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Can FMUs president restore confidence, stability?

caines | 7/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="title"] Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis shares her vision as her official start date approaches As her July 15th start date quickly approaches, Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, the recently-appointed president for Florida Memorial University [FMU], says shes already been doing her homework all in attempt to reduce the learning curve when she officially sets up shop and assumes the helm at South Floridas only Historically Black College and University [HBCU]. Artis took a few moments to speak with The Miami Times earlier this week, while meeting with the executive team at FMU, about the challenges she faces and how she plans to bring much-needed stability to the University. Im hoping to make personal contact with as many people as possible this week and have gotten quite a bit of documentation that will bring me up to speed in terms of FMUs history and recent turn of events, she said. One of the themes that has been consistent, whether thats been from faculty, staff or alumni, has been that there is great potential at FMU and that they want to see it realized. We have excellent programming and a committed group of employees who all seem to believe in this University. My role is to provide direction and to prioritize our goals so that we can reach our fullest potential.

Can FMU regain the publics confidence?

Like Howard University, whose trustees recently announced that the historic college faces the double-edged sword of dwindling finances and a lack of leadership, FMU has had its recent problems. Artis believes that FMU can adequately weather the storm. We have changed leadership a number of times in the past few years so the first step is stabilize that situation, she said. Thats where we are today beginning to bring stability from the top down. In terms of finances, many of our students are fully dependent on financial aid which is the case for a lot of students that attend HBCUs. We must do a better job in terms of educating our students about external scholarship opportunities so they are not forced to borrow the entire amount of money they need in order to pay for their education. We realize that they may have to get federal aid but we dont want them graduating with substantial debt. Artis was candid about her previous employer, Mountain State University, and the problems it faced first losing its accreditation and then undergoing financial challenges. Mountain State came though its most comprehensive accreditation process in the fall of 2009, she said. At that point we were granted a full 10-year accreditation, added masters and doctoral programs and branching out to new locations. One would assume that things were going well as we started 2010. Then we found out that there was a problem with our undergraduate nursing program. We had a sufficient number of adjunct professors but we did not meet the mandate for the required number of faculty with doctoral degrees. I was appointed as the Universitys chief academic officer in January 2010 and my first day on the job I learned about these challenges. Yes, we worked hard to recruit and retain our nursing faculty, but it was just too little, too late. As readers may recall, Artis was one of the three finalists in November 2010 when FMU was last looking for a president. Artis says she removed her name as a candidate before the final decision was made by the FMU board of trustees. I was supposed to come to campus for my final interview but when I was made aware of the problems facing our nursing program, I contacted the chair and withdrew my name, she said. Some may question my decision, but I wanted to remain at Mountain State and do whatever I could to turn the situation around. Now that Im here, I want people to know that this is not about supporting my vision its about supporting the students, faculty and staff that represent Florida Memorial University, she said. It doesnt matter whos at the helm this University deserves the publics support. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com