Transition is a passage from one form, state, style or place to another. It’s safe to say that FAMU is going through a transition right now. While trying to replace the greatest president this university has ever seen, the university is also moving to greater heights as an institution of higher learning.
FAMU has been trying to get it right for a long time now. In order to make serious changes, you must start from the top and work your way down. However, as we have seen time and again, “the powers that be” seem to be holding us up.
The Board of Regents was formed to better education throughout the state. Each state university had a representative under the BOR. While campaigning, Gov. Jeb Bush promised the FAMU community if he were elected, he would put a FAMU alum on the BOR. Bush was elected, and as promised he appointed James Corbin to the board.
However, everything in politics is give-and-take. Yes, FAMU got representation on the BOR, but who said it was a good one?
The press release from the governor’s office called Corbin “a true FAMU Rattler at heart,” which is typical. They’re trying to present a positive image of him to his alma mater. However, when it came down to make a crucial decision for FAMU, Corbin sold us out.
The BOR, including Corbin, voted unanimously in favor of Bush’s One Florida Initiative, which sought to end affirmative action and create equity in education, hiring and contracting. You would have to be the most naÃ¯ve African-American in the nation to believe that One Florida was really created to help blacks. Unfortunately, Corbin ended up looking like the Token Black Negro being put in a position to satisfy blacks in the area.
As you may know, the BOR is no more, it was replaced by individual Boards of Trustees assigned to each university. On June 15, Gov. Bush announced the formation of FAMU’s Board of Trustees. This worked out much better, but flaws are still present.
All of the board members seem more than qualified for the job. Chairman Art Collins, however, has had many people, including me, looking at him sideways. Collins is a lobbyist for tobacco companies. This doesn’t look too good on the resume when you’re working with young men and women.
Collins also decided to stay in the male dorms to experience college life. Why, I don’t know. It seems that he’s trying too hard to make a good impression on the student body. Every time I think of Art Collins, I’m reminded of Jay-Z’s song, “Get Ya Hands Up,” where Jay-Z says, “He’s all right, but he’s not real!”
The Board of Trustees’ first order of business was to find a new president. President Frederick Humphries is a very hard act to follow so they knew his replacement had to be over-qualified. But one aspect about the presidential search bothers me.
Out of the 14 presidential applicants, only four were black. And, almost half the applicants have applied to other universities seeking presidents.
FAMU’s future president should not be someone who put his/her name in a hat hoping to be chosen. I don’t want anyone here who doesn’t want to be. Because it’s an HBCU, it would be a plus if the president was black as well.
There are just over 12,000 students at this university, and I can count on one finger the number of people I know who’d be fine if FAMU’s president was anything but black.
Henry Lewis has done well for the time being as interim president, but the board has promised to have a permanent president by March. I respect the effort, and I want things to be finalized as soon as possible too, but don’t rush this process. It would be a shame if the blame fell on the Board of Trustees for hiring a crappy, unqualified president and the university suffers because of it.
FAMU has been in the same league as larger universities for a while. It’s about time to take things to the next level, though. If we claim we’re the best HBCU in the nation, let’s prove it.
You have to start somewhere, and before you blame the students, you have to blame the teachers. Before you blame the teachers, you have to blame the administration.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
So, FAMU continues to slowly push forward to reach it’s ultimate potential. Current Rattlers and Rattlers-to-be will wait with bated breath for the resurgence of FAMU, and all that it has the potential to be. To “the powers that be,” don’t keep us waiting too long, you might look up one day and see that everyone is gone. Feel me?
Antione Davis, 20, is a junior newspaper journalism student from Tampa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.