After meeting on various issues for four and a half hours, the fate of Florida A&M University’s president is still in limbo. FAMU trustees met Wednesday morning to discuss President Elmira Mangum’s performance evaluation — a document that would have helped determine if Mangum was to leave or stay.
The board decided, however, to hold off on making a definitive decision on Mangum’s fate until the September trustees meeting. Trustees clarified that they did not want to extend Mangum’s contract beyond April 2017 when they voted against a motion for an extension in a 7-5 vote.
Despite the decision of the trustees, some FAMU supporters stood behind Mangum. FAMU alumni Dr. Carolyn Jones said the trustees hired change and they should keep it that way.
“There are thousands of alumni around the country that support our president, and we want her contract extended so we can continue to move FAMU forward,” said Jones. “It’s been 46 years since we have had a non-Famuan in leadership … what this board did two and a half years ago was hire change. You hired change.”
Others who voiced their opinions during the meeting’s public comments did not agree with Johnson. Former trustee and FAMU professor Narayan Persaud was a board member who selected Mangum as president.
He said, “FAMU has lost its vibrancy. I hope you have the courage to make the right decision.”
Another person that spoke didn’t give her name. Instead, she identified herself only as a mom of a FAMU student. She said her daughter believes in FAMU. She, after attempts to reach out and speak to the president or people in her office, no longer believed. She said she felt disrespected after repeated attempts to reach someone.
“I would think you’d be a little more engaging to the parents,” she said. “Listen to the heart of the parents. Listen to the heart of the students and make a change.”
Instead of making a change Wednesday, trustees preferred to identify options and have a subcommittee present those options at the September meeting.
The board’s steps on Wednesday may sound oddly familiar to early June when Mangum’s work performance and talk of renewing her contract was reviewed. According to the June 10 meeting, Chair Kelvin Lawson indicated that Mangum’s employment agreement required the board to have a discussion with her regarding an extension or renewal on or before June 30, 2016.
Meanwhile, Mangum rejected Lawson’s request to extend the “decision-making deadline” 45 days past the June 30 deadline. The board decided to “take no action” on the president’s contract at that time. Lawson felt the board needed more data from the second year’s performance reviews before making a decision. In doing this, Mangum’s contract is set to expire April 2017 by default.
Trustee Thomas Dortch said the decision made back in June is what attributed to Wednesday’s outcome.
“I think now that the decision was made in June — that there will not be a negotiation, and when she sent an email sometime back saying there will be no discussions on her contract — it left us out here on a limb,” said Dortch.
After hearing FAMU Student Government Association president and BOT member Jaylen Smith voice his concerns about the students being affected by current events surrounding Mangum, the board decided they will establish a set committee to represent the student body and faculty and will hold off on making a decision until September.