People are resistant to change. When we are accustomed to doing things a certain way for years and years – even if doing things that way is detrimental to our success – the mere suggestion of changing our habits makes everything haywire.
Such is the story of FAMU-from the student leaders, all the way up to the administration-whose no-nonsense interim president has made everything go awry.
Because so many of these people have been forced to alter the way they conduct business (now they cannot pay employees more than they are supposed to, they have to keep accurate financial records, and must run efficient offices), some would suggest that things are not in order. However, the exact opposite is true.
FAMU was perhaps the most troubled University in the State University System. But after the firing of the apathetic Fred Gainous, bringing in Dr. Castell Bryant and several teams of external consultants (the hiring of which was a savvy business move), reversing a huge budget deficit that will be a surplus by the end of the year and a batch of new and extremely capable key members of the administration, FAMU is on the rise.
Nobody can deny the positive strides that Bryant has made. She restored several programs to various schools and colleges, secured grants that external entities refused to pay under Gainous’ leadership, prompted the accreditation of the College of Education, and secured dollars from the National Science Foundation, just to name a few.
However, her opponents fault her for FAMU’s dropping enrollment (although Bryant was not president during last year’s recruitment season) and the lightning-fast changes in administration. Because they lack discernment, they cannot see that Dr. Bryant is rebuilding-they mistakenly claim that she is only tearing down, leaving the university in peril.
Those who claim that the University is in peril are sadly mistaken. What may be in danger are individuals’ power, salaries and the old way of doing things. It is my opinion that those anti-Bryant dissenters fear for their own futures and not necessarily the future of FAMU. Granted, some changes may have negatively affected some students, and I sympathize with members of the Marching 100, the several student athletes whose programs got cut, and others who may feel slighted; but the truth is that these changes better most students and the University as a whole.
Some say that the decisions are not the problem, it’s just bad timing. Some say that she is simply firing too many people. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. If we continue the traditions that progressively led our institution to instability, we will have an unstable and potentially disintegrating institution. If we embrace change, which in this case comes along with seriousness, focus and vision, we are sure to progress.
Because I love FAMU, I will embrace these changes.
Ronaldo Allen is a 5th year business administration student from Jacksonville. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org