Eight months after the death of Robert Champion, Florida A&M University President James Ammons submitted his resignation.
In a letter to Board of Trustees Chairman Solomon Badger III, Ammons wrote, “After considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family, I have decided to resign from my position as president in order to initiate my retirement on Oct.11, 2012.”
He plans to stay as a full tenured professor and continue his work on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives.
President Ammons resigns the same day the parents of Robert Champion, the drum major who was beaten in the “Bus C” hazing ritual, included FAMU in their wrongful death lawsuit.
Word of Ammons resignation spread around the campus shocking many students, faculty and alumni.
Candace Daymon, an English and theatre student from Tallahassee, said she was shocked that Ammons resigned because he said he would make an effort to regain the confidence of the Board of Trustees.
“I wanted him to stay. I wanted him to do better. I wanted him to do the best that he could to maintain the stability of the university,” said Daymon. “But at the same time, so much information is coming out, maybe he felt it was in the best interest of the university. I feel like as if everything was being done with the best interest of the university, then I’m OK with it.”
This announcement comes after majority of the Board of Trustees voted “no-confidence,” in President Ammons last month. FAMU Trustee Bill Jennings presented the motion after the discovery that 101 members of the band were not enrolled at FAMU but were allowed to travel and received per diem payments.
Ammons came under criticism last month from the Board of Governors for admitting students who do not meet the university application requirements, for it’s four-year graduation rate at 12 percent and for it’s six-year graduation rate at 39 percent.
Johnathan Moses, a third-year business administration student from Miami and a junior senator, said he was frustrated at first but believes that there was “outside pressures” that Ammons faced.
“This is an action that could have taken place months ago and here we are three or four weeks before school starts and that puts us as the students and as a university in a very difficult position,” Moses said.
Moses: “I want to move forward as a student body and as a university. We have had a lot of bad press. We’ve had a lot of eyes on the university, as well.”
“So right now as far as moving forward, I’m just looking forward to get somebody here with some strong, strong leadership-that they keep us focused, that has a vision and a clear goal to get us out of this negative light,” Moses said.
Champion was killed on Nov. 19, in Orlando following a band performance. Thirteen band members were charged in Champions death, eleven have been charged with felony counts of hazing and two others were charged with misdemeanors.
Ammons, the university’s 10th president, said his resignation will take effect in the fall. The resignation would come eight days after the school officially celebrates its 125th birthday.
FAMU alumni expressed their feelings about Ammons‘ resignation on various social media platforms. Florida Rep. Alan Williams praised Ammons‘ leadership.
“Ammons strong leadership and work to ensure that FAMU remains a beacon of academic excellence,” said Williams.
Ammons is the second state university president to announce his resignation. Last month, University of Florida president Bernie Machen, announced his resignation effective when his contract expires Dec. 31, 2013, to stay as a dentistry professor.