Leaders gather to oust Trustee Bishop

The FAMU Board of Trustees has been in the spotlight lately, and as they prepare for the upcoming meeting that will address President Fred Gainous’ performance, they have yet another issue that they are forced to deal with.

BOT member Barney Bishop has been accused of demonstrating a lack of respect for the black members of the Board. Other members of the BOT say they believe Bishop has a stronger loyalty to Gainous than he does to the University.

Concerned community leaders, members of the Tallahassee Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance and other members of the media gathered at the Florida Press Center Tuesday at 10 a.m. to gain insight as to what issues have surfaced with Bishop and other members of the BOT.

Joseph Wright, a representative of the Tallahassee Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance, was at the meeting to show his deep concern for the future of the University. He took the place of the Rev. John Green, president of the alliance, who was unable to be in attendance.

The alliance has been in existence for over 30 years and includes at least 30 churches in the Tallahassee area.

The non-partisan alliance comprises of mostly pastors who are responsible for maintaining racial harmony and focus on fighting discrimination. This group serves as a coalition to address issues here in Tallahassee and throughout the state.

“Mr. Bishop has demonstrated a lack of respect for the African-American members of that Board by which he serves, and is continually using inflammatory rhetoric that has widened the racial gap on the Board,” said Wright, a pastor at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church.

Wright stressed the urgency for Gov. Jeb Bush, “at his earliest convenience, to remove Barney Bishop from the Board of Trustees at Florida A&M University.”

The trustees are selected by the governor and are expected to lead the University in a path that will be beneficial to not only the students, but to alumni, parents and other members of the community as well.

Some examples of these duties include approving bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, governing the admission of students and developing a strategic plan for the institution.

Bishop issued an open letter to the chairman and trustees, dated Sept. 20. This was in response to a previous letter that James Corbin, chairman of the BOT, wrote on Sept. 11.

“I don’t think this is a race issue,” said Bishop, who has been on the Board for two years. “That’s a scare tactic being used to get to the end result of what people want, and I think that it’s ludicrous.”

Bishop has also been said to have more of a loyalty to President Gainous than he does to the University.

“I do have loyalty to the office of the president because I think that if we get rid of the president under these circumstances, we will be doing a disservice to the University,” said Bishop, who is also the chair of Budget and Finance Committee within the BOT.

“I don’t think the president is perfect,” Bishop added. “He has made a lot of mistakes, but they don’t total up to warrant getting rid of him.

BOT members disagree and are adamant about the dismissal of both Bishop and Gainous.

“We believe Mr. Bishop has now become a professional liability to one of the world’s greatest historical black colleges in these Unites States and the country,” Wright added.

” I am not going to resign,” Bishop said. “I have every right to express my opinion, and I am going to do so.”

“All I am asking for is fairness and the way that the members of the BOT are treated, he said. “We are the most dysfunctional BOT in the state of Florida, and we have had our dirty laundry aired more than any other institution in the state.”

Robert Flakes, a former professor at FAMU, expressed his deep concern for the University and his desire for both Gainous and Bishop to be removed from their positions.

“Our president has done the best that he can do…but it’s not good enough,” said Flakes, the father of four children.

Wright said he does not have a problem with “our white brothers” becoming members of the BOT.

He feels that they should be given an introductory workshop that details the history of FAMU.

“We welcome our white brothers to be a part of what we do and how we do it, but not to try to convert us or control us,” Wright said. “Florida A&M is just as sacred to us as the Black Hills in the Dakota are to the Indians and Israel is to the Jews.”

Contact Tyre A. Sperling at tsperling2001@yahoo.com.,i/>