New chairwoman of the Florida Board of Governors, Sheila McDevitt, visited Florida A&M University’s campus Thursday.
Rosalind Fuse-Hall, chief of staff for the Office of the President and liaison for the board of trustees, said the purpose for Governor McDevitt’s visit was to see what was going on at the campus and to develop stronger relationships with the university and the board of trustees.
Communications department head, Sharon Saunders, expressed feelings about McDevitt’s visit.
“It was a pleasure to have Board of Governors Chair Sheila McDevitt on our campus today,” Saunders said. “She had an opportunity to sit in on our board meeting to learn more about some of our activities, issues and achievements.”
Saunders said at McDevitt’s level, it was important to get a snapshot of the institution. through the decision-making process.
“She had an opportunity to tour our campus and this will provide her with a personal perspective about our FAMU and campus life,” she said.
The board of trustees held a meeting Wednesday to discuss the university’s budget.
“The year 2007- 2008 took about a $5 million dollar cut,” McDevitt explained concerning FAMU’s current budget status. “This year effective in July took another $3 million which is a consistent percentage with all of the universities.”
McDevitt said she hopes the budget cuts will subside soon.
“We hope to look at what the projections are coming up in November or whether the governor will call for further cuts or restraints,” McDevitt said. ” I don’t think that there’s a particular thing that FAMU is doing differently from many of the universities.”
The immediate affects of the cuts will be felt in enrollment, according to McDevitt.
” It means you can’t grow as rapidly as you like, you can’t expand your enrollment, and you can’t hire more and more faculty, you have to make do with what you have,” she said.
McDevitt also said that FAMU’s status as the only land-grant institution in Florida puts it at an advantage over other schools. The designation allows for the school to develop in horticulture and agriculture programs.
McDevitt stated that for the mandated tuition for the 2008-2009 school year, there was a modest 6 percent increase that the legislature recommended.
“We have to recognize tuition must go up a reasonable amount,” McDevitt said. “Students really are going to have to pick up little bit greater share of the cost of their education. Right now it’s such a bargain.”
McDevitt said the development of new initiatives could help bolster the state school system.
“We need to create programs that will allow the lower middle income families to be able to obtain aid.”
McDevitt expressed confidence in the future of the university.