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News Clips 01/25/2013
EDITORIAL: Florida A&M's image suffers another blow
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 01/18/13
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Florida A&M University has until Friday to prepare its response to a scathing report by the inspector general of the Board of Governors that called the university out for its lack of institutional and internal controls.
The inspector general determined that FAMU has a serious management problem that intensified during last year’s investigation into hazing incidents at the university and the university’s perceived inability to rid itself of that problem. But once the BOG team started digging, more concerns came to light, including a lack of control over finances and the training of staff in key positions of leadership.
The report also was the primary impetus for the university’s accreditation agency to place FAMU on its current one-year probation.
And, while most of those complaints were rooted in the work of previous administrations, interim president Larry Robinson and the Board of Trustees are now charged with countering those findings and subsequent public perceptions. To his credit, Dr. Robinson has brought some stability to the university’s leadership, winning the support of State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan and some members of the Board of Governors.
That’s one reason why developments last week raise new concerns about what is going on at Florida A&M University and who makes up Dr. Robinson’s leadership team.
Two days before Dr. Robinson was to meet with the Board of Governors regarding the inspector general’s report, the university appeared to blunder in its handling of the announcement of a new director of marching and pep bands. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the university. What transpired has to raise the question of whether the university is operating in a state of paralysis or if it is merely the victim of bad circumstances and timing.
Either way, the university suffered a major public relations blow that raises more questions.
The university initially interviewed four candidates for the coveted Marching 100 director’s position in November. Last Monday, the university issued a news release saying that Dr. Robinson and interim provost Rodner Wright, who headed the band director’s search committee, were ready to announce the new director on Tuesday. But that news conference never took place, forcing the university to issue a second release saying it was continuing negotiations with its chosen candidate, Jorim Reid, a graduate of FAMU and Florida State University who is director of bands at North Carolina Central University. Finally, on Wednesday, Dr. Robinson said he was reopening the search and would consider hiring a national firm to identify new candidates.
The hiring of the director of marching bands at FAMU is as critical as its hiring of a head football coach, maybe more so, in that the band is an international brand associated with the university. One has to wonder how any candidate could have 11th-hour questions about the parameters and structure of this critical position, as was the statement that FAMU released to the public.
This action comes on the heels of a decision this month by the dean of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication to suspend publication of the campus newspaper, The FAMUAN, after the university was sued for defamation of character. Dean Ann Wead Kimbrough has replaced the newspaper’s adviser and instituted a series of training seminars for the paper’s staff.
In the meantime, Mr. Brogan said last week that he was recommending that he personally work with Dr. Robinson and trustees on addressing FAMU’s issues with internal controls. This is a clear indication of the immediate and long-term importance of correcting this blemish.
“One common thread is the issue of institutional control: financial, hazing and a host of other issues,” Mr. Brogan said.
This leaves little room for the university to find itself in the position it was in last week.