Friday, May 12, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown found guilty of fraud scheme involving bogus charity

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was convicted by a federal jury in Jacksonville, Florida, yesterday for her role in a conspiracy and fraud scheme involving a fraudulent scholarship charity.

Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Charles P. Spencer of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, Division and Chief Richard Weber of the of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

2001: Times-Union reports “Thrasher admitted breaking ethics laws”

John Thrasher was elected FSU BOT chair about two months after he admitted to an ethics violation
Back in July of 2001, the Florida Times-Union reported that former Florida House of Representatives Speaker John Thrasher “admitted breaking ethics laws forbidding former legislators from lobbying lawmakers within two years of leaving office. He has agreed to pay a $500 fine.”

“Sure I regret it, but it was not an intentional violation,” Thrasher said in a quote published by the newspaper.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Questions rise about whether Thrasher violated lobbying restrictions set in state law

Back in February, the Naples Daily News ran an investigative story entitled “Document suggests former state Sen. Thrasher violated lobbying ban as FSU chief.” It looked into the question of whether Florida State University President John Thrasher, a former state senator, “violated the state law that forbids former lawmakers for a two-year period from lobbying the Legislature.”

Thrasher left the Florida Senate in 2014 to become the president of FSU. That meant that under state law, he could not lobby the Florida Legislature until 2016.

The Naples Daily News highlighted “a 2015 form with Thrasher named as the requester and dated before the former senator's ban on lobbying expired” that was submitted to the Florida Legislature. It requested $1M for the FSU College of Law.

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.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Trump responds to controversy over his signing statement on HBCUs

On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the controversy over his May 5th signing statement that accompanied the Consolidated Appropriations Act. That statement appeared to many to question the constitutionality of the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program.

“The statement that accompanied my signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, sets forth my intention to spend the funds it appropriates, including the funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), consistently with my responsibilities under the Constitution,” Trump said. “It does not affect my unwavering support for HBCUs and their critical educational missions.”

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.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Rattlers celebrate success during spring commencement

More than 1,100 Rattlers walked across the stage during Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s (FAMU) 2017 Spring Commencement Ceremonies last week at the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium.

After earning degrees from one of FAMU’s 14 colleges and schools, graduates reaped the benefits of years of study and dedication surrounded by enthusiastic family members, friends and supporters.

During his Friday evening commencement address, Arnold Donald, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & PLC, the largest travel and leisure company in the world, advised the graduates to passionately pursue fulfillment in life.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Lawson denounces GOP-led effort to repeal Affordable Care Act

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson released the following statement after Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives forced a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act:

“Republicans have lost sight of why constituents sent us to Washington D.C. – and it wasn’t to score political points with President Donald Trump. This abomination of a health care disaster will raise health care premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for hard-working Americans while at the very same time, giving $600 billion in tax breaks to big corporations.

Friday, May 05, 2017

SACS didn’t state that FAMU was on probation due to “administrative instability” in 2007

Back last year when it became clear that the FAMU Board of Trustees wasn’t going to grant a contract extension to then-President Elmira Mangum, many of her supporters started grasping for straws in their hunt for justifications for her to stay.

One claim some of them made was that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) put FAMU on probation for “administrative instability” in 2007 because the university had left too many interim administrators in important jobs for too long.

But that’s not what SACS said in the official letter it gave FAMU announcing the probation decision.

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.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Epps out after lowest first-try Fla. Bar Exam passage rate since FAMU Law’s reopening

On Tuesday, Florida A&M University announced that Angela Felecia Epps is no longer the dean of the College of Law.

The change followed the release of the latest Florida Bar Exam results for FAMU Law graduates. A total of 46.2 percent of the FAMU Law graduates who took the February 2017 Florida Bar Exam passed on their first try. That is the first time the FAMU first-try passage rate has been below 50 percent since the college’s reopening in 2002.

Epps had started her deanship on January 4, 2016, more than a year before that big slide in Florida Bar Exam performance.

FAMU Law saw its highest first-try bar passage rate under LeRoy Pernell, who served as dean from 2008 to 2015. Yesterday, FAMU Interim Provost Rodner Wright issued a statement that said Pernell is the new interim dean of the College of Law.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Founding J-School Dean Ruggles offers possible motivations on Kimbrough's dismissal

Robert "Bob" Ruggles, the founding dean of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communications, used his facebook page hours after news broke of the firing of J-School Dean Ann Weed Kimbrough to offer his thoughts on to the possible reasons why. 

He also cited the questionable credentials of too many of the school's adjuncts, potential issues related to re-accreditation of the school, and low faculty morale.

Ruggles, founded the Division of Journalism in 1974 alongside former professor Thelma Thurston Gorham, and transformed it into a full fledged "school", complete with its own building and labs. 

Under Ruggles' watch, FAMU became the first HBCU with an accredited journalism program. He developed sequences in newspaper journalism, broadcast journalism and public relations. Since then, he has helped numerous HBCUs receive journalism accredatation, including Jackson State, Grambling and Hampton universities.

During his 29 years leading the FAMU journalism program, Ruggles, by his own accounts, raised over $15 million for the program

Experienced administrators take reins of FAMU Education, Journalism, and Pharmacy schools

On Monday, three experienced administrators became the new heads of several Florida A&M University schools.

Patricia Green-Powell, Ph.D., is the new interim dean of the College of Education (COE). Green-Powell previously served as the interim dean of the college from 2012 to 2015. She also held the positions of associate for student affairs in the COE and interim vice president of the Brooksville Agricultural Environmental Research Station.

Green-Powell additionally served as FAMU’s vice-president for student affairs from 2003 to 2005. Before that appointment, she was the vice-president for student affairs at Bainbridge College, director of student services at South Carolina State University, and director of student services at the FAMU School of Business and Industry.

Dhyana Ziegler, Ph.D., DCJ, has stepped into the office of interim dean of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC). She joined the FAMU faculty in 1997 as the Garth Reeves Eminent Scholar in the SJGC. She later held several administrative positions at FAMU including assistant vice president for academic affairs and instructional technology, acting vice president for Research, and acting director for the Office of International Education and Development.

Lastly, Seth Ablordeppey, Ph.D., was named the interim dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He previously held that same office at FAMU from 2011 to 2012. Before that appointment, he was the director of the Basic Sciences Division within the college.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Thompson, Taylor, & Kimbrough out as deans

Rattler Nation has learned that Florida A&M has removed the dean of the College of Pharmacy, Michael Thompson today.  The move comes after the college's board passage rate dropped to dead last among all U.S. colleges of pharmacy.

Along with Thompson, College of Education Dean Traki L. Taylor, Ph.D and Journalism Dean Ann W. Kimbrough were also dismissed today in Interim President Larry Robinson's first administrative shake up since the initial round of firings he made during his first days in office.  

Seth Ablordeppey, a well respected pharmacy researcher who previously served as interim Dean will once again lead the college. While Patricia Green-Powell has been tapped to take over the reigns of the College of Education, again.  Green-Powell previously lead the college from 2012-15. 

Dhyana Ziegler a former holder of the FAMU Garth Reeves Eminent Scholars Chair in Journalism has been tapped as interim dean of Journalism.

Updated: 6:30 p.m.

FAMU softball team clinches MEAC Southern Division title

Alexis Day led FAMU with four hits and three RBIs in Sunday’s win over B-CU
The Florida A&M University (FAMU) softball team used a 15-hit attack to overhaul host Bethune-Cookman, 13-7, and capture the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Southern Division championship at Sunnyland Field.

Sunday's win gave the Lady Rattlers (18-27-1, 13-2 MEAC) their first Southern Division crown since 2009, while foiling archrival Bethune-Cookman's bid for their first division title since 2014.

FAMU pitcher Kenya Pereira (8-9) tossed two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh. She finished the day with seven strikeouts, two walks, and scattered 13 hits while allowing seven runs in seven complete innings.

Heading the FAMU offense was Alexis Day, who finished with four hits and a pair of RBI, Snider who had three hits and two RBI, along with the trio of Toni Anderson, Whitney Farris and Pereira, who each had two hits.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

FAMU bowling signs Louisiana state prep star

The FAMU bowling program recently landed a stellar recruit with the signing of Louisiana phenom Keondra Eaton, to a scholarship to join the team this fall.

Eaton, played at an exceptionally high standard as a senior for Baton Rouge High School, setting three state records for the 2016/17 bowling season;

She established single-season marks for High Average: 212.4; High 2-game series: 491 and High 3-game series: 748.

This accomplishment will afford Eaton the opportunity to represent the State of Louisiana at the National High School tournament, this summer, in Nashville, Tennessee.

That event will showcase the best boys and girls High School bowlers from across the country, and also promotes the importance of High School bowling in the United States.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

FAMU nursing student receives award

By Deja L. Allen
Florida A&M University

Alexis L. Ritchie has been honored as the recipient of the first annual Windsor D. Ferguson Memorial Award at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU).

The award was established by the children of Bishop Windsor D. Ferguson, Sr. at their respective historically black college or university (HBCU) alma maters to celebrate students from Broward County, Florida who uphold the educational values their father supported.

Friday, April 28, 2017

FAMU College of Law ranked highest in Florida for diversity

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law was recognized by U.S. News & World Report for having one of the most diverse law schools in the nation. With a diversity ranking of 0.67, FAMU ranked ninth in the annual index and received the highest rank of any Florida law school.

“As more professional schools strive toward providing students with a well-rounded educational experience, diversity becomes increasingly important,” said Felecia Epps, dean of FAMU College of Law.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

David comes up short in pursuit of Montana State provost job

Marcella David, who served as provost under former FAMU President Elmira Mangum, recently came up short in her pursuit of the provost’s job at Montana State University. She was one of five candidates who received an invitation for an on-campus interview for the position.

President Waded Cruzado opted to appoint Robert “Bob” Mokwa, who has served as interim executive vice president for academic affairs and provost since June 2016, to continue in the job on a permanent basis.

“Dr. Mokwa brings a deep understanding of the land-grant mission of research, teaching and outreach to the job,” Cruzado said in a press release.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Partnership helps TCC students become Rattlers

By Deja L. Allen
Florida A&M University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) continues to enhance the “TCC2FAMU” partnership with Tallahassee Community College (TCC) after years of producing successful transfer students through the program.

Earlier this year, students gained tons of information about the program during FAMU Advisement Day at TCC, hosted by the Office of University Retention.

During the program, TCC students interested in attending FAMU were able to speak with representatives from each of FAMU’s colleges and schools.