Faculty seeks answers at bag luncheon

President Fred Gainous fielded questions about the university’s recent financial woes and plans for last year’s budget surplus on Wednesday during the third brown bag faculty luncheon.

Gainous opened the meeting with a statement addressing the university’s late financial reports. He said the university is doing everything it can to make sure that financial reports for the last fiscal year are accurate and complete before handing in the paperwork to the state.

“There will be no slacking in the line now,” Gainous said. “We have operated in the past years with a lot of slacking, and now it’s time to tighten up the line.”

The university missed the original Sept. 30 due date to the state, as well as the extended deadline of Oct. 31. The Department for Finance Administration responded by freezing payments to all FAMU vendors and business partners – with the exception of university payroll.

Gainous said that some of the financial problems date back to 1990. Outside of the missed deadlines, Gainous was not specific about what the “financial problems” were and are currently. But he did say the university plans to use the nearly $9 million surplus from last year’s budget to rectify the problems.

Of the surplus, Gainous said $3.6 million went to Public Education Capital Outlay funds, $3.2 million went to enrollment and $1.2 million went to miscellaneous expenses. He said he plans to use the remaining funding and next year’s anticipated $9 million surplus for equipment, facilities and faculty.

Later in the 90-minute luncheon Clyde Ashley, assistant business professor, spoke in support of Gainous during an emotional plea to the faculty to back Gainous. Ashley said he attended the teleconference between the Board of Trustees and the administration Monday, and said witnessing BOT members attack Gainous was upsetting.

“I think, being an economist, that we are currently on track. FAMU is to blame but also the state is to blame for not capturing or pointing out the problem,” Ashley said. “[Gainous] will make sure that the university is fiscally sound.”

Ashley also said he believes it is unfair and inaccurate to blame Gainous for the university’s delay in submitting financial statements to the state, considering the current administration is trying to fix problems from the past. Gainous became university president in July 2002.

Gainous agreed with Ashley.

“The Board of Regents knew and did nothing. Others knew and did nothing,” Gainous said after Ashley’s statement.

Gainous told the nearly 50 faculty members seated that it is now up to him and his administration to fix the university’s financial problems for good.

Later, a professor also said miscommunication between the Office of the Registrar and faculty is a problem. The professor said the office will request a grade for a student who showed up to class, but was never enrolled.

Gainous responded with, “Half of the budget goes to financial aid. And because it’s an HBCU, access to education has become a major part of the mission of the university.

“If we do not give consideration we are no different from than any university in the city or state.”

Gainous also said students who are not enrolled are a liability to the university.

Jessica Sattler can be reached at jsattler19@hotmail.com.