Students and Faculty members joined the Faculty Senate of Florida A&M University along with Board of Governors member, Alan Levine; State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser III and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs; and Jan Ignash, vice chancellor for academic to discuss the university’s work plan.
Levine had much to say about graduation and retention rates at FAMU, but one of the main focal points during the meeting was on a recent opinion piece by Levine that was published in the Tallahassee Democrat.
In his article, Levine mentioned the lack of harmony shared between FAMU’s newly selected president, Dr. Elmira Mangum, her expected respect toward the Board of Trustees as well as FAMU students marching to the capital to support the president.
At the meeting, Bettye Grable, Faculty Senate president and a FAMU trustee welcomed Levine to the floor as he discussed the performance of FAMU academically, the degrees being provided at FAMU as well as graduation and retention rates.
“Today at FAMU, 39 percent of your entering freshmen can expect to get a degree in six years,” Levine said. “61 percent may not expect to have a degree in six years. What comes with that?”
Levine continued by praising FAMU for admitting students coming from low income backgrounds with low GPAs but also addressed the effect when it comes to graduation rates.
Former interim president at FAMU and co-chair of the committee, Larry Robinson says, “I think the important thing to understand that students who come from low income backgrounds aren't necessarily students who have low GPAs. The real dialogue is how do we make sure we provide students a realistic opportunity to be successful at FAMU regardless of their economic circumstances.”
Levine proceeded to talk about FAMU’s high percentage of offering financial assistance as well as competing with other universities but faculty members were eager to question Levine about his quantitative research and whether or not the university should be compared to other schools that receive higher funding.
"Several of the faculty senators expressed their concerns about how those metrics impact FAMU and proposed some different ways looking at the contributions that FAMU makes to the state university system,” Robinson said.
During the meeting questions about Levine’s opinion piece in the Democrat were also asked after he voluntarily brought it up during his initial introduction.
“There’s people i’m sure that were offended by things I may have said in my editorial, that was not the intent. The intent was to be provocative,” Levine Said.
Dr. Lillie Brown, associate professor of English at Florida A&M University and Faculty Senate member says,”I think it was interesting that Levine addressed his opinion piece because there were and are faculty who were greatly offended by that.”
Levine commented on the many other options for FAMU such as partnering with community colleges to ensure an easier transition for some students. He shared that he ultimately wants students at FAMU to get a degree and get a job.
After the meeting was adjourned, students and faculty members were able to address unanswered questions outside of the given time frame.
“I think it was a very fruitful meeting,” Brown said. I don't know if anything was particularly solved by that but I think the dialogue is what will help us move forward.”