University President Fred Gainous made an attempt to settle the final terms of his
contract at the Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.
Gainous notified trustees he would be taking a leave of absence after Fall Commencement, beginning Dec. 11.
Although Gainous would still be acting president when he takes his leave, the new interim president is expected to be in office by Jan. 1.
As the meeting began, Gainous discussed a memorandum he sent to BOT Chairman James Corbin, which requested changes be made to his contract.
Gainous said he wrote the memorandum to Corbin so they could be of the same understanding.
“We needed to determine where we were as a University, where I was as an administrator and the president of the University, and I believe (the memorandum) has clarified it,” Gainous said.
Of the additions, Gainous asked for an increase in his annuity
payment to $33,000, which is $3,000 more than the original contractual agreement. In addition, Gainous said he wanted reimbursements for health benefits, as well as funding for the Center for Agricultural Policy, an agency he wants to create and become the director of. All of Gainous’ wishes were voted on and approved by the trustees.
“There’s no severance pay. This is an industry. It’s a business,” Gainous said. “But we have not progressed in certain ways, at least contractually, at FAMU to allow it to occur any other way.”
Student Government Association President Virgil Miller said one of the main purposes of the meeting was to “give the president what was due (to) him in terms of the contract that was signed.”
As for the annuity change, Miller said that was one of the things that was due to Gainous.
“The additional annuity was to say thank you for a job well done, for your continued support of the University and its programs,” Miller said. “I think we did that in good faith.”
Gainous said the meeting went well.
“I feel the same way that I do about any board meeting that has ended, any one that you walk away from alive has been a good meeting,” Gainous said. “I believe the board rests today with some very pertinent, very significant issues as to how this University moves forward…I wish that they had been dealt with in this manner some time ago.
Gainous said the meeting was productive and commented on what he said the matter at hand was.
“I don’t think at this juncture if I have been treated fairly or not is an issue,” Gainous said. “I think an issue is how do we heal this University.”
Miller agreed the meeting went well.
“We got a few issues taken care of as it relates to the transition (of) bringing in an interim president,” Miller said.
However, even though the board voted to give Gainous a bonus in his annuity, the decision does not become final until the Foundation Board approves it, which will meet this week, according to Miller.
As for president’s salary, Miller said Gainous’ base salary in the original contract was $275,000. For the first year after he leaves office, he will receive $247,500, which is 10 percent less than the original base salary. Then, for the second year, he will receive an additional 10 percent less than the first year, which is $222,750.
The BOT was to evaluate Gainous on Dec. 14, but because Gainous requested to leave office before evaluation, trustees decided the evaluation would be irrelevant.
Corbin said the search to find an interim president will be similar to the previous process when former dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, Henry Lewis, was named interim after President Fred Humphries resigned.
“There won’t be any difference. It will be a different person,” Corbin said. “The process will be tight. It will be very concise and we’ll be prepared, God willing, to make a recommendation for an interim at the meeting on the 14th of the December.”
Corbin said he did not know of any perspective candidates.
The chairman said he had one wish for what would happen between now and Jan. 1.
“I wish I could see a new person and a very good person who is interim,” Corbin said.
Miller had a similar wish.
“No matter who the person is that sits in the position, FAMU must continue to move on, and I think that has been the underlying tone and the sentiment of everybody,” Miller said.
It is unclear when the decision was made officially to have Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, since it had not been planned at the same time as the rest the meetings. However, Miller said the decision came about in committee meetings, especially the strategic planning and interim presidential selection committees.
Contact Rachael Shackelford and Kris Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org