Questions of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication budget deficit are finally being answered by administration in the weeks following former Dean Robert M. Ruggles’ abrupt retirement.
Provost Larry Robinson and Kent Taylor, associate vice president of university development proclaim unyielding support to resolve the school’s equipment and furniture deficit. Officials have placed the SJGC at No. 1 on the state’s Public Education Capital Outlay priority list.
Furthermore, university officials have promised all state matching funds to the school until the $1.5 million that had been donated in 2002 to the construction effort is matched.
Robinson said in December 2002, the administration submitted the $1.5 million the SJGC raised to the state for matching, but the combined total for all schools waiting for matching was $3.4 million.
The university was awarded $2.19 million this year for matching funds, which caused over $1 million in donations to be unmatched.
“We initially received the response that they could not match.which meant that journalism would have to wait till next year,” Taylor said. “Based on our call, we talked to everyone at the state board division of college and universities, now they are saying that they will match it.”
“Journalism will receive $400,000 for matching this year, and the first $1.1 million of next years dollars will go to journalism to complete the match, totaling $1.5 million.”
If state funding is lower than what is anticipated, Taylor said whatever is funded to the university, the SJGC will receive it.
“Whatever fraction of the remaining $1.1 million we get will all go to journalism,” he said.
Robinson added, “I can’t think of any stronger commitment that we could have made to match the journalism money other than taking everyone else out of the queue, which is not acceptable.”
Ruggles announced his retirement on Sept. 19 to students and faculty, saying he was stepping down due to a “culmination of things.” He expressed frustrations and concerns about a possible $4.2 million deficit in equipment and furniture funding for the new SJGC building, as well as lack of support from university officials.
Ruggles said he received no answers to why university officials had not matched any of the $1.5 million dollars raised from donors for the building.
Ruggles said he was pleased about the progress that has been made since he announced his retirement in September.
“It’s better than not getting any of it, but the administration must realize that prices and costs are going up, they are not going down,” he said after being informed that the $400,000 that was allocated to the school in the last matching disbursement was released to the school.
Further progress in funding for equipment will possibly come from the Public Education Capital Outlay plan. Robinson and Taylor said the SJGC equipment money is on the top of the PECO priority list from 2004 to 2006 totaling $1,924,536. (PECO funds are generated from a 2.5-percent sales tax on gross receipts from utilities).
But SJGC students’ cynicism and frustration towards administration has lingered since Ruggles’ retirement and an all-school SJGC colloquium Q & A session with Provost Larry Robinson October 9.
Many students have concluded that FAMU’s administration does not care about the school’s future.
Christin Smiley, a sophomore public relations student from Montgomery, Ala., based on the Q & A colloquium session said, “He (Robinson) was trying not to expose what was really going on. He jumped around a lot of questions. Therefore, I have no reason to believe anything he said – something must be wrong with the administration.”
Robinson, who wants to put an end to the cynicism and speculation said, “I don’t think you can measure whether or not we care based on this one incident. That’s what is disturbing to me.
“I think as hard as I work and many other people work, for students to have this as sort of the acid test as whether or not we care is totally un-fair. I am here because I wanted to have a positive impact on the lives of students.”
Ra Teagle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org