Members of faculty and staff were surprised to hear the news that Florida A&M President James Ammons, resigned Wednesday after widespread criticism of the leadership of the university.
The resignation comes after drum major Robert Champion’s parent’s added Florida A&M to a wrongful death suit. According to the autopsy report Champion died because of “hemorrhagic shock” due to a long standing hazing ritual.
The lawsuit claims FAMU officials did not take enough action to stop hazing at the university. According to Champion’s parents, this was a necessary move contributing to cleaning house on the campus.
On June 7, the Board of Trustees voted no-confidence in Ammons. The vote was due to the hazing fatality that occurred November 2011.
There are mixed emotions concerning Ammons’ resignation among the FAMU administration, faculty and staff.
In support of him stepping down, president of the faculty union, Elizabeth Davenport believes that “Ammons’ resignation is a fresh start for FAMU, and the university needed to begin moving in the right direction.”
Davenport continued: “This doesn’t put a damper on what the fifth-year president did do for the university. He was a charismatic leader, but charisma can only take you so far.”? Surprised by the news of Ammons’ resigning, Coordinator for Graduate Studies Michaela House said: “It’s a little sad because I know that he was really a family-oriented person and loved FAMU as a whole. With the hazing situation I feel that he had more pressure on him as president of the university forcing him to resign.”
“We are a ship with no captain,” said Karen Colston, a administrative assistant for FAMU. “It is a travesty that we are losing our president.”In the letter directed to Solomon Badger III, chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ammons states that though he is resigning from his position as president he will continue as a tenured professor working on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives.
Michael Jefferson, Student Government Administration Vice-President elect, said, “We as an administration are surprised but we are holding together as a university and celebrate in the fact that Dr. Ammons is staying on as a professor at FAMU.”
Speculation have surrounded the appointment of Ammons’ replacement and whether that person will be able to do it.
In the resignation letter Ammons wrote, “When the next president experiences her or his transition in, she or he will very likely find additional challenges.”
Trustees have not yet chosen an interim president. They are scheduled on Monday to meet for a call-in session to discuss the “severity” of the president’s resignation. Trustees called for the urgent meeting, saying that they needed to quickly discuss the future of the presidency and Ammons’ role within the university in the coming months. His resignation is scheduled to take effect on Oct. 11.
“It is going to be a hard job but now the real reconstruction can begin,” said Davenport.