University moves past fall turmoil

Vice President for Development Love Collins III said action plans being implemented because of recent financial missteps will provide a “mandate for future success at Florida A&M University.”

“We are not in a financial crisis,” said Collins, who was hired last year by President Fred Gainous to help with the school’s fund raising efforts. “There were several issues… that we had to respond to and refine this year… without the people who had the primary responsibility for some of these areas now targeted by our action plan.”

Among those issues were $3 million of construction spending that was not accounted for and $1.8 million in property assets improperly noted in last year’s fiscal budget. Collins said the plan will address future issues similar to those and others that could arise.

“We will use (the plans) as a template for all issues that come before us as we continue to refine our business practices,” he said. “This is my third historically black university I’ve been associated with. Every previous institution, there have been issues.”

Members of the Board of Trustees expressed satisfaction that the administrators have devised a plan they believe will prevent most of the problems that plagued the university last semester.

“I think what the president and his staff have developed is a good step,” said James Corbin, chairman of the school’s BOT. “But (FAMU) took a terrible PR hit. It’s a good plan, but the devil is in the detail.

“The president and his staff must put it in place.”

SGA President Larry O. Rivers suggested that progress made in recent weeks will help dispel rumors that the university was “on the brink of a financial disaster.”

“I think this is really going to help to set the record straight about what is going on at this university,” said Rivers, 22, a senior public relations student from Tallahassee who also serves on the BOT. “One newspaper account said FAMU was on the brink of financial disaster. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

“There’s really no reason for panic. The lights aren’t going to go off, people aren’t going to stop receiving their money. Everything’s going to continue as normal.”

Collins points to record-breaking enrollment, a record number of applicants and alumni contributions as reasons to believe the school is on the right track.

“We’re way over where we were this time last year,” he said. “People understand the mission wheel of Florida A&M University is not broken.”

“Last fall was perhaps a significant defining moment for FAMU. But our response must translate that experience into our finest moment, particularly as we forge ahead with stronger business practices as a result of implementing these action plans.”