Governor prohibits faculty members from joining board

Faculty members said a statute that prevents them from being appointed to the board of trustees should be thrown out by the state legislature.Michael Abrams, who has taught journalism for 21 years, was denied appointment to the board twice because he is a member of the faculty. The first came in 2001 when Gov. Jeb Bush replaced the Board of Regents with separate trustee boards for each of the 11 public colleges and universities in Florida. Abrams was turned down again in August when Lerrie Jenkins was appointed to fill one of three vacated positions. The rejections are a direct result of a statute set by the Legislature to restrict faculty from becoming trustees.Abrams said that the lack of experience in education among trustees alone calls for the presence of a faculty member on the board.”They’re businessmen basically,” said Abrams, 54, who has taught at FAMU his entire career. “Some may be alumni who haven’t been on the campus in 20 or 30 years.”Kentucky, along with at least six other states, has faculty as trustees, according to the Associated Press.”Teachers should be on the board of trustees,” Abrams said. “At least six states including Kentucky allow faculty trustees faculty trustees. What’s wrong with Florida?”Student Government Association President and trustee Andre Hammel agreed, saying a greater representation of primary university bodies should be present on the board. Each board has a student representative.”The current board members bring unique values to the board and they are trying their hardest to help keep FAMU growing and prosperous,” he said. “However, a stronger representation on the university’s part is needed on the board, whether it’s faculty or students.” Other faculty members said representation on the board is greatly needed. Florida Legislature says otherwise.Faculty Senate President Ada Burnette said she hopes the statue will be reversed in the near future. “I feel strongly that people doing most of the work need to have a representative,” Burnette said. “They are great people but they do not know the intimate workings of FAMU. Faculty can serve a very useful role. Hammel said although the board lacks the amount of primary university representatives, he has faith that the current board will do its best to improve the university overall. “I’m not quite sure how we are going to get there but this [board of trustees] is a new process and I have faith in Florida’s government not to steer us in the wrong direction,” he said.Abrams said he will look for a congressional representative to propose a bill to the Florida Legislature that would throw out the statute.”I don’t care if the faculty member is (a) non-voting (member),” Abrams said. “We still need a representative.”

Meanwhile, Abrams has a few issues he feels the board should address.

I think there is a big problem when there are teachers who are required to do research have 3 or 4 classes to teach. Most research schools give professors 1 to 2 classes. Our faculty faces this problem.State computers are not available to the university. The university badly needs advice on computing. The Web site is an eyesore There’s a lack of diversity. ___ 3 percent of student population is white. Compared to 10 years ago when 10 percent of population was white. 20 percent of faculty white as opposed to 30 percent last year. “I realize this is an hbcu but what can we do to increase diversity.