From forums to blogs to a profile on Facebook, the administration at Florida A&M University is trying to make an effort to better the lines of communication between itself and students, faculty and staff.
“One of the things that became apparent to me was the campus community didn’t have access to the administration,” said the new FAMU President, James Ammons. “And that’s something that I wanted to change immediately.”
Sharon Saunders, chief communications officer for the university said these unconventional ways of reaching out to the university community are meant to foster good relationships and help bring a more positive view of FAMU to the public.
“We want to change people’s perceptions and educate them about FAMU,” Saunders said.
If faculty, students and staff have concerns or issues about the university, the place to address them is at the next student, faculty and staff forums scheduled for Sept. 19.
The forums will be held separately at Lee Hall Auditorium. The staff forum is from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The faculty forum is from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The forum for management is from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and the forum for students is from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“It was my thinking this could be a great way for us to find out what’s on the minds of these important steak-holders at the university,” Ammons said.
Two more forums are scheduled for the fall semester but those dates have not been finalized Saunders said.
The communications department on campus also set up an account on Facebook, a student networking site, to have more interaction with students.
“We want to let students at Florida A&M University know that we know communication between the university and students has been bad in the past,” said Angel Suri, a writer for the communications department and account manager for the Facebook account. “We are making a conscious effort to improve the lines of communication.”
There is a feature on the account called the honesty box. This allows students to submit comments or concerns anonymously.
“The question on there now is, “What do you think Dr. Ammons should address at the September 19 forum?'” Suri said.
As of late Thursday evening, FAMU public relations had 218 friends on Facebook. Saunders said the account was created to keep students abreast of what is going on at the university.
“We always hear ‘we didn’t know about this until the last minute,'” Saunders said. “It is important to have effective ways of communicating.”
Saunders said the department will also launch a blog called, “RattlerWire.” It is expected to launch Sept. 24.
“It will include interesting news about the university in addition to a link for alumni news, a blog about student life, perspective students, Greek life, SGA and life after college,” Saunders said.
Saunders said there is also an e-newsletter that will be coming out the on the first and 15th of every month called, “FAMU Today,” in addition to the alumni publications and magazines.
The marketing department is also launching a statewide advertising campaign featuring a commercial with Ammons, Saunders said.
The second commercial will feature distinguished alumni and the third will feature businesses in Florida that have hired FAMU graduates.
The theme she said is, “You must not know about Florida A&M University.”
“Our goal is to make the community aware, boost enrollment, help restore the public’s faith in the university to manage its fiscal affairs and report milestones to the public,” Saunders said.
In addition, Ammons said he will make more of an effort to be available to students.
“My way of operating is that the time that I am on the campus, I will spend quality time with the students,” Ammons said.
He said he will be on campus a lot during the fall semester to deal with the issues of the university’s accreditation but that eventually other priorities will take focus.
“I am going to have to go and raise some money,” Ammons said. “And we are putting together our plans because I also have to go and recruit students.”
This is the fourth in a series of stories analyzing the progress made on the accreditation and financial accountability front, the members of Ammons’ new leadership team and his promise of open communication between the new administration and students, faculty and staff.