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

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.

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, March 31, 2014

Mangum should remember O’Jays’ warning in “Backstabbers” as R.B. tries to befriend her

When the Marching 100 returned during the fall, Rattlers near and far sang word-by-word as the band played classic favorites such as “Backstabbers” by the O’Jays. New FAMU President Elmira Mangum should think of the warnings in that particular song as R.B. Holmes seeks to become her “friend.”

The O’Jays described individuals like R.B. very accurately when they said: “They smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place.”

Back during his ten years as a FAMU trustee, R.B. engaged in a long series of jealous power struggles against sitting university presidents. He seemed to want to personally run much of FAMU without all of the responsibilities that came with the presidential position.

Ever since his appointment expired in 2011, R.B. has been trying to regain a foothold in Lee Hall. Now, it looks like he is trying to fast-talk Mangum into bringing him into her inner circle. She would be wise to keep his knife from getting close to her back.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Mangum should insist on having a super-majority clause in her contract

No one could blame Elmira Mangum if she has started having second thoughts about the FAMU presidency after the way the university’s Board of Trustees treated her last week.

Attorneys for Mangum and FAMU came to a mutual agreement over a proposed contract. But on Friday, board members shot down the joint recommendation and demanded that the president-designate agree to changes in areas such as compensation.

The trustees also took a disrespectful “our way or the highway” tone toward Mangum by effectively giving her one week to concede to less generous employment terms.

At this rate, it would not be shocking to see Mangum just  say “no thanks” and stay in her comfortable job at Cornell University.

But if Mangum does decide to give the FAMU Board of Trustees a second chance (which is what a large number of students, faculty, and alumni are hoping), she should not put her signature on any employment agreement that lacks a “super-majority clause.”

Saturday, February 01, 2014

FAMU Board of Trustees goes to battle with Mangum over employment agreement

Unresolved tensions from the FAMU presidential search resurfaced on Friday when the university’s Board of Trustees shot down a proposed contract for Elmira Mangum.

Attorneys for Mangum and FAMU had come to an agreement on a three-year contract that included a $425,000 base salary, ten percent bonus option, and 15 percent annuity. But rather than approve the joint recommendation, the FAMU board chose to go to battle with the woman it just voted to hire as the university’s 11th president three weeks ago.

The Board of Trustees ordered FAMU’s lawyers to get back in the negotiating room and demand that Mangum’s lawyers accept changes in areas such as compensation and benefits. Some of the loudest criticism of the proposed contract came from Trustees Rufus Montgomery and Glen Gilzean.

But what the board is actually willing to approve is anyone’s guess. The trustees failed to reach a consensus on what type of salary and benefit package they would find acceptable. Individual trustees will send their own recommendations in to the university’s attorneys.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

FAMU trustees try to save face after dirty, dysfunctional presidential search process

Had the behind-the-scenes deal-making at FAMU gone as planned, Elmira Mangum would have never become one of the two finalists for the university presidency.

Ahead of the application deadline, Rattler Nation learned that certain FAMU-associated individuals who were eager to please Gov. Rick Scott had passed an unofficial short list of presidential candidates up the ranks. That list had a Washington, DC candidate, a Georgia candidate, and a Texas candidate.

It was said that the DC candidate was former Howard University President Patrick Swygert and that the Georgia candidate was Morehouse School of Medicine President John E. Maupin, Jr.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Price’s selection as a finalist another example of search committee’s incompetent vetting

Karl E. White, chairman of the FAMU presidential search committee
Rattlers far and near should be embarrassed that the FAMU presidential search committee actually named John Ellis Price a finalist for the university presidency.

Back when Price was the president of the University of Texas at Dallas (UNTD), he treated his professors like dirt. He tried to terminate the entire faculty of the school (then a branch campus of UNT Denton) in 2010 before backing off in the wake of negative publicity. A 2012 UNT Dallas faculty survey that received a 51 percent participation rate found that most of respondents thought Price’s administration lacked effective communication skills, openness, and receptiveness. That was his last year as president.

Price shouldn’t have made the first cut, let alone the finalist stage. His selection as one of the two top-recommended candidates is another example of the incompetent vetting process led by FAMU presidential search committee Chairman Karl E. White.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ex-Maupin supporters seeking to even the score through coup to seat Price

FAMU is a big university. But it’s still much too small to keep certain secrets.  

Many supporters of John E. Maupin, Jr. did a poor job of hiding what they were trying do behind-the-scenes. They made things even worse for themselves after they were discovered. Rather than making the smart choice and shutting up, they decided to get cocky and declare victory before Maupin even applied for the job.

That boasting was replaced with embarrassment when the Rattlers who wanted a clean presidential search process raised so much hell that Maupin got cold feet and dropped his candidacy.

The worst isn’t over, yet. Many FAMUans were excited to hear the praise that trustees such as Karl White, Torey Alston, and Narayan Persaud had for Elmira Mangum’s candidacy, yesterday. But Rattlers need to look beneath the surface of what’s being said out in public.

There is move afoot by some ex-Maupin supporters to get revenge for what happened to their candidate. Mangum, who’s received the backing of many alumni who loudly criticized Maupin, has become a target for that anger.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Maupin, Suber too arrogant and disrespectful toward faculty to provide quality leadership

If John E. Maupin, Jr. had decided to go ahead and make the drive from Atlanta to Orlando for his scheduled FAMU interview today, he would have been greeted with the following Rattler Nation headline:

“Maupin received vote of no confidence from Meharry Faculty Senate in 2003.”

According to the Tennessee Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP): “One June 4th, [2003] the Faculty Senate voted no confidence in President John Maupin by a margin of 45 to 5 with 15 abstentions. The vote came after 13 professors were terminated and a number of others found their contracts restructured with substantial reductions in salaries.”

An investigating committee of the AAUP later accused Maupin of effectively eliminating the tenure system at Meharry Medical College during his presidency at that school. There were also allegations that he used intimidation tactics to pressure faculty members into publicly supporting that overhaul.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Persaud throwing FAMU faculty under the bus as he pursues personal power

Narayan Persaud is borrowing a page out of Mary Diallo’s book.

Back when she was the FAMU Faculty Senate president in 2004, Diallo voted to hire an interim president who, by all measures of common sense, was not qualified to run a public, four-year university. She threw her support behind Castell V. Bryant, the former president of the Miami-Dade Community College Medical Center Campus.

Diallo seemed to relish being a part of the new interim president’s “inner circle.” But she soon learned the hard way that it was all a sham and that Castell had little respect for her or any other member of the FAMU faculty.

Instead of treating FAMU’s professors like they worked at a research university, Castell treated them like community college personnel. She immediately trampled over the principle of shared governance by denying them input in the selection of both the new vice-president for research and provost (another ex-community college administrator). But even those first warning shots, Diallo continued to fend off efforts to introduce a resolution of “no confidence” against Castell in the Faculty Senate.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Maupin presidency could help Scott reshape FAMU in the model of Florida Polytechnic

The selection of John E. Maupin, Jr. as a semifinalist for the FAMU presidency is good news for Florida’s anti-tenure governor. A Maupin administration could be just what Gov. Rick Scott needs to reshape FAMU in the model of one of his pet projects, Florida Polytechnic University.

Back in 1998, the Florida Board of Regents announced a Three Tier Plan that called for FAMU to be a bottom tier “comprehensive” university that would focus mainly on teaching undergraduate students. Then-FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries led the fight to create a special “Comprehensive/Doctoral” category that permitted the university to continue pursuing its Ph.D. and research expansion ambitions.

Today, FAMU faces a different threat to its future as a research institution. Humphries, like all university presidents who know how to run a serious research university, understood that FAMU needed tenure in order to compete for the best published professors and grant-writing scientists.

But in a few days, FAMU could have a new president who doesn’t support tenure protection for faculty members. An investigating committee of the American Association of University Professors accused Maupin of effectively eliminating tenure at Meharry Medical College during his presidency at that school. There were also allegations that he used intimidation tactics to pressure faculty members into publicly supporting that overhaul. Maupin currently leads the Morehouse School of Medicine, which does not offer tenure, at all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hope for a Robinson presidential application is a pipe dream

Despite what Chuck Badger, Elizabeth Davenport, and the Tallahassee Democrat have said, the FAMU Board of Trustees never adopted a policy that restricts the university’s current interim president from submitting an application to lead the school on a permanent basis.

Article 5.6 of the FAMU board’s operating procedures says: “No business will be transacted without an affirmative vote of the Board, and a majority vote of all the members of the Board is required for establishing policy, for making rules and regulations, for appointing and removing the President, and for approving or terminating programs.”

The FAMU Board of Trustees NEVER voted to restrict the current interim president from applying for or being considered for the permanent position. The minutes of the trustee meetings held on July 16, 2012 and August 15, 2012, which have been accepted by the full board, prove that fact.

No vote. No policy.

Chairman Chuck Badger made an honest mistake when he claimed that the board approved a policy that bars FAMU’s interim leader from applying for the permanent presidency. He needs to step up acknowledge the fact that he gave inaccurate information to the public. But that’s a topic for another editorial.

Today’s editorial is a plea for Rattlers to wake up and come to terms with reality. Larry Robinson is not going to submit an application to become the 11th president of FAMU.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ava Parker isn’t qualified to be FAMU’s president

The push to promote an Ava Parker presidency at FAMU is already old news in Tallahassee. But Parker’s decision to pass on applying for the State University System of Florida (SUS) chancellorship has renewed talk that she has her eye on Lee Hall.

Back in July of 2012, a number of FAMU trustees were told that Parker, then a member of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG), was interested in becoming the university’s interim president. There were also attempts to pressure them with claims that Gov. Rick Scott would welcome Parker’s selection, but would but unhappy if then-Provost Larry Robinson were selected for the position.

Even after FAMU trustees bucked political pressure and appointed Robinson to the interim presidency, there was still lobbying aimed at gathering support for Parker as a permanent FAMU president. Those efforts temporarily calmed when she was tapped to become the chief operating officer of Florida Polytechnic University, one of Scott’s pet projects, back in November of 2012. But word has spread that she’s anxious to nab a higher paying job in the SUS.

Parker currently makes more than $200,000 at Florida Polytech. The SUS chancellorship, which she declined to apply for after months of speculation, is expected to pay at least $357,000 (the amount that ex-Chancellor Frank Brogan made). FAMU paid its previous president a base salary of $341,000.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Persaud, FAMU faculty senators, need to develop more self-respect

FAMU is not some for-profit diploma mill stuffed in a half-empty strip mall. It’s a multi-million dollar Carnegie Doctoral Research University.

One duty of the FAMU Faculty Senate is to guard the academic dignity of the school. That’s why the faculty senators must approve any candidate for an honorary degree. Honorary degrees are reserved for those who demonstrate the very best principles that research universities represent. If honorary degrees are awarded in a manner that is careless or driven by politics, then they become valueless sheets of paper.

So it’s difficult to even guess what was going through the minds of Narayan Persaud and his fellow faculty senators when they voted to grant ex-FAMU trustee Bill Jennings an honorary degree. Jennings’ long record of dismissing the concept of shared governance and looking the other way as problems that affected the faculty reached the crisis level should have disqualified him for such an award. But it looks like Persaud, the faculty senate president, and the majority of the faculty senators lacked the self-respect to vote down his candidacy.

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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Scott defends chief of staff who lied about college degree

Gov. Rick Scott and Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth
Gov. Rick Scott has another chief of staff scandal on his hands.

Last week, the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times confronted Adam Hollingsworth, the top-ranked aide in the Executive Office of the Governor, with evidence that lied for years about possessing a college degree. After learning that he’d been discovered, Hollingsworth finally admitted to what he had done.

“For many years, I publicly stated that I was a graduate of the University of Alabama, however, I did not complete my degree until 2009,’’ Hollingsworth told the Herald/Times. “I am not proud of this and I deeply apologize for this misrepresentation. I have learned from this failure in judgment and know that, over the last several years, my life and character have and will continue to grow from this.”

Scott was full of excuses when the press asked him for a comment on the issue.

Monday, December 09, 2013

New FAMU ΚΑΨ chapter president must provide the strong leadership that Torey didn’t

Back when Torey Alston was the president of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, a number of his fraternity brothers created a national embarrassment for FAMU by making the stupid decision to haze an aspirant.

That led to a seven-year chapter suspension that just ended this summer. On Saturday, Alpha Xi introduced 25 new members.  

The new FAMU ΚΑΨ president must now provide the type of strong leadership that Torey failed to give the chapter during his days as a student.

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

Jones did not directly accuse Torey of participating in the hazing. But he did mention Torey’s name in an account of the early stage of the pledging process that he told the St. Petersburg Times. Jones' accusations suggest that Torey knew of the chapter’s activities and turned a deaf ear.