Accusations of bad communications, unaccountability and disrespect were main topics at the board of trustees meeting June 9.
Rufus Montgomery, board of trustees Chairman, presented to committee members and the general public a plethora of emotions, concerns and emails in regard to the leadership of Florida A&M University President Dr. Elmira Magnum. Montgomery’s accusations included Mangum sending emails with grammatical errors, questionable hiring practices of FAMU faculty and staff, and “not smiling back at him” when he smiled at her.
Montgomery referred to the BOT as the employer and Mangum as its employee and she should be reaching out more. Montgomery seems to have a different direction to which the FAMU’s leadership should be heading.
“Dr. Mangum needs to hit the reset button” said Montgomery, “failure to take steps to correct [the problems] is the definition of insanity,” said Montgomery.
Mangum addressed the BOT and expressed that she had never felt such disrespect in private and public by some members of the board. Nevertheless she is committed to moving forward in a professional manner. She did urge members to contact her with any concerns.
“The phone rings both ways.” said Mangum. “I am focused on making the university a best in class university and providing our students with an education that will enable them to compete in the 21st century global economy.”
Torey Alston, Chair of Special Committee on Board Governance, confirmed that all board members have the right to express their thoughts and opinions. The board followed all regulations in regard to the meeting.
“The BOT Meeting and recent discussion between the board and President created an opportunity to discuss board governance, protocol and how to improve the working relationship with the board and President,” said Alston.
Narayan Persaud, who served as the past president of the Faculty Senate and member of the BOT, felt the BOT meeting will not reflect negatively on FAMU but acknowledges the reality that trustees hire and fire Presidents.
“Some of the issues raised at the meeting could have been resolved if trustees had the freedom to talk beforehand. FAMU's BOT is not alone in this regard,” said Persuad. “It was quite evident that the board and President need to establish clear lines of communication and converse with some regularity. Individual interests, likes and dislikes should not be to the detriment of the institution, in this case FAMU.”
Several FAMU students were scattered throughout the crowd at the BOT meeting. Giles Williams, MBA student from Atlanta, feels the BOT discussion was a wakeup call to university officials and calls for more of a focus around students.