As the controversy surrounding Florida A&M University continues, the future of the highly regarded HBCU remains in question.
On the heels of major budget disputes, unexpected demotions and an election scandal, FAMU’s Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting early Tuesday to discuss litigation regarding campus wide re-elections and the approval of a newly appointed Chief Financial Officer.
The BOT voted 7-5 in favor of SGA’s decision to appeal circuit judge John Cooper’s injunction in the re-election of the university’s student body president.
The injunction was filed Thursday on the behalf of current SGA Vice President Justin Bruno, after the Student Supreme Court ruled in favor of a university-wide re-election following allegations of botched vote counts.
According to Cooper’s judgment, the re-election was supposed to take place Tuesday on the site in question – FAMU’s Orlando campus.
However the university filed a motion to dismiss the injunction late Monday, causing a halt to re-elections. University officials say they seek to keep these matters within the student defined, student governed internal procedures and out of the state court system.
“The university administration and the Board of Trustees respects the right of students to self govern in accordance with their own internal procedures,” BOT Chair Cleve Warren said in a recent statement.
SGA director Brandi Tatum echoed Warren’s thoughts, and also showed her support for SGA’s right to self govern.
“Student government is a student-ran process and they are governed by the students,” Tatum said. “I am fully in support of students running and handling and pulling out the duties that they are obligated to do through the student body constitution and statutes.”
It’s important to note that SGA’s decision to call for a re-election was well within the parameters perscribed by Florida statutes and the Florida Board of Governor’s regulations.
Despite this fact, university officials must now wait for further litigation in the series of appeals and injunctions surrounding SGA re-elections.
The Board of Trustees also unanimously approved a banking resolution Tuesday granting President Mangum, new CFO Angela Poole and associate vice president/assistant accountant Tiffany Holmes the power to sign checks and open accounts on the university’s behalf.
Poole, who has over 20 years of accounting experience, replaced former CFO Dale Cassidy after Mangum abruptly demoted him without notifying members of the board.
This lapse in communication is only the latest in the saga of transparency issues between Mangum and the board.
FAMU Trustee Matthew Carter said the board needs a “far more robust communication system,” citing accountability issues as the cause for lapse in transparency.
“I really do think a tremendous journey is ahead of us in terms of accountability,” Carter said.
Carter also called for the implementation of a public relations plan to improve both internal and external communications and transparency.
While it has yet to be made public whether or not the university will renew Mangum’s contract, which expires June 30, Warren said he will “address the issue” of transparency moving forward.