- Faith & Family
In an emergency meeting Tuesday morning, Florida A&M University’s [FAMU] board of trustees voted to put their school’s future in the hands of Dr. Larry Robinson, 58. The former University provost was chosen unanimously to serve as the interim president. The majority
of the board members referred to the situation as one requiring “immediate action,” although some, like Trustee Rufus Montgomery, were uncomfortable with the swift action that was taken.
However, after an hour-long meeting, the Board, led by Chairman Dr. Solomon L . Badger, III, said they were confident that Robinson has the skills needed to clean up the problems at FAMU including but not limited to invoking “sweeping changes in certain key positions of authority.”
The emergency meeting and changing of the guard was needed after former President James H. Ammons tenured his resignation, effective July 16th. Ammons began his sabbatical leave on Tuesday, July 17. He will be paid 25 percent of his 2010-2011 base
salary at the minimum contractual level — $81,250. Ammons had previously planned to stay at the helm for 90 days but changed his mind.
He said in his letter to Badger, “There are new challenges that must be met head on . . . After considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family, I have decided to resign . . . following the presidency, I will continue my work on science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] initiatives as a tenured full professor on our great faculty.”
Some speculate that the move was made after the family of Robert Champion, the Marching 100 drum major who died more than six months ago following a hazing incident, added the University to their lawsuit last week. Champion’s parents have already sued the bus company, saying the driver allowed the hazing to take place. The band has since been suspended with 11 members facing felony hazing charges; two others face misdemeanors for their roles.
More about Robinson and FAMU’s future
Robinson’s appointment is subject to confirmation at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting which will take place in August. It was apparent from the comments made during the Board meeting that he is both well liked and highly respected. With a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, he joined FAMU in 1997 as the director of the Environmental Sciences Institute. He has served the school twice as university provost.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to serve at this critical time in the University’s history,” Robinson said. “There is work to be done and I stand ready to do my absolute best to keep FAMU on its path of success. During this period, I look forward to serving our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters.”
Robinson knows he has a tough job ahead of him. In recent months, FAMU has been faced with a number of problems besides the hazing debacle including: graduation rates; retention and enrollment numbers; accounting irregularities; and even allegations of sexual assault at the University’s affiliated elementary-middle-high school.
Trustee Torey L. Alston said Robinson was the best person to help stabilize the University.
“With Dr. Ammons no longer in charge we need to move swiftly but wisely,” he said. “It’s time to do some major cleaning up while Robinson serves as our interim president. Everyone is looking to us to get things in order. We cannot afford to delay.”
By D. Kevin McNeir