Truthfulness is the basis of integrity and it has always been the cornerstone of my existence, anchoring my life by forming the principle foundations of my support and underscoring every action and every decision I have ever made.
I told the truth when I informed the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees that becoming president of any institution was not in my immediate plans because I did not know if I wanted to be a college president.
I already had one of the best jobs in higher education as dean of the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
I have been a part of a very special team of faculty, students and administrators who have through their energy, intelligence and commitment to service lifted the College of Pharmacy to unprecedented achievements for a historically black university.
We will soon break ground for a new building. We are the only college of pharmacy in the southeast ranked in the top ten in the competition for research dollars from the National Institutes of Health.
I accepted the interim position with full knowledge and full acceptance of the conditions set by the Board of Trustees.
I made a commitment to the Board that I did not wish to be considered for the permanent position.
After serving as interim president for little more than a month, I still stand by that commitment and will honor it as I have always planned to do.
However, something did change during my short tenure as interim president.
I have learned more about this institution in the past 30-plus days than I learned during my 24 years as a faculty member and dean.
It became clear to me that not only did I have the ability to be a university president, but that I also have a commitment to this institution, which includes an obligation to serve it to the best of my ability.
When various individuals, organizations and even the Tallahassee Democrat asked me to step forward and respond to what appeared to be a groundswell of support for me to become permanent president, it would have been unethical of me to become evasive or give a response designed to prevent controversy.
Or more to the point, it would have been unethical of me to not tell the truth and so I told the truth.
I have never asked anyone for support, never submitted anything in writing and do not intend to do anything other than stand by my commitment to the Board of Trustees.
My greatest desire at this point is that the presidential search process continues without using valuable time to deal with what is really a non-issue.
I am not a candidate nor will I become a candidate for the permanent president of Florida A&M University. I intend to continue to work as hard as I can as interim president to keep FAMU on the path that has it poised to become one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning.
I will work diligently in the transition of the permanent president to make sure that the baton is passed smoothly so FAMU will continue to move forward.
My students know that I have always taught them to be truthful in the classroom and in their daily public lives. I would never provide an example that would allow them to think otherwise.
Would I one day like to be considered as a candidate for the presidency of Florida A&M University, yes.
Am I now or will I become a candidate for the current position? No.
I told the truth in December and I am telling the truth now.
Henry Lewis III