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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

FAMU needs more alumni women in its 11 appointed Board of Trustees seats

L-R: Keisha Lance Bottoms, Cheryl Harris, Melanie Roussell Newman, and Anika Noni Rose
For Fall 2017, 6,428 of the total 9,909 students at Florida A&M University were women. That’s 64 percent. But there are no women who graduated from FAMU in any of the 11 appointed seats on the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT). An alumna of FAMU hasn’t held one of those seats since 2016.

Six of the appointed seats are filled by the governor and the other five are filled by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG). The last two trustees are the elected Faculty Senate president and Student Government Association president.

The lack of any alumni women in the 11 appointed BOT is an insult because there are thousands of FAMU alumnae who would be excellent trustees. Four examples are Keisha Lance Bottoms, Cheryl Harris, Melanie Roussell Newman, and Anika Noni Rose.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nelson should sponsor a Senate companion bill for Lawson’s $50M HBCU Parity Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson speaking at the FAMU School of the Environment in 2017
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, was a supporter of the funding boost that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) received in the new federal budget. Back on February 22, 2018, he was one of 14 senators who signed a letter “to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies requesting that the upcoming omnibus bill contain a restoration and increase in federal support to HBCUs.”

That effort helped secure a multi-million dollar increase in Title III money for HBCUs.

But much more work needs to be done. Florida A&M University alumnus and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson recently introduced the HBCU Parity Act. Nelson should introduce a companion bill for that proposed act in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, February 12, 2018

FAMU Law professor addresses U.S president’s comments regarding immigrants from Haiti, Latin America and African Countries

Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law Distinguished Professor for International Law Jeremy Levitt recently wrote an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel on comments attributed to President Donald Trump.

From “We Need Immigrants – Especially from Developing Nations”:

President Trump’s atomic comments Thursday during a White House meeting with congressional lawmakers about immigration trampled the red line of racism, bigotry and prejudice — from which there is no return. Until now, I have been reluctant to label Trump a racist, noting the important differences between racism, bigotry and prejudice.

Isn’t it ironic that on the eve of two monumental anniversaries — the mega-earthquake that devastated Haiti and killed at least 300,000 on Jan. 12, 2010, and the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 15, 1929 — Trump asked why the U.S. accepts immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America rather than people from places like Norway?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

FAMU Advancement website hasn’t posted a new Foundation Annual Report since 2013/2014 edition

The FAMU Division of University Advancement recently underwent a leadership change. One problem that the new interim vice-president needs to fix is the lack of consistency in posting Foundation Annual Reports to

A new Foundation Annual Report hasn’t been posted to that website since the 2012-2013 & 2013-2014 edition.

Past editions of the report have included pie charts showing the major sources of annual gifts, honor rolls of donors, and news stories about how the contributions are being used.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms should be appointed to FAMU Board of Trustees

At her inauguration as the 60th mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms proudly reminded the audience that she is “a graduate of Florida A&M University.” She also added that: “I am the first HBCU graduate to become an Atlanta mayor who is not a graduate of Howard or Morehouse. The streak has been broken.”

Bottoms’ win in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral election is the latest addition to her long record of public service. She was previously a judge (pro hoc) in the Fulton County State Court, executive director of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA), and a member of the Atlanta City Council.

Her next big job should be serving on the Board of Trustees (BOT) of FAMU. Rattlers should begin lobbying the Florida Board of Governors, Gov. Rick Scott, and all of the gubernatorial candidates to appoint her to one of the seats.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

FAMUans should renew campaign for Rattler specialty license plate in Georgia

For nearly 16 years, Howard University alumni have held the mayorship of Atlanta, Georgia. Shirley Franklin served from 2002 to 2010. She was followed by Kasim Reed from 2010 to present. But despite that achievement, Howard still doesn’t have a specialty license plate in Georgia.

Two other out-of-state historically black universities, Alabama A&M University and Hampton University, actually have Georgia license plates for sale while Howard doesn't.

Now that Florida A&M University alumna Keisha Lance Bottoms is about to be sworn in as the new mayor of Atlanta on January 2, 2018, FAMU supporters should renew the campaign for a Rattler license plate in Georgia.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cotton has FAMU Foundation headed in right direction

During yesterday's FAMU Board of Trustees Direct Support Organization Committee meeting FAMU VP of Advancement George Cotton faced tense questioning about the University's fundraising goals for the coming year, the amount of money he has raised in the past year, and the amount university spends to raise each dollar (18 %) by committee chairman Thomas Dortch.   

While we all want to see the University bring in more money, we must understand that since Mr. Cotton came on board in July 2015 he hasn't had a whole lot to work with.  When it comes to bringing in big dollars most donors want to engage with the CEO of an institution and not the staff. That where Cotton's has had challenge --- he's had to work with Elmira Magnum, who by most accounts was about as smooth to deal with as a garlic milkshake, and Larry Robinson, who has long been hampered by the interim title.  

Despite these challenges Cotton has nearly tripled donations to the FAMU Foundation from a yearly average of $3.2 million per year when he took over to $8.6 million last year. Just last year alone Cottons presided over a 34% year-over-year uptick in annual giving to FAMU.  FAMU would be wise to give Mr. Cotton the proper tools he needs to do his job and stand back and reap the benefits.

Monday, November 27, 2017

FAMU needs aggressive push to R1 status

On Thursday, November 30, the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees (BOT) will meet to discuss its options for selecting the 12th president of the school. Back on November 9, the Florida Board of Governors granted the BOT a waiver to forgo a national presidential search. It is expected that the BOT will consider Interim President Larry Robinson for the job.

One of the long-term goals for the 12th president of FAMU must be a big expansion of the university’s research activities. FAMU needs to aggressively push toward R1 status in order remain competitive in Florida and across the nation.

FAMU reached “R2: Doctoral Universities – Higher research activity” in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in 2016. It was previously categorized at what is currently “R3: Doctoral Universities – Limited research activity.” The highest research category is “R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest research activity.”

Five of the public universities in Florida are already at R1: Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, and University of South Florida.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Powell grins big at Homecoming without apologizing for calling his FSU degree “the bright side” over his FAMU affiliation

Back during the 2017 FAMU Homecoming Convocation, state Sen. Bobby Powell stood up to grin big and wave during the program when his attendance was recognized over the loudspeakers.

But Powell, a FAMU alumnus, still hasn’t given a written public apology for calling his Florida State University degree “the bright side” over his affiliation with FAMU in June.

“With the increasingly negative news that continues to come out of FAMU, it is becoming more and more difficult to be an advocate,” Powell wrote in an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat. “On the bright side, I also received a degree from Florida State University.”

Powell received a B.S. in Journalism/Public Relations from FAMU in 2003 and a M.S.P. in Urban and Regional Planning from FSU in 2006.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Tallahassee gubernatorial candidates not shy about FAMU photo-ops, but quiet about small number of alumni on FAMU BOT

Adam Putnam at 2016 Spring FAMU Commencement
Three of the candidates in Florida gubernatorial race are based in Tallahassee. None of them have been shy about coming to Florida A&M University events for photo-ops and speaking about how great FAMU alumni are. But they have all been silent about the small number of alumni on the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT).

FAMU went from having six of the 11 appointed seats on its Board of Trustees (BOT) filled by alumni in 2015 to now only two. At both the University of Florida and Florida State University, alumni hold the majority of the 11 appointed seats.

For state university BOTs in Florida, the governor appoints six members and the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) appoints five. The Student Government Association president and Faculty Senate president serve as ex-officio members.

The frontrunner in the governor’s race is Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. Back on May 2, 2016, he gave the keynote address for one of FAMU’s two spring commencement ceremonies. His speech referred to his one-on-one experiences with quality FAMU alumni.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Enrollment growth necessary to repair FAMU’s dorm bond rating and replace Palmetto North

Lots of FAMUans publicly spoke out with their concerns about the slow administrative response to the problems Rattler students found at the Palmetto Street North Apartments on move-in day back on Tuesday, August 24. But some defenders of former President Elmira Mangum used that moment to spread more bogus information similar to what was on the discredited 2016 online petition that demanded a contract extension for her.

One untrue claim that circulated on the unofficial “FAMU Alumni” Facebook group was that Mangum wanted to replace Palmetto North, but Interim President Larry Robinson threw out those plans and just decided to keep that complex on an indefinite basis.

Robinson has said that he wants to tear down and replace Palmetto North. University officials told WJXT-4 in Jacksonville that the interim administration aims “to replace the 45-year-old dorms with new facilities as a long-term solution.”

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Op-ed: All FAMU’s freshman classes for past 22 years have had 3.0+ average high school GPAs

Yesterday, the Tallahassee Democrat website posted an op-ed written by Larry O. Rivers, a former FAMU student body president. Rivers called attention to the fact that all FAMU’s freshman classes for past 22 years have had 3.0+ average high school GPAs. He also pointed out that FAMU is the #1 public university when it comes to preparing black undergraduate students for science and engineering Ph.D. programs.

From the op-ed: “FAMU a national model in preparing blacks for advanced scientific work”:

A question from the June Florida Board of Governors meeting asked why a minority student seeking “to get the best education” would select Florida A&M University.

The National Science Foundation’s data sheds light on one of the biggest reasons for FAMU’s status as a school of choice among thousands of minority students: FAMU out-performs all other public universities in preparing blacks for the highest level of academic study in science and engineering (S&E) concentrations.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Morton, Tripp should both be removed from BOG

Last week, comments by Board of Governors (BOG) member Ed Morton brought negative news coverage to the entire State University System of Florida.

According to the Capital News Service, “While discussing the pay gap between men and women graduates, Board of Governors member Ed Morton said this, ‘The women are given, maybe some of it is genetic, I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to know the difference.’”

The story made national news, with stories running in the Washington Post and USA TODAY. Gov. Rick Scott, who gave Morton his appointment to the BOG, denounced the statement and the Orlando Sentinel named Morton its “Chump of the Week.” Morton apologized. But the National Organization for Women said that’s not enough and has called for him to step down.

Morton should definitely leave the BOG and Norman Tripp should go with him.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

“FAMU advocates” are reliable in fighting for the school, Powell isn’t

In an op-ed posted on the Tallahassee Democrat website yesterday, state Sen. Bobby Powell called himself “an advocate” for Florida A&M University. Part of his statement compared his feelings about FAMU, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, to FSU, where he earned his master’s degree.

“With the increasingly negative news that continues to come out of FAMU, it is becoming more and more difficult to be an advocate,” Powell wrote. “On the bright side, I also received a degree from Florida State University.”

Powell’s view of his FSU degree as being the “bright side” over his affiliation with FAMU could help explain a lot. That might be a reason why he hasn’t publicly voiced concern that FSU alumni hold most of the appointed seats on their alma mater’s Board of Trustees (BOT) while there are only two alumni in appointed seats on the FAMU BOT.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

FAMU, USF hurt by local lawmakers who didn’t contest proposals that harmed the schools, but helped Thrasher

Back in 2015, Florida A&M University lost control of the then $12.9M FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE) budget. This legislative session, a last minute bill change resulted in the University of South Florida to miss out on $10M it expected to receive by finally gaining “preeminent” university status.

Both legislative proposals that led to those harmful effects went uncontested by local lawmakers who represented FAMU and USF. Florida State University President John Thrasher ended up being the big winner in each case.

FAMU controlled millions for the COE from 1987 to 2015. But in 2015, the Florida Legislature shifted the $12.9M COE appropriation from the FAMU general revenue line to a new budget entity. Then-FAMU President Elmira Mangum joined Thrasher in stating that a new Joint College of Engineering Governance Council would call the shots on the COE operating budget. That made it possible for the FSU representatives and BOG Chancellor Marshall Criser, III to out-vote FAMU on budget decisions.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Florida Gov’s race: Still no promises to help restore alumni majority on FAMU BOT

L-R: Gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, and Adam Putnam
On May 5, U.S. President Donald Trump released a signing statement with H.R. 244 that appeared to question the constitutionality of the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program. The statement has raised concerns about whether the administration is committed to supporting continued federal funding for HBCUs.

Florida A&M University, the only public HBCU in the state, has taken a number of attacks over the past six years from Gov. Rick Scott, a big Trump supporter. A recent one happened in 2015 when appointment decisions by Scott and the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) led to FAMU alumni being reduced to a minority on the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT).

FAMU went from having six of the 11 appointed seats on its Board of Trustees filled by alumni in 2015 to now only two. At both the University of Florida and Florida State University, alumni hold the majority of the 11 appointed seats.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Suspicious COL, COE dean changes hurt Mangum’s credibility with many faculty, alumni

At this time last year, the FAMU campus was buzzing with word that then-President Elmira Mangum might be preparing to show four deans the door for reasons that had nothing to do with the university’s best interests.

The names circulating as the possible “targeted” deans were School of Architecture and Engineering Technology Dean Rodner B. Wright, School of Business and Industry Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Dean Michael D. Thompson, and School of Journalism and Graphic Communication Dean Ann L. Wead Kimbrough.

There were legitimate reasons to believe that some dean changes were needed. But the bigger question was whether the Mangum administration could be trusted to treat deans fairly.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

HBCU Digest: Gasman tough on majority black BOTs at HBCUs, but not white system leaders

HBCU Digest recently took University of Pennsylvania Professor Marybeth Gasman to task for being quick to criticize problems that predominantly black boards of trustees create at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), but mainly ignoring the harm that white leaders of state university systems cause at HBCUs.

Gasman is the director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

From HBCU Digest:

Dozens of HBCU presidents over the last few years have been fired, but only a handful of them of earned the defense of University of Pennsylvania professor Marybeth Gasman in the pages of national news. Today, outgoing Morehouse College President John Silvanus Wilson became the latest to earn the Ivy League endorsement…

She did something similar for former Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum last September, accusing its board of sexism and interference…

Thursday, March 23, 2017

NCA&T controls millions at its COE, FAMU lost control of $12.9M at FAMU-FSU COE

NCA&T Chancellor Harold Martin listens as then-FAMU President Elmira Mangum speaks in 2015
North Carolina A&T University is not only the largest single campus historically black college or university (HBCU) in the nation, but its College of Engineering remains the #1 producer of engineering degrees on the undergraduate level awarded to African Americans.

The NCA&T College of Engineering continues to benefit from Chancellor Harold Martin’s decision to make it a central part of his vision for strengthening the university’s presence in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. Martin’s work to build his alma mater’s engineering programs goes back to his years of service as chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering and later dean of the college.

One big advantage that NCA&T’s engineering college currently has over Florida A&M University’s is that NCA&T controls millions of recurring dollars in legislative appropriations for its program. A study from 2011 estimated that the recurring appropriation for the NCA&T College of Engineering was about $5M per year.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rose a real Rattler who spoke out against FAMU losing budget control at FAMU-FSU engineering

Back when Anika Noni Rose was a theatre student at Florida A&M University, Frederick S. Humphries was her president. She watched while he battled to make sure that the university kept control of the multi-million dollar budget for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE).

Humphries struck a deal with Florida State University President Bernie Sliger in 1987 that gave FAMU control of the budget in exchange for an agreement to support Innovation Park as the building site for the COE. The deal was made final by the 1987 “Memorandum of Agreement.”

But FAMU’s control of that budget came to an end in 2015.