On Aug. 31, a full seven days after the Fall semester began, 75 percent of Florida A&M students were on attendance hold and were unable to receive their financial aid on time.
You could ask Rattlers from any era since the school began distributing financial aid to its students in the 1960s, and most will tell you that the protocol for releasing these funds to students has been inefficient and, at times, unforgiving. But as Ammons’ still-new presidency trudges along with some impressive gains, the red-tape days of the Hill continue to haunt him.
In the Sept. 1 issue of The Famuan, in an article entitled, “Attendance holds delay financial aid,” Donald E. Palm, associate vice president of academic affairs directed the blame toward faculty members whom supposedly neglected to take attendance. It may be easy for Palm to direct fault toward faculty members, but the delay is more likely a result of miscommunication from the top.
Palm’s e-mailed statement to academic deans and department heads about professors failing to submit attendance indicates university operations in Lee Hall and Foote-Hilyer are still awry — and this fact should be alarming to students, but especially to Ammons.
Since the school was removed from probation in July 2008, Ammons and his team have voiced some pretty ambitious goals, including increasing enrollment to 15,000 by 2010. FAMU administrators missed this goal by 2,000 this fall and it’s a good thing they did. While FAMU may be structurally poised to handle a dramatic surge of scholars, its dated administrative protocol is clearly not ready for that type of growth.
In years prior professors were required to record first week attendance to the financial aid office. After these records were submitted, a week would go by and on the third Monday, students would receive their financial aid.
This year is a different story, however, and as hordes of new and returning students have been assured of the new leadership at FAMU, administrators seem bent on destroying this confidence with their chaotic operational practices.
As for this semester, FAMU administrators have once again fallen flat on their faces with financial aid distribution. Ammons must realize that the growth he hopes to see at the university can either be stimulated or deterred based on how prepared he and his team will be. This semester’s financial aid fiasco displays the disorganization that still plagues the bureaucracy we call FAMU.