Workshop addresses key issues

FAMU’s Board of Trustees and President Fred Gainous ensured faculty, staff and students that they would strengthen lines of communication, stabilize the university’s financial record and set a clear vision for the future of the university at last Monday’s Board of Trustees workshop in the Grand Ballroom.

“The future of FAMU is bright and the administration will do its diligence to work closely with this board and broaden the lines of communication,” Gainous said.

Mary Ellen Barrett, independent consultant from Naples, who gives training to organizations’ board of directors, facilitated the all day workshop and helped the trustees perform a SWOT analysis. This analysis examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the university and the Board of Trustees could encounter.

“The key critical issues are the crises that are most dire and need to be fixed,” Barrett said. “After identifying the critical issues … the board can then identify some steps that need to be taken to overcome those weaknesses.”

Some top issues were student housing, communications, technology, financial systems, business practices and insufficient support of classroom teachers.

While trustees understood the importance for enumerating these concerns, they also felt the need to give the university a basic vision for the future.

“The board needs a strategic plan,” said James Corbin, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

“One thing that I have noticed is that there seems to be some confusion concerning what is the job of the board and what is the role of the staff . the long-term vision should drive the strategic plan.”

Student Government Association President and Trustee Larry O. Rivers stressed the need for the board to maximize the use of all campus communication mediums and the need to streamline the communication process. Rivers also articulated the need for the board to make continued strides toward open and honest discussion that puts all concerns on the table.

Although a lot of emphasis was placed on better communication in the Gainous administration, most board members understood that the key issue would be straightening out the university’s financial books.

“We have the potential of having one of the greatest universities in America. The thing we have to do is get some money and get our financial house in order,” Corbin said. “This is one of the finest institutions in the state, but we are not where we ought to be.”

University officials were late in turning in financial statements, which resulted in a payment freeze by the Florida Department of Financial Services that affected vendors, business partners and top university officials.

Faculty Senate President, Mary Diallo agreed that the workshop was a step in the right direction.

“This workshop was an excellent start,” Diallo said. “The trustees presented excellent ideas and plans of action that are designed to move the university forward and accomplish specific goals.”

Malcom Glover can be reached at