Florida A&M’s board of trustees voted Thursday to remove university president Elmira Mangum in a 10-1 vote witnessed by scores of students, faculty, alumni and others in the grand ballroom.
They all wanted to share their thoughts about Mangum’s performance before trustees took that critical vote that ultimately ousted the president who has been at the helm of the university for three years.
Business professor Clyde Ashley said, “At the last meeting, there were opportunities with the grad students you could have resolved, opportunities with parents you could have resolved, opportunities with collective parking, opportunities to work with the board of trustees to extend your contact. Board of trustees, it's time to move on. FAMU must move forward.”
The board agreed. In the 10-1 vote, acting student government president Jaylen Smith was the lone holdout.
Smith, Student Government Association Student President Brandon Johnson and other students attended a town hall meeting Wednesday and held a sit in protest throughout the night before the vote.
“I, trustee Smith, and other student leaders sat and slept outside these doors last night as you once again did not answer our call. You all have a fiduciary responsibility for the best interests of FAMU; yet, you do not consult with the number one stakeholders of this university repeatedly — over and over again," said Johnson as students behind him echoed their approval.
Trustee Thomas Dortch wanted Johnson and others to know that the board’s decision wasn’t an abrupt one.
"There is a difference between forcing out and an agreement that's been negotiated, “Dortch said. “But let me be clear, the board of trustees — according to contract — did not have to negotiate."
After the vote, Mangum said she will be going on sabbatical. During that time, she will be paid her salary of $425,000. Once she returns, she will be given the choice of whether or not she would like to serve as a tenured professor.
She added that there was clearly no way forward, but she put in a word of advice to the board: "I would just suggest that going forward, the board try to place honor and integrity as part of its negotiation with the future president."
Trustees also approved the terms of which they will look for a new president. The board agreed that they would find a potential presidential candidate and will offer a one-year contract if deemed appropriate.
"It is my executive privilege to propose a motion based on this person's experience,” said Trustee Chairman Kelvin Lawson. “They have demonstrated their leadership position over a number of years … With that being said, I propose a motion that we make Larry Robinson our interim president."
FAMU Professor Larry Robinson, who has served as interim president for the university on two different occasions, stepped in after Mangum left the board meeting. Robinson thanked trustees for their vote of confidence and jokingly said perhaps the third time’s the charm.
Then, he added, “FAMU has a long tradition of excellence and I am committed to ensuring that that tradition continues as we focus on the future.