Time for action, responsibility

FAMU has managed to keep its poor record intact as the spring semester draws to a close. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that an internal audit of the hiring of Kenneth Bell as an assistant director of facilities revealed the improper filing of paperwork and a lack of job qualifications.

The University is continually proving that it is unable to handle its affairs in an effective manner, and now the damage to its reputation is bordering on irreparable.

The argument about Bell’s employment indicates he was hired before the position was officially established and then began working with pay before his personnel paperwork was completed and even before he submitted a resume. Beyond the obvious nepotism involved with the hiring of Bell – who worked under former vice president of administrative affairs, Tom Hanna, at Tallahassee Community College – the University’s disregard for proper procedure is unsettling. Such activities are becoming increasingly commonplace and acceptable at FAMU because University officials are intent on being defensive or avoidant with issues that arise.

There must come a point when administrators take responsibility for and steps to correct inappropriate practices on campus.

Hanna admitted the paperwork was done improperly by FAMU staff but did not indicate if actions had been taken to reprimand the responsible parties or if the situation that allowed improper paperwork to be filed was fixed.

Instead of degrading the audit by stating, “It’s a piece of trash,” Hanna should have focused on the efforts to correct the problem.

However, as with most problems at FAMU that play out in the public eye, the administration is not handling the Bell situation properly. Bell – who is making $75,000 a year with only a high-school diploma – is keeping silent, and FAMU’s reputation is growing more tarnished.

The University must make a concerted effort to replace the negativity that mars its name. FAMU’s reputation can take no more major hits such as this year’s Division I-A fiasco, late financial statements and Bell’s paperwork.

If the administration does not step up to do its job more thoroughly, our biggest concern will not be whether or not the University will move to Division I-A within the next five years.