State Steps in to Figure Out What’s Wrong With FAMU’s Finances

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There were harsh words Wednesday from state lawmakers for Florida’s only historically black state university. On Florida A&M University discussions at the Capitol, even the school’s chief defenders say they’re fed up after the latest state audit shows millions of dollars of financial mismanagement.

State officials are now saying enough is enough, and they’re sending in the big guns.

As the world-class Marching 100 band played for FAMU day at the Capitol, lawmakers announced the state is stepping in to sort out the financial mess at Florida A&M University. Angry members of the Black Legislative Caucus who’ve been trying to protect the school after several years of scathing audits say they’ve lost patience.

Rep. Curtis Richardson of Tallahassee was outspoken.

“And if criminal wrongdoing has been done, then those people will have to suffer the consequences because the university is there for its students.”

FAMU grad and state Senator Al Lawson has been one of the university’s chief defenders, but he supports the creation of a state task force to figure out what’s up with FAM’s books.

“You have to understand these are the peoples’ moneys in the state of Florida, taxpayers, and they demand that the university have accountability. So whether they don’t want anybody coming in or not, they don’t’ have that option anymore.”

Five legislators will work alongside the task force and report recommendations back to lawmakers and the governor. In FAMU’s defense, the university does have a new president taking over who has a proven track record of turning around financial disasters at universities. But is it too little, too late?

Student government member Vincent Evans says there’s ongoing concern about how the universities’ financial woes have affected the school’s national reputation.

“As prospective students look to the university, it is important and critical that we clear up all that is occurring and move forward with the mission of Florida A&M University.”

The students and the state’s taxpayers deserve nothing less.

Some lawmakers have raised the possibility that the state could cut Florida A&M University’s funding if the school can’t get its books in order, but members of the Black Legislative Caucus vowed to keep the school’s funding intact as it works out its problems.

Gov. Charlie Crist says he wants to give the new president time to get the school on the right track. James Ammons is set to take over the presidency this summer.