University president James Ammons, reportedly decided to take the $80,000 bonus guaranteed to him by the board of trustees this year.
The bonus comes as his staff members received a $1000 raise…and his faculty received nothing. Why, just last year, Ammons accepted an $113,000 bonus while all other state university system presidents declined their bounties. He accepted bonuses totaling $193,000, with full knowledge that his administration is the highest-paid among other administrations at even larger public universities.
Ammons’ acceptance of the bonus is a yet another signal to the university community that he is nothing more than a status quo leader.
Faculty members have not received a raise in six years. To put this painful fact into perspective, the freshman class of 2014 had just entered middle school the last time the faculty saw an increase in compensation. In those six years, readers will recall that FAMU was in the midst of administrative turmoil rife with corruption, nepotism and plummeting morale among the student body. Still, the tireless work of the faculty was a beacon of light in the shadow of fraudulence at the school.
Aside from the incompetence that loomed in Lee Hall and Foote-Hilyer, FAMU was still recognized as a stellar research institution by the National Science Foundation; Black Enterprise magazine continued to encourage black students to attend the university; in spite of institutional disarray, nursing and pharmacy students achieved a 100 percent pass rate on state certification examinations and the Pre-Law program notably funneled a large number of black students into the nation’s finest law schools uninterrupted. The list goes on.
None of these accomplishments were realized without at least a haphazard effort from the faculty even the university’s present journey back to preeminence. If not enough, these talented few acquired these accolades for the university, often without adequate resources.
And while the university has made quite literally a handful of noteworthy improvements since Ammons’ arrival, the current administration leaves a lot to be desired, perhaps too much.
As Ammons makes plans to enjoy his bonus, he must retire to bed every evening with thoughts of a neglected faculty. The way he shamelessly ignored his faculty members with the decision to deny them raises speaks volumes of his priorities and specifically his capacity as an effective leader. What’s more, these underpaid individuals must occasionally look their boss in the eye with the thought that he must be indifferent toward them.
Nonetheless, to the faculty: the student body appreciates your work and commitment to upholding none other than the highest of academic integrity. And to Ammons: as Abraham Lincoln famously said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”