars.

When we tell people where we’ll be attending college, they have responded in one of four ways: total shock/disbelief, half-hearted interest with an underlying tone of disapproval, concern for our safety or the audacity to pop the question “Isn’t that an HBCU?” as if the fact that a school is a historically black college or university automatically lowers the quality of the education and services.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

FAMU Law’s first-try bar passage rate continues its upward climb

The FAMU College of Law’s Academic Success and Bar Preparation continues to get results. The college’s July 2012 first-try Florida Bar examination passage rate was 68.1 percent, up from 65.5 percent in February 2012.

The 68.1 percent first-try passage rate is the highest since the reestablished FAMU law school opened in 2002. Back in July 2008, the school had a 67.9 percent first-try passage rate.

A news article by Orlando Sentinel reporter Denise-Marie Ordway stated that: “More than 30 percent of the students entering the FAMU law school do not graduate or pass the Florida Bar exam, even after multiple attempts.” But Ordway failed to specify the year(s) for that data.

Many FAMU law students take the bar exam two to three times before passing. For example, in its early years, FAMU Law had the following overall passage rates: June 2005, 70.6 percent; February 2006, 71.4 percent; July 2006, 70.3 percent; February 2007, 70.9 percent; and July 2007, 81.3 percent.

A 75 percent overall bar passage rate meets the requirements of the American Bar Association (ABA). By the time the ABA made its ruling on whether to grant FAMU Law full accreditation in 2009, the school had an overall passage rate of 77 percent.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FDLE investigation fails to show that FAMU was in a financial crisis

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) probe into the Marching 100’s finances ended anticlimactically last week. The investigation found some sloppy practices involving per diem payments and cash deposits in the band, but nothing that warranted criminal charges against any Marching 100 staffer. One university official outside of the band was charged for allegedly receiving $1,800 through bogus travel reimbursements.

The issue with per diem payments to dozens of non-students was already old news before the FDLE report was released. Back in May, then-President James H. Ammons announced that an internal review of Marching 100 documents found that 101 ineligible individuals were on the Fall 2012 roster. The university also acknowledged that the band administration had given many of them per diem dollars.

The FDLE reported that "a total of seventy-nine (79) of the individuals who received per diem were not, in fact, registered students of the University." It did not include an estimated grand total for the per diem funds.

Another section of the report found that ex-Director of Bands Julian E. White “failed to report the theft of the band dues to FAMU Police Department for approximately three (3) months after the theft was discovered. Statements from witnesses indicated that the amount of the stolen funds was $30,000 to $40,000. The funds consisted of cash, personal checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks. In Mr. White’s report to the FAMU Police Department, he stated that only $12,000 in cash was stolen.”

Those issues all needed to be addressed. But the FDLE did not find that any laws were broken in those cases. Its conclusion stated that there were breeches of university-level rules.

The Tallahassee Democrat's editorial board has depicted the FDLE's findings as proof that "Things were very wrong at Florida A&M."

The most serious issue in the FDLE report involved an estimated $40,000. The Democrat's editorial board members did not write that "things were very wrong" at Florida State University (FSU) when an internal audit showed that the construction manager for the Student Success Building "billed and the University paid $60,000 of questionable salary expenses."