Provost’s explanation fails to satisfy students

An hour-long forum between the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication students, faculty and FAMU Provost Larry Robinson was held Thursday to clear up “misconceptions” about the university’s support of SJGC and its new building. Robinson’s explanation about the school’s status received mixed reactions from attendees.

“The comments he made were manufactured,” said Naeemah Khabir, a senior magazine production student and Journey magazine’s editor in chief. “Especially speaking with journalism students he should know, we want hard and concrete answers.”

“I feel he skipped around a lot of the questions,” said Charline Santos, a senior graphic design student from Lake Mary.

Director of the school’s graphic communication division, Arvid Mukes said Friday that he thought the forum was “very informative.”

“He answered the best that he could under the circumstances,” Mukes said.

At the forum, which was organized at Robinson’s request, faculty and students asked how building equipment – estimated at $4.2 million – would be financed. Questions about graphic arts resources, a dean search committee, and former Dean Robert Ruggles’ abrupt departure last month also surfaced.

To raise the money still needed, Robinson mentioned private sources of funding, a capital campaign and contracting grants. Robinson, who was appointed provost last April, said the SJGC building is a university priority.

“We moved journalism on the legislative budget request. (We) moved up the request up on the PECO list,” he said. “We have done everything we can except write a check for $4.2 million dollars.”

Robinson said if equipment is not purchased this year, it would be “salvaged from existing resources or resources that come available.” Equipment may be purchased in stages, he said.

Graphic communication staff and students also told Robinson they were using outdated software and graphic arts curriculum.

“We are not preparing our students,” said Thomas Rasheed, a graphic arts professor. “We are out of step.” Rasheed also said, “teachers outdated need to be retrained or leave FAMU.”

Robinson, who was the former director of the FAMU environmental science program, said in response, “I like to emphasize the positive things in the institution and then recognize the challenges and improve.”

Students also wanted a journalism or graphic communications student representative on the dean search committee, not a non-SJGC student from SGA. Search committees traditionally include a SGA official, Robinson said.

Robinson said he would allow only one SJGC student representative and he would need the student’s name soon so he can announce the committee. Robinson said he would like to see a dean named by next summer.

Near the end of the forum, discussion turned to the former dean’s departure last month. Rumors have circulated that prior to Ruggles’ resignation, he sent a “heated” letter to Robinson discussing the building, and in response Robinson told Ruggles to take an anger management course.

“Why was anger management the response from the provost?” asked Malcolm Glover, a junior broadcast student from Bowie, Maryland.Robinson declined to answer specifics about Ruggles’ departure.

“Discussing personnel is not appropriate,” Robinson said. “We owe each and everyone of us a certain amount of respect. That’s all I have to say about that.”

Angie Green can be reached at