D-Day for FAMU

A team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will visit Florida A&M University tomorrow to check on the progress of the institution since it was placed on probation in June.

“We will show that we have met the SACS requirements related to areas of governance, finance and management of the university,” said James Ammons, the university’s tenth president.

The university was placed on probation because it was found in violation of 10 of SACS standards for reaffirmation. The 35 findings in financial audit for the fiscal year ending June 2006 also weighed in the decision to put the university on probation. The state auditor general conducts the financial audit every two years.

The administration submitted a monitoring report to SACS in early September tracking the progress that has been made so far.

When the university submitted the report, officials in the administrative and financial services department of the university said that 90 percent of the issues were addressed and the other 10 percent were in the process of being addressed.

Ammons said he is still confident that most of the issues had been resolved.

“Once we identified the root of the problems, we began to immediately address them, which included providing appropriate training to the responsible individuals,” Ammons said.

Maurice Holder, who is also on the president’s executive council and the university budget and planning council, said he is optimistic about the upcoming visit.

“I think this is a splendid opportunity for the university to show that we have corrected many of the problems that were cited by SACS four months ago,” said Holder, who is also faculty senate president. “The new administration has done a superb job of bringing the financial problems to a quick solution.”

Ammons said his SACS leadership team has continuously worked on the SACS concerns. Holder said this visit would help the university move forward.

“This will shed some light on what we have done and give SACS an opportunity to tell us where we have to go,” Holder said.

Some students on campus are nervous about the status of the university’s accreditation.

“I hope that they’re [university] ready,” said Samson St. Remy, 24, a senior pre-med student from Miramar. “Right now everyone’s hoping for the best.”

St. Remy said he and several of his fellow students have seen improvements in the university.

“They have kept up with a lot of improvements they said they would,” St. Remy said. “Information I’ve gotten from financial aid has been clear. Everything they’ve said has been on point.”

Abdul Sharif, a political science student, agrees.

“I have to say financial aid is something I’ve never seen before,” said Sharif, 21, a senior from Miami. “All of my situations were handled as soon as possible.”

Sharif said he is pleased with the changes he has seen and the attitude of the new president.

“He is more hands on,” he said. “His confidence in speaking with us gives me confidence that we will be okay.”

The SACS team will meet with students, faculty and staff, chosen beforehand, during their three-day visit. But Ammons said these sessions are not open to the media or the general public because of SACS protocol.

“This gives us a good head start to prepare for the SACS visit for accreditation,” Holder said. “I feel rather confident.”

FAMU’s process for reaffirmation was slated to begin this year, but because of the probationary status SACS has postponed the process until 2008.

“While the team will make a recommendation, a decision regarding FAMU’s probationary status will be made during the SACS meeting Dec. 8-11,” Ammons said.