FAMU president progress causing rift in board of trustees

For the past three months a number of esteemed members of the FAMU Board of Trustees have taken sides on the issue of President Fred Gainous’ success in expanding the University.

A number of trustees have backed Gainous and have pushed for a fair assessment of his presidency.

“He’s had an awful lot to do and he’s been doing it”, said Trustee Randy Hanna in support of Gainous’ work.

In 2001, with the backing of several trustees, Gainous was named university president. As the successor of Frederick S. Humphries, Gainous was challenged with addressing many of the issues left unresolved under the previous administration.

Thus far, Gainous has been constantly tailed by controversy.

Now heading into the third year of his tenure, Gainous finds himself confronting many of the same board of trustee members who supported his appointment in 2001.

Hanna said it is imperative for critics of the president to appreciate the issues he met immediately after being appointed.

Hanna gave credence to the financial difficulties that have faced FAMU for many years, saying, “Historically an investment has not been made with the infrastructure of the school.”

Gainous supporters draw attention to the several advancements and accomplishments that have occurred on campus during his tenure. For these supporters major improvements in the class registration process, the integration of ERP, and the accreditation and reopening of the FAMU Law School serve as proof of the positives steps made under Gainous.

Those who have challenged Gainous’ leadership ability have

not been as understanding. Among the most recent causes for outrage is the recent resignation of Henry Lewis, the dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Included in Lewis’ reasons for resigning, which were outlined in a letter sent to the Office of the Provost, are complaints concerning his salary compared to that of other pharmacy school deans and a lack of dialogue between he and Gainous on issues regarding the school.

Previously unsatisfied with Gainous and the focus placed upon his school, Lewis applied for the position as university president at Bethune-Cookman College last year. Although named as a finalist, Lewis was not hired.

As the head of the College of Pharmacy, a nationally recognized program and successful recruiter of top students, Lewis’ presence on campus as a university leader has been considered solid for many years.

Lewis served as interim president at FAMU during the search process conducted following Humphries’ leaving. Throughout the search for Humphries’ permanent replacement, a number of students, including former SGA President Larry O. Rivers, formally expressed their support for Lewis’ appointment.

“I don’t think we can afford to lose this caliber of faculty because of perceived unfairness,” said Trustee James Corbin, in response to Lewis’ resignation.

In response to many of the issues in Lewis’ letter, Gainous has said that the University has already made concessions for Lewis and the College of Pharmacy and that the final decision would be left up to Lewis.

The irony with the Lewis situation is glaring, considering that many of the trustees who denied his application for president of FAMU now are calling for President Gainous to recognize his contribution to the college and resolve his complaints.

Perhaps the greatest criticism of Gainous has been his suggested inability to form a strong relationship with the student body.

Gainous has not been the only FAMU official to be criticized, with many of the trustees being questioned for their inconsistency and lack of support for the president. The divide between Gainous and his trustee critics has become increasingly more obvious in the past several months, causing some to question whether certain trustees are positioning themselves for consideration for presidency.

Trustee Corbin, whose name has been linked to similar plans in the past said that such behavior would be out of order.

“[Rumors of my interest in the position] are absolutely untrue and would be highly inappropriate,” Corbin said.

The level of production within the board of trustees has also been called into question.

Rivers said that despite the errors that have been made under Gainous, it is important for the trustees to put aside their differences for the betterment of the University.

contact steven jumper at jumpersoulrb@aol.com.