Alumni petition for new school leadership

More than 1,000 signatures claiming to advocate a “change in leadership” are listed on an online petition criticizing President Gainous.

Launched Aug. 27 by members of the Jacksonville and Miami-Dade chapters of the FAMU National Alumni Association, outlines 13 issues that question the president’s decisions and motives.

Though the 1,146th signature was listed as “Love Collins,” the vice president for development denies the endorsement.

“That’s ridiculous, that’s utterly ridiculous,” Love Collins III said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Noting that anyone can type in a name, Collins said, “I’m in full support of the president … I think that somebody’s playing games.”

Although she acknowledged “some” signatures may be “aliases,” Vanessa Byers, president of the Miami-Dade chapter, said the petition “has a lot of supporters.”

Byers, along with Demetral Wester, a member of the Jacksonville alumni chapter, according to the Web site, created and wrote the petition. Wester presented it as a resolution at the Florida Region Alumni Conference in July, Byers said.

The Florida Region voted against supporting the resolution, Byers said.

Many alumni were not aware of the rationale behind Wester’s resolution, Byers said, “so we changed the format to the online petition.”

Representatives and supporters of the national alumni association plan to address the FAMU Board of Trustees at its meeting Sept. 14, Byers said.

“This is not an anti-Dr. Gainous petition, this is a pro-FAMU issue,” Byers said of the change-in-leadership initiative.

The petition began during growing criticism that Gainous has divided staff, faculty, alumni and students. Gainous denied that accusation in an Aug. 26 interview. He said he has attempted to unite the University .

“We came in with a theme of creating One FAMU,” Gainous said. “I don’t think that’s divisive.”

Collins said the focus of those concerned about the University should be to build up FAMU and should cease fighting “in a public brawl.”

Gainous, who became the University’s ninth president in 2002, said that he does not feel any pressure to step down as president of the University, and that if his agenda has changed it is because the situation (such as the environment and resources) “dictates that it change.”

“The pressures that I feel are to do the best that we can for Florida A&M University,” Gainous said. “I can’t control everything. I certainly can’t control the actions of individuals. I can control what I do. I intend to do the best job that I can and to have Florida A&M University move forward. We are not reacting to opinion.”

The Sept. 14 Board of Trustee meeting has been rumored to call for Gainous’ resignation. When asked what his biggest fear was concerning to the upcoming meeting, Gainous said there were none.

“I don’t have any fears about that meeting,” Gainous said. He also said that he could not answer why the Board of Trustees is reconsidering his presidency. “You’ll have to ask them that,” Gainous said.

Collins also said that he does not fear anything at the meeting and would not comment on whether or not he believed that the pressure building on Gainous would influence the board of trustee’s agenda.

“I really can’t comment on that,” Collins said. “I don’t speculate. I have never had a history of speculating.”

Gainous said that he does not currently know what it is that the trustees want for him to do that he has not already done.

“We will have an evaluation that is scheduled for December,” Gainous said. “I will suspect at that time they will let me know.”

Gainous could not be reached for comment on the petition.