Showing posts with label opinions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opinions. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

“New budget entity” for College of Engineering a bad idea with Thrasher at FSU

The $10.9M operations budget for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering could be permanently removed from FAMU’s general revenue appropriation this legislative session unless the university’s Board of Trustees acts to stop it from happening.

FAMU currently receives the annual $10.9M legislative appropriation that pays for the maintenance needs and plant operations of the College of Engineering in its general revenue funds. That money also pays the salaries of 23 FAMU professors and 27 Florida State University professors. FSU receives a separate appropriation of $5M in its general revenue budget that pays for another 36 professors. A report by the Capital News Service stated that the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) wants to change this so that “funding from lawmakers will go directly to the school instead of both universities.”

On Thursday, February 19, the BOG voted to approve a proposal entitled “Commitment to Guiding Principles and a Plan of Action for the FAMU-FSU Joint College of Engineering.” It states that: “The creation of a new budget entity for the Joint College will be pursued during the 2015 legislative session, to include all operating funds for the Joint College, including the appropriate amount of plant operation and maintenance funds.”

Friday, February 20, 2015

$10.9M engineering college appropriation in FAMU’s budget should be left alone

Despite an Associated Press article that reported an announcement by the chancellor of the State University System of Florida that “an agreement has been reached” on the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, the FAMU Board of Trustees has not voted to support any changes to the program. The FAMU trustees should not give their backing to the Board of Governors’ (BOG) plan to ask the Florida Legislature to create “a new budget entity” to receive the college’s operating funds.

On Thursday, February 19, the BOG voted to approve a proposal entitled “Commitment to Guiding Principles and a Plan of Action for the FAMU-FSU Joint College of Engineering.” It states that: “The creation of a new budget entity for the Joint College will be pursued during the 2015 legislative session, to include all operating funds for the Joint College, including the appropriate amount of plant operation and maintenance funds.”

Monday, January 05, 2015

Humphries: Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity unacceptable

Frederick S. Humphries, the eighth president of FAMU, recently addressed Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity in the following opinion piece for REACH Media’s BlackAmericaWeb:

A recent editorial in The New York Times on ways to improve the cultural and ethnic diversity of Silicon Valley showed the extent to which this issue has moved to the forefront of the national consciousness. This is with good reason. In this day and age, it is simply unacceptable for a thriving industry to ignore the growing ethnic and cultural diversity that will define the 21st century.

The controversy over Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity has grown on one misstep after another, all of which reveal how Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other high-tech companies are completely out of sync with the modern workforce. For years, these companies refused to release their diversity data. When pressure from outside groups became too difficult to bear, Google became the first company to release statistics. Over the subsequent months, other tech giants followed suit.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Columnist: “Winslow has built an insular fiefdom”

David Whitley, a journalist who covered FAMU sports in his earlier reporting career, weighed in on FAMU’s ongoing athletics leadership controversy in a column for the Orlando Sentinel.

From: “FAMU’s problems loom over Florida Classic”:

FAMU undoubtedly needs rebranding and fresh thinking, but few schools are as steeped in as much tradition. Rudy Hubbard coached the Rattlers to an unbeaten football season in 1977 and the Division I-AA championship in 1978.

I covered the program 10 years later, and Hubbard would joke that he still couldn't win over the old guard, which lamented that he didn't run the program up to former football coach Jake Gaither's standards.

Gaither, Bob Hayes, Althea Gibson and Willie Galimore sprang from the golden sports era of pre-integration at FAMU. The school is rightly proud of its heritage, but the nostalgia Hubbard battled is still a prickly issue.

The old guard has to be approached with tact and deference. [Athletics Director Kellen Winslow] came into FAMU swinging a sledgehammer.

"It's broken. It can't be fixed," he said of the athletic department. "Tear it down, start over and build it the right way."

Winslow had a hard task to begin with. Infuriating the FAMU establishment might have made it impossible.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Charlie Crist victory will end current gubernatorial attack on FAMU

Carole Crist, Ramon Alexander, Charlie Crist, and Daryl Parks
Over the past four years, FAMU has been under constant attack from a gubernatorial administration that is hostile to the university. Today is Rattler Country’s chance to strike back and put a big injection of venom in Gov. Rick Scott’s reelection campaign.

Gov. Rick Scott has jeopardized FAMU’s accreditation, attempted to bully the Board of Trustees, and shown disrespect to FAMU students.

Scott has also used his veto power to take away three line items that the Florida Legislature voted to give FAMU. He vetoed $2M for Infrastructure/Capital Renewal and $500,000 that would have saved the John A. Mulrennan, Sr. Public Health Entomology Research and Education Center in Panama City in 2011. He also vetoed $1.5M for the Crestview Education Center in 2012.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Humphries: FAMU family must step up to secure university’s future

Frederick S. Humphries, the eighth president of FAMU, shared the following message with the FAMU family on his official Facebook page on November 2, 2014:

As we close out this 2014 homecoming weekend, I will make some observations about the university and where we are today and what I personally believe has to happen. I have heard that some believe that the world has changed since I was president and that I may be out of touch with how to promote the university successfully and attract the necessary resources to sustain our alma mater. All due respect to those persons, but I disagree. When it comes to the "meat and potatoes" of FAMU and it relevancy to the fabric of American Higher Education the fundamentals have not changed.

My view:

1. It is critical that all persons in leadership must have a fundamental appreciation and respect for our history, the special role that FAMU plays, and the unique dynamics that it must navigate to be successful in a landscape that does not want FAMU to succeed and is actively seeking to starve the university to death. One cannot adopt a model that is successful at a predominantly white institution (PWI) and just drop that model into FAMU and expect it to work without significant amounts of nuance and finesse. Any notion of: “I'm from a PWI, I get it, the current and former university community doesn't” – is arrogant, inherently naïve, and will fail. The stakes are too high to not be thoughtful in every action that FAMU administrators and employees take.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winslow puts his foot in his mouth, again, with childish remarks to student-athletes

Back in June, new FAMU athletic director Kellen Winslow showed his ignorance of the recent history of FAMU’s athletics department in a set of comments he made before the 220 Quarterback Club.

“It’s broken,” Winslow said of the FAMU athletics department. “It can’t be fixed. Tear it down, start over build it the right way.”

The statement showed that Winslow had not taken the time to find out what really happed to the athletics division.

Twelve years ago, FAMU had one of the best financially-managed athletic departments among all the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. Ken Riley, who started serving as FAMU’s athletic director in 1994, left the department with an estimated surplus of more than $3M when he stepped down in 2002.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mangum: FAMU’s Crestview campus fulfilling mission to help Northwest Florida’s families

FAMU Crestview pharmacy students during a community service project
In a recent op-ed published by the Pensacola News Journal, FAMU President Elmira Mangum touted how the university’s Crestview campus is making a difference in Northwest Florida.

The opinion piece appeared shortly after the Crestview Bulletin highlighted a community service project led by students at the FAMU pharmacy school’s Crestview center.

From the FAMU president’s op-ed:

On Friday, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) will celebrate its 127th anniversary. This marks an important time in the university’s history. We are celebrating more than a century of providing affordable access to education for Floridians, holding true to our founding mission as an 1890 land-grant institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, resolution of complex issues, and the empowerment of citizens and communities.

Just over two years ago, FAMU expanded its mission into the Pensacola area after opening the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Crestview Instructional Center. Currently, the center provides an opportunity for more than 70 future pharmacists, many of whom are from Escambia County and low-wealth families. Students receive training from FAMU’s nationally renowned faculty, as well as an opportunity to translate the knowledge they gain into careers that focus on community service.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

FSU trustees send Thrasher back into ring with Mangum, giving him power of presidency

Last spring, Elmira Mangum led the way in defending FAMU against state Sen. John Thrasher’s attack against the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. It now looks like that was just the first round. Mangum will need to put on her gloves back on again soon to go toe-to-toe with “President Thrasher.”

Yesterday, the Florida State University Board of Trustees chose Thrasher as the university’s next president. The selection appears to be an indirect endorsement of the crooked tactics he has used to try and break the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering apart.

Back during the legislative session, Thrasher led an unsuccessful effort to split the joint E-College and give Florida State University $13M to begin the process of creating a separate college. He said the change would be beneficial to FAMU, which would now have an engineering college all-to-itself.

Thrasher’s words did not fool Mangum. She shot back by stating her opposition and informing the legislature of the full cost required to provide FAMU with a top-rate, independent engineering college. Mangum said that it would take $100M to construct a brand new engineering college on the university’s main campus and an additional $5M in new recurring dollars (the amount necessary to replace all of the FSU faculty who would leave).

When Thrasher refused to offer one cent towards those costs, it proved that his plan was an attempt to weaken FAMU's engineering programs, just as many Rattlers had thought. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Editorial: 10 for $10 Challenge a model for university giving

Cecka Rose Green celebrating the FAMU football coaching staff's 10 for $10 donations
Yesterday, the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board applauded FAMU alumna Cecka Rose Green’s innovative 10 for $10 Challenge. The fundraising drive has raised $77,225 for the FAMU Foundation.

From the editorial: “In for 10 (dollars)”:

Most people believe that one of the hardest things to do is to ask others for money to help support a particular cause.

Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum should be glad that perception didn’t deter Cecka Rose Green.

Instead, Ms. Green, who graduated from FAMU in 1991, initiated a campaign drive last month for her university with a simple challenge: “10 for $10.” The goal is to get one person to donate $10 and then challenge 10 others to do the same.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Carroll: “I gave [Rick Scott] 100 percent of my loyalty” only to be “betrayed”

FAMU honors Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll for keynoting its 2012 Black History Month Convocation
Last year, a Rattler Nation editorial remarked that Jennifer Carroll’s resignation as lieutenant governor was “just another example of how [Gov. Rick Scott] requires 100 percent loyalty from his appointees while demanding that they expect none in return.”

The editorial added that: “She defended his integrity when questions were raised about his embarrassing financial past as the head of Columbia/HCA. Scott rewarded Carroll’s loyalty by kicking her to the curb in the wake of an alleged scam that pales in comparison to the one that led to his exit from the health care company he ran years ago.”

It looks like there’s someone else who shares this view: Jennifer Carroll.

Carroll opened up about her years as lieutenant governor in a May radio interview.

“I gave him 100 percent of my loyalty, even though we didn’t know each other prior to running, and he had his issues with HCA and Medicaid fraud,” she said. “I never asked him a question about that. Never.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

BOG has no standing to lecture state universities about shady executive searches

BOG Chairman Mori Hosseini with fellow board members
The FAMU presidential search process was bad, but the one at Florida State University has been plain ugly.

At least the individuals who attempted to ruin the search for FAMU’s 11th president had enough shame to pretend like they weren’t trying to do so. FSU’s presidential search committee seemed ready to simply fast track state Sen. John E. Thrasher into the job before faculty and student protests and negative editorials pressured it to back down.

Now, members of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) are using the FSU controversy and embarrassing showdown over FAMU President Elmira Mangum’s contract as excuses to help them claim more control over future presidential search processes at public universities. BOG Chairman Mori Hosseini says there should be more BOG members on presidential selection committees.

Shady searches for top executives have become a serious problem in the State University System of Florida (SUS). And the BOG’s two most recent chancellorship searches offer some of the best examples.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Tampa Bay Times editorial: Scott tosses scraps at public universities that are still starving

From the editorial “Scott's budget vetoes reflect re-election campaign, not conservative values” by the Tampa Bay Times:

Turns out that in an election year, Gov. Rick Scott doesn't mind spending taxpayer money. The governor on Monday signed into law the largest state budget ever while vetoing the smallest amount of spending since taking office. That leaves in place hundreds of millions in legislative special projects, many of which never received a full public vetting. This is a budget grounded more in Scott's re-election campaign than in his professed fiscal conservatism.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Blackburn: NCAA penalizing FAMU with unfair standards that fail to consider financial resource gap

A recent op-ed by Tallahassee Democrat senior writer Doug Blackburn explains why it’s unfair for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to penalize colleges such as FAMU, which have relatively small athletic budgets, for not meeting the same Academic Progress Rate as schools that have much more money to spend.

From the op-ed “Tone deaf NCAA deals FAMU a low blow”:

Florida A&M University's two prime-time sports programs suffered a low blow a couple of weeks back when the NCAA ruled that the Rattlers' football and men's basketball teams will be banned from post-season competition during 2014-2015.

Student-athletes on those teams did not satisfy the APR (Academic Progress Rate) standards the NCAA instituted 10 years ago.

Shame on the NCAA for being tone deaf in a surround-sound world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Proctor: Thrasher presidency would hurt FAMU, tarnish FSU’s reputation

In a recent Tallahassee Democrat op-ed, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor detailed how a presidency at Florida State University would tarnish that school’s reputation and hurt FAMU.
John E. Thrasher

From Proctor’s op-ed:

Speaking for my constituents in Leon County, we are alarmed, stunned and aghast that state Sen. John Thrasher looms as Florida State University’s president-in-waiting. Sen. Thrasher disrespects and has demonstrated ill will toward current and future Florida A&M University students. His name generates ill will across many pockets.

There could be no more divisive and polarizing figure than this former chairman of Florida’s Republican Party to become FSU’s president. Has the FSU presidency become a Lotto grab available to the highest political bidder under the province of Florida’s Republican Party? Speaking for my constituents, we believe the Florida State University Board of Trustees should distance this university from a red-hot political polarizer and the domain of a conservative political party.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Possible Thrasher presidency at FSU expands threat against tenure in SUS

Ever since Gov. Rick Scott came to Tallahassee, FAMU and the University of Florida have been the two biggest battle sites in the war over the future of tenure in the State University System of Florida (SUS). But now, John E. Thrasher’s candidacy for the Florida State University presidency has brought the anti-tenure threat to that school’s doorstep.

Thrasher, chairman of Scott’s reelection campaign, is a state senator who championed the governor’s bill to get rid of tenure in the state’s K-12 schools. Jennifer Proffitt, president of the FSU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, explained why that is problem.

“Proffitt said faculty are concerned about Thrasher’s lack of experience within higher education administration and might be wary of him since he pushed for a state bill to eliminate tenure for new public school teachers in favor of a merit-based system,” the Florida Times-Union reported.

Those who want to eliminate tenure in higher education often claim that it isn’t “merit-based.” But the website of FSU’s own provost takes that point to task.

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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bill Proctor: Thrasher’s proposal doesn’t include a penny for FAMU

A Tallahassee Democrat op-ed by Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor called attention to the fact that Sen. John Thrasher’s proposal to split the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering doesn’t include any new money to help FAMU build an independent program. FSU controls the money that pays for 36 members of the current college’s faculty and Thrasher hasn’t offered one cent for FAMU to conduct faculty replacement hiring for those positions.

If FAMU doesn’t receive the money to replace all of the FSU faculty members who leave during the split, then it might not be able to meet the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) accreditation requirements for all of the current degree programs.

From Proctor’s op-ed:

Sen. John Thrasher declares his budget amendment to separate the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering would strengthen Florida State’s stride toward becoming a Top 25 public (taxpayer-supported) university.

Like Gov. George Wallace, why are Thrasher and the Senate, legislatively speaking, standing in the doorway of the College of Engineering and decreeing that FAMU students cannot come in? In effect, Thrasher and the senators want FAMU’s students to get out and stay out of engineering sciences at FSU. Does “pre-eminence” mean that students from a black school are not welcome to tag along and mess up the white members-only society?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Montford loud in seeking Rattler votes, but quiet on threat to FAMU’s engineering programs

State Sen. Bill Montford in the 2013 FAMU Homecoming Parade
State Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, hasn’t been shy about asking for Rattler votes. When homecoming season rolls around, he’s quick to put on Orange & Green clothes, wave at FAMU fans during the downtown parade, and tell everyone how much he cares about the university.

This has helped his political career. Back during his reelection bid in 2012, the FAMU Grand Ballroom precinct (#1309) contributed 1930 votes to his victory. The Florida State University campus precinct at Salley Hall (#2503) only gave him 553 votes.

But despite all of his talk about wanting to look out for FAMU, Montford was very quiet during the recent Florida Senate debate over the future of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Engineering college split stands to violate Florida’s consent decree with USDOE Office of Civil Rights

Back during the 1970s, the federal government gave Florida and a number of other states a choice. They could either start complying in honesty with Congressional laws that mandated the desegregation of higher education or pay the consequences. Those consequences included a loss of eligibility for millions in federal education funding.

The State of Florida avoided those possible federal penalties by entering into a desegregation consent decree with the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. During the 1980s, it moved to fulfill part of that consent decree by agreeing to fully fund an engineering school at FAMU. FAMU had received authorization to open an engineering school back in 1949, but had not received a sufficient level of monetary support from the state.

Florida State University also wanted an engineering school at the time and successfully lobbied to be part of the one at FAMU. That led to the creation of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

A proposal by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, now threatens to place Florida in violation of the federal consent decree, which is currently enforced by the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.