FAMU board of trustees discuss university’s future

The Florida A&M board of trustees held a workshop last Wednesday to confront the budget cuts the school will face in the upcoming school year. The cut will be anywhere from $9-13 million.

Chief Financial Officer Teresa Hardee and vice president, said she put together a leadership team to inform people about the economy and the effect it will have on FAMU.

To save FAMU’s landmark programs such as nursing, pharmacy and business, President James Ammons said lay-offs are unavoidable.

According to Hardee, as many as 247 people may be laid off.

Furthermore, Hardee said other options will be eliminating programs, salary reductions and combining summer schools session.

Hardee said because of the abrupt decline in state funding, higher education is facing a crisis. The trustees are implementing new plans to save money and bring in more revenue.

Hardee said the stimulus funding FAMU received is being used to create and save jobs.

Because it will be gone by June 30 of next year, she said it is only a temporary fix. She said this means $17-21 million will be gone from the budget. Hardee said if the stimulus money isn’t used by that date the school would have to send it back.

“We have no intentions of doing that,” said Hardee.

As stated in the workshop handout, 85 undergraduate and 20 graduate courses are being taught by faculty funded with stimulus money this semester. At least 2,724 students were enrolled in these courses. This is down from last semester’s numbers: 176 undergraduate and 30 graduate courses, as well as 6,693 students being taught by those professors.

Student Body President Gallop Franklin said, “One main thing we’re definitely focusing on is talking to the legislature. Right now they want to decide what to cut; we think it’s imperative that the university decide what programs are cut.”

“It looks like we’re going to make cuts where we can keep our signature programs,” said Franklin, “We’re looking at getting rid of programsWith 12,274 students enrolled this school year, FAMU has reached its highest enrollment since 2004. Hardee said the more students FAMU had, the more funding it can get form the state. She said the Board of Governor will meet on Feb 22 to discuss the revenue, and if they can release any more money.

Hardee, along with her staff, has come up with a plan called Transformation Through Technology Enhancement–T3E. She said it would also enhance business operations.

Students would be able to get their refund checks on their Rattler card.

In addition to receiving funding for enrollment, FAMU also receives money from the Florida lottery. Hardee said the school received its first distribution, approximately $1.4 million, two weeks ago, compared to last year. She also said the funds from the lottery were late this year.

Last year, the school received it in January. According to Hardee, the funding from the lottery has decreased because people aren’t playing it as much. She said the decrease may result in instant budget cuts.

Auxiliary services are another source of revenue for FAMU. This includes food and parking services, as well as housing. FAMU received an estimated total of $28,000,000 this school from auxiliary serves. Hardee is expecting this amount to increase by an estimated $3 million by 2012.

Trustee — Langsto saidFAMU also has one of the best, if not the best, revenues in the state from license plates. He said the school received an estimated $450,000 from license plates.

Ammons said another way he plans on adding money to the budget is taking the FAMU brand to other cities. Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris and Ammons are working on a distant education.

“Our ultimate goal is to offer complete degree programs online,” said Hughes Harris.
She added that they haven’t decided which degree programs will be offered, but some courses are offered as distance education now via blackboard. She also said they are still in the process of establishing it.

“What we are doing now, is reinforcing our infrastructure because we won’t to make sure there aren’t any glitches. Faculty training will be important friendships, but we’ve gained a few, too. There were some people we just had to leave behind.”