Board of Trustees looking to solidify university president

Interim President Larry Robinson during an interview
following his presidential appointment | Photo credit: Alddernico Brioche

The Board of Governors (BOG) has helped Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Board of Trustees overcome the obstacle of granting approval in bypassing a national search for a university president.

Following the decision, trustees began their evaluations on Interim President Larry Robinson and his performance for the previous academic year. FAMU’s Board of Trustees have paid a consultant to investigate whether Robinson’s skillset fits the job.

In the Florida Board of Governors meeting on Thursday, there was little discussion on the approval of extending Robinson’s contract as interim president to September of next year.

Following changes in committee guidelines, this will mark the first time that the BOG has waived a national presidential search.

The FAMU Foundation’s Board of Directors was in full support of the decision made. Josetta Coleman, vice chair of the board, spoke on behalf of their support.

“We want stability at Florida A&M, but even more, we want a leader who interfaces effectively with corporate America and varied constituents,” Coleman said.   “One who has a vision that Florida A&M University remains on our current competitive trajectory.”

Coleman said that Robinson strengthens the university and puts a great deal of his focus on students, academic quality, and the enhancement and efficiency of program management, which aligns with the BOG performance metrics.

Elizabeth Davenport, President of United Faculty of Florida (UFF) FAMU, agreed with the approval of the bypass but still said that Robinson has more to prove.

“I believe that a search at this time would be counterproductive and expensive,” Davenport said. “Those expenses could be better used on student and faculty needs.”

Davenport said that she was unsure if Robinson has effectively displayed his leadership style. In the end, she said that he has a “take charge” attitude seeing that FAMU has a “variety of problems” that need to be handled quickly.

Dr. David White, associate professor coordinator of science education and faculty senator at the university, said there should be a comprehensive search done before the next university president is solidified.

“If he is chosen through a university sanctioned search committee, I would have no problem,” said White. “However, the BOG deemed that the process of a search committee is not necessary. I totally disagree with this decision.”

White expressed that search committees give voices to all stakeholders including students and faculty. Without this committee or search process, stakeholders are silenced.

Trustees are set to have Robinson’s performance evaluations done by Nov. 17 and the governance committee will have his draft done by Nov. 22.

The board’s next meeting is to take place on Nov. 30 where the governance committee will present Robinson with his final evaluations.