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

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Senior “leadership” of FAMU Office of Communications taking division backwards

The FAMU Office of Communications used to be a very reliable and well-run administrative division. But its new senior “leadership” is taking it backwards.

The quality of writing has declined in the weekly “feature” press releases about major FAMU achievements. The press releases often fail to give thorough answers to the basic questions that they are supposed to answer (Who? What? When? Where? and Why?).

Lately the office itself has been a source of embarrassing news for FAMU. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

FAMU hurt by officials who disrespect reporters, lack basic media relations skills

The way FAMU alumna Tia Mitchell was treated at the Thursday, August 27 press conferences for the FAMU Legacy Banquet was a reminder of how much the university is being hurt by officials who lack basic media relations skills.

Mitchell, a Florida Times-Union reporter and graduate of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, went to Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in order to participate in the media availability that morning. The press conference was held at that location because the Legacy Banquet was an event that was jointly planned by Bethel Empowerment Foundation that is based in that church and the FAMU Foundation. The purpose of the banquet was to honor all the living FAMU presidents and raise money for the FAMU athletic department. Attendees at the press conference included FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Board of Trustees (BOT) Chairman Rufus Montgomery, and former Trustee R.B. Holmes (the pastor of the church).

According to a statement that Mitchell posted on her Twitter page, a public relations official intervened when she tried to ask questions and told her it wasn’t the right press conference for that.

Friday, August 28, 2015

BOG not signaling any interest in saving Mangum presidency

Back in June, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) said that it would review the claims from a group of FAMU alumni in the legislature who said that FAMU Board of Trustee Chairman Rufus Montgomery’s treatment of President Elmira Mangum has been “bordering dangerously close to bullying.” But the BOG still isn’t signaling any interest in saving the Mangum presidency.

The tension between Rufus and Mangum has increased in the weeks after the lawmakers took their concerns to the BOG.  The latest clash took place on August 17 when Mangum accused Rufus of violating her “employee rights according to University Regulation 10.103(3b) -Nondiscrimination Policy and Harassment Procedures.” She later told the Florida Times-Union that she thought Rufus was working toward the goal of firing her.

But BOG Chancellor Marshall Criser and BOG member Matthew Carter both downplayed the seriousness of the problems that Rufus and Mangum have with each other in statements to the media this week. Criser brushed off the issue by saying that it was “noise around the edges.” Carter told a reporter that “I don’t think the relationship is broken.”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rufus rebuffs lawmakers’ calls for him to resign, hints at SACS rule against political meddling

Back in 2011, Rufus Montgomery was quiet after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) scolded Gov. Rick Scott for interfering in the FAMU Board of Trustees’ duties by trying to pressure it to suspend then-President James H. Ammons. SACS told the governor that his actions could jeopardize FAMU’s accreditation.

SACS Standard 3.2.4 states that each member’s governing board must be “free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and [protect] the institution from such influence.”

Rufus had called for Ammons to be placed on administrative leave only seven days before the governor made his statement in support of the same proposal. He declined to criticize Scott for placing FAMU’s accreditation in danger. But yesterday, Rufus appeared to be very anxious to remind a group of FAMU alumni lawmakers about SACS Standard 3.2.4.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

McKnight placed in the middle of Mangum, BOT leadership dispute over SACS rules

The dispute between FAMU President Elmira Mangum and the Board of Trustees leadership over the rules of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has put Avery McKnight between a rock and a hard place.

Back on August 5, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees challenged Mangum’s claim that the shift of the $12,996,539 core operating budget of the College of Engineering (COE) to Florida State University (FSU) was a “management decision.”

The Joint College of Engineering Governance Council unanimously passed a resolution to make that change during a meeting on May 20. The decision was made without a vote of approval by the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson said that “Section 3: Comprehensive Standards” of the SACS rules could give the Board of Trustees a way to challenge what the Joint Council did.  “Section 3” includes a rule that says the policy-making job of the board of a school must remain distinct from the job of the administration to oversee the execution of policies.

Monday, August 17, 2015

BOT shouldn’t give Mangum its trust as long as she refuses to answer questions about alleged Cassidy call

Back during a discussion with the FAMU Board of Trustees on August 5, President Elmira Mangum was uncooperative when she was asked for a “yes or no” answer to a question about an alleged phone call that the chairman said he received from a vice-president in her administration.

At the Special Committee on Governance meeting held on that day, Chairman Rufus Montgomery said that a senior member of the FAMU administrative team had called him and asked him if he would be willing to have the committee end its discussions on two topics it was considering. According to him, those topics were the possibility of having the FAMU general counsel report to the Board of Trustees in addition to the president and clarifying the options that are available to the board for employing outside counsel.

The chairman said the administrator told him that in exchange, Vice-President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Avery McKnight could be replaced with a new potential general counsel.

Monday, August 10, 2015

FAMU trustees reaffirm confidence in Rufus, continue questioning Mangum’s leadership

Rufus reelected chair, Lawson reelected vice-chair

On July 30, Rattler Nation reported that Rufus Montgomery was on his way to an easy reelection as chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees and that Cleve Warren was unlikely to run against him again.

Sure enough, the FAMU Board of Trustees unanimously reelected Rufus on August 6. Warren didn’t come to the meeting or even bother to participate over the phone.

The members of the board also reelected Kelvin Lawson to the vice-chairmanship. Belinda Shannon nominated Kimberly Moore for the job, but Moore declined to vote for herself and supported Lawson. Shannon cast the only vote for Moore.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rufus’ support on FAMU Board of Trustees remaining steady as Mangum’s declines

Rufus Montgomery appears to be headed to an easy reelection as the chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees next week.

Back on April 8, Rufus won the race to serve out the remainder of the term of former Chairman Chuck Badger. Badger left the Board of Trustees on March 27, 2015 when Gov. Rick Scott replaced him with new Trustee Robert Woody.

Badger had been a supporter of FAMU President Elmira Mangum.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mangum likely to have few defenders left on FAMU Board of Trustees by January

The next round of term expirations on the FAMU Board of Trustees could make it even harder for Elmira Mangum to keep her administrative ship above water.

Back in April, Rufus Montgomery won the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees with a 9-4 victory against Cleve Warren. The vote count showed the split between the trustees who were supporters of Mangum and those who either want her gone or appear to be losing patience with her.

Rufus has been Mangum’s biggest headache on the Board of Trustees since her contract negotiations last year. He was a leader in the unsuccessful attempts to set her starting salary at $325,000 instead of the $425,000 she wanted and also to try to deny her a tenured position in the FAMU College of Education.

Mangum and Rufus went on to clash at Board of Trustees meetings with Rufus telling her during an August 11, 2014 conference call that the board could cut off her microphone. According to a Tallahassee Democrat article that ran later that month: “Reminded that Montgomery is closely affiliated with Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to FAMU’s board, Mangum responded: ‘What does that say about the people that appointed him?’”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mangum’s attempts to mend fences with Scott too little, too late

Gov. Rick Scott could make Elmira Mangum’s problems with the FAMU Board of Trustees go away with only a minimal amount of effort on his part. But she doesn’t have much of a chance of getting any help from him after what she said last year.

Back on August 23, 2014, the Tallahassee Democrat ran a story that included the following comments that Mangum made about Trustee Rufus Montgomery: “Reminded that Montgomery is closely affiliated with Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed him to FAMU’s board, Mangum responded: ‘What does that say about the people that appointed him?’”

Scott appointed Rufus to the FAMU Board of Trustees back in 2011. 

That statement to the Tallahassee Democrat might have seemed like a good idea to Mangum back when the polls were showing that Scott was in a neck-and-neck race with former Gov. Charlie Crist for the governorship. But Scott won his bid for reelection just over two months after that statement was published.

Friday, July 17, 2015

FAMU has tenured professors fully qualified to be interim COE dean, but weren’t appointed

(L-R: Reginald J. Perry, Kamal Tawfiq, and Samuel A. Awoniyi)
The FAMU administration continues to defend a resolution that was unanimously passed by the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) on May 20. That resolution called for a switch in a set of responsibilities that the two universities held in the program. FSU is now serving as the fiscal agent and FAMU will receive the line for the deanship in August.

A press release from FAMU last week said that becoming the tenure home for the COE dean was an important change that needed to happen because it would help FAMU. But despite that statement, the FAMU administration agreed to let a professor with tenure at FSU become the interim dean of the COE. The FAMU and FSU administrations have appointed FSU Associate Provost Bruce Locke to serve as the interim dean after current Dean Yaw Yeboah, who is also an FSU employee, steps down on July 31.

The FAMU administration still hasn’t explained why a professor with tenure at FAMU wasn’t chosen for the interim deanship. Whatever the reason is, it can’t be that there weren’t any tenured FAMU professors who were qualified for the job because that isn’t true.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mangum administration says FAMU needs COE deanship, but agreed to let FSU professor be interim dean

Back on May 20 the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) unanimously passed a resolution that said the fiscal agent duties for the college would transfer from FAMU to Florida State University on July 1. The Governance Council, which includes voting representatives from the FAMU administration, went forward with that action even though the FAMU Board of Trustees has a policy that states that FAMU wants to be the fiscal agent for the college.

The FAMU administration defended the resolution in a press release last week. It said the resolution was good for the university because FAMU will soon become the tenure home for the deanship instead of FSU.

“Arresting the decline in FAMU’s student body means hiring new faculty, which is an important factor in attracting students. The dean has the responsibility of approving vacant and new line items. Gaining the responsibility of selecting the dean will help to address this issue,” the press release said.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Rattlers express shock, disappointment about FAMU engineering crisis on Twitter

The article “Florida State Takes Hold of FAMU Engineering Purse Strings,” which was published on the website of Diverse Issues in Higher Education on Monday, has moved quickly through the Twitterverse. Numerous FAMUans on Twitter are expressing shock and disappointment about the crisis that has now made FAMU a part of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering in name only.

As of the time of this blog posting, the most re-tweeted comment on the topic comes from the official page of FAMU alumna Anika Noni Rose.

“Fla State has been attempting to manhandle FAMU’s engineering program for YRS. Appears it’s finally happened. Shame,” Rose wrote in the tweet sent July 7.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

FAMU-FSU College of Engineering now includes FAMU in name only

FAMU is sitting on the sidelines as Florida State University carries out all of the key operational duties for the College of Engineering.

FSU has quietly replaced FAMU as the fiscal agent for the college and still has the deanship. FAMU now has no meaningful say in running the program.

FAMU isn’t about to get the any real influence in the college again any time soon. A joint press release from FAMU and FSU on June 1 stated that “the tenure home for the next dean will rotate to Florida A&M University.” But when current Dean Yaw Yeboah steps down at the end of the month, the “next dean” will not be an employee of FAMU. The “next dean” will be Bruce Locke, an FSU associate provost who will begin serving as “interim” dean on August 1.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Florida State currently has deanship and budget authority for College of Engineering

Dean Yaw Yeboah and Interim Dean-designate Bruce Locke
On July 1, FAMU stopped having a meaningful say in the operation of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). This could continue for as long as a year.

Florida State University replaced FAMU as the fiscal agent of the COE on July 1. FSU employee Yaw Yeboah is still the dean and will continue in that job until his resignation takes effect on July 31. Another FSU employee will then begin serving as the interim dean.

According to a joint press release from FAMU and FSU on June 1: “Marcella David, J.D., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at FAMU, and Sally McRorie, interim provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at FSU announced that Bruce Locke, Ph.D., former chair of the COE Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering and currently FSU associate provost, will assume the role of interim dean on Aug. 1.”

Friday, July 03, 2015

Exchanging $12.9M engineering budget for deanship is nothing close to a fair trade

On June 3, Florida State University President John Thrasher said that FSU will be the new fiscal agent for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). FAMU had served as the fiscal agent/budget manager since 1987.

That statement by Thrasher came two days after a joint press release from FAMU and FSU announced that COE Dean Yaw Yeboah would step down on July 31. The June 1 release added that “the tenure home for the next dean will rotate to Florida A&M University.” FSU had served as the tenure home of all the deans since 1987.

The FAMU Board of Trustees did not take a vote to approve any changes to the 1987 agreement that designated FAMU as the fiscal agent/budget manager for the College of Engineering before Thrasher’s announcement on June 3.

Exchanging the $12,996,539 operating budget for the COE for the deanship is nothing close to a fair trade and greatly diminishes FAMU’s influence in the program.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rufus placing FAMU in danger with his disrespectful attitude toward SACS

Out of all the complaints Rufus Montgomery has brought up against Elmira Mangum since her hiring, one of his biggest has been about her decision to seek advisement from the Southern Association of Colleges of Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) before a major university decision last year. His disrespectful attitude toward FAMU’s regional accrediting organization is placing the university in danger.

Back on November 7, 2014, the FAMU Board of Trustees Athletics Oversight Committee voted to recommend that the full Board of Trustees pass a policy requiring two trustees to be appointed to the advisory committee. The motion did not state any intention to restrict the two trustees from being voting members.

Mangum told the committee she thought that proposal was inappropriate. She then went to SACSCOC President Belle Wheelan and asked if what the committee had requested was consistent with the accrediting organization’s rules. Wheelan informed her that trustees may only serve as nonvoting members of search committees for positions that work under the president.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Trading College of Engineering budget for deanship would be bad for FAMU

John Thrasher would not have agreed to let FAMU become the tenure home for the next College of Engineering (COE) dean without negotiating something big for Florida State University. If Elmira Mangum is preparing to give up the COE’s core operating budget in exchange for the chance to hire the new dean, then that would be a bad deal for FAMU.

Back in 1987, FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries and FSU President Bernie Sliger signed an agreement that said that FAMU would permanently manage the operations budget for the College of Engineering. The two presidents also agreed that FSU would be permanently in charge of the administration. COE deans have had tenure appointments at FSU since that time.

But according to a joint statement from FAMU and FSU released on June 1: “the tenure home for the next dean will rotate to FAMU.” The joint press release did not specify whether the decision to “rotate” the next dean’s tenure home means that FAMU and FSU are set to switch the roles established by the 1987 agreement.

FSU already receives a separate engineering appropriation that was a total $5 million in 2014. If FSU becomes the new fiscal agent/budget manager for the COE, then it will also receive the $12.9 million appropriation for basic COE operations this year. That means FSU would manage at least $17.9 million for the college in 2015-2016 and FAMU would manage $0.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Absence of FSU appropriation from new budget entity shows “transparency” talk isn’t sincere

When a politician with John Thrasher’s level of ruthlessness asks for a major legislative change with vague language, you can bet that he has a trick up his sleeve. This can now be seen in the “deal” on the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Back on February 19, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) approved a proposal to ask the legislature to create a new budget entity for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. The plan said that the new budget entity would “include all operating funds for the Joint College, including the appropriate amount of plant operation and maintenance funds.”

“The thing that I think President [Elmira Mangum] and I have both agreed on and certainly with your staff is this, this, these changes, these changes that we’re talking about, the organizational changes, the transparency, the accountability, which are all in here, which you all, every one of you I know believe in, uh, frankly go back to making this a successful program for the students,” FSU President Thrasher told the BOG at that meeting.

Thrasher also told WCTV-6 that the BOG plan “creates a new opportunity for governance of the school as well as trying to isolate and put into a separate fund the resources that we get for the joint college.”

But despite what Thrasher said about “transparency” and putting “into a separate fund the resources that we get for the joint college,” millions of dollars that FSU receives for the College of Engineering are not in the new budget entity.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Still no public explanation for why new engineering budget entity only has $12.9M instead of $15.9M

FAMU representatives meeting with Sen. Bill Montford during FAMU Day at the Capitol
The new budget entity for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering has about $3M less than the total amount of money that the college received last year. But the FAMU administration and elected legislative delegation that represents the university still have not given a public explanation for why this is.

Back in 2014, FAMU received a $10.9M appropriation for the program in its general revenue budget. That was the money for maintenance needs, plant operations, and the salaries of 23 FAMU professors and 27 FSU professors. FSU received a separate appropriation of $5M in its general revenue budget that paid for another 36 FSU professors.