Senate President Ramon Alexander called a press conference Wednesday to address a concern regarding an on-line petition to oust President Gainous.
On the petition, which has no written signatures and only typed names, “Ramon J. Alexander” appears as number 1491 on the petition with a comment that reads “I used to be a strong supporter. But not anymore!”
“The problem with this is that I did not sign any petition and I did not make the written comments stated on the petition,” Alexander said in his statement to the media.
Vice President of Development Love Collins III also had the same problem when the name “Love Collins” appeared on the petition as number 1146.
In a telephone interview last week, Collins denied that he put his name on the petition, and said he was in full support of the president.
“There is a plethora of other names that look suspicious, buttoday I will only speak for my discontent and concern about the credibility of the petition,” Alexander said.
“Who knows how many names are on the ‘Change in Leadership’ petition that are not accurate.”
At press time, the petition, located at http://www.petitiononline.com/famu1887, had 174o signatures.
Alexander said that unless the situation is resolved, further actions will be taken; although, he did not specify what exactly will be done.
“The bottom line is that the forging of signatures and statements of individuals is a serious offense, and must be corrected immediately or necessary action will be taken against the caretakers of the petition,” Alexander said.
“This is not a threat but only a clear and precise message that irregularities within a petition of high magnitude effecting Florida A&M University will not be tolerated.”
The petition, 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.
Neither Demetral Wester nor Vanessa Byers, who are the authors of the petition, could be reached for comment about Alexander’s press conference.
Although she acknowledged “some” signatures may be “aliases,” Vanessa Byers, president of the Miami-Dade chapter, said in an interview Sept. 2 that the petition “has a lot of supporters.”
Wester originally presented the petition as a resolution at the Florida Region Alumni Conference in mid-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 plans 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 amid growing public criticism that Gainous has divided faculty, staff, alumni and students. Gainous denied that accusation in an August 26 interview. He said he has attempted to bring the University together.
“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 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 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 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.-Staff Editor Diamond Washington contributed to this report
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