Frustration is mounting over ongoing problems at Florida A&M University. Financial mismanagement, mass firings, and division in the ranks have taken a toll on student and faculty morale.
One of the biggest concerns right now seems to be the need for a permanent president.
Business major James Bland will be a junior this fall at Florida A&M University. Like other students, he’s concerned that his school has gone without a permanent president for a year and a half, and several department head positions are also going unfilled.
“We need a permanent president so we can fill some of these dean vacancies, because a lot of deans don’t want to come to a university that’s not stable.”
Interim president Castel Bryant was brought in to clean house when FAMU’s former president was fired in the wake of ongoing financial turmoil. But some fear she may have been too heavy-handed. Dozens of employees have been fired or laid off, including eight business professors this month.
A recent audit also shows FAMU still has significant financial problems. Although the university appears to be running a budget surplus, the audit showed questionable bookkeeping procedures.
State Senator and FAMU alum Al Lawson fears FAMU’s image is starting to suffer. He wants FAMU’s Board of Trustees to get moving on its search for a new president.
“When you’re unstable, a lot of times it’s hard to attract private donors. You don’t want parents in the stat to stop sending their students to the school. You want them to still feel they can get a valuable education at FAMU.”
The fallout may already be occurring. Enrollment dropped by nearly 900 students last year.
FAMU’s Board of Trustees will review the university’s latest audit at its meeting Thursday.