Board of Trustees Chair Corbin out

First, former FAMU President Fred Gainous got the boot. Then, Love Collins III was released by Interim President Castell V. Bryant. Now, the curtain has closed on the Board of Trustees chairman.

James Corbin, appointed to the Board of Trustees in January 2002, was not reappointed by Gov. Jeb Bush Thursday, amending the FAMU administration for the third time in four months and proving that absolutely no position is secure.

It was nothing personal, according to the government officials.

“The governor wanted to give other people a chance,” said Jacob DiPietre, a Bush spokesman. “This was the opportunity to get someone else who wanted to serve.”

DiPietre said the decision had nothing to do with FAMU’s current financial crisis or last year’s Division 1-A fiasco. It was simply about getting a new face in the chairman’s position.

After repeated attempts, Corbin could not be reached for comment.

The BOT consists of 13 members. The governor and the Board of Governors each select six members and FAMU Student Body President fills the thirteenth seat.

The change came two weeks away from the first Board of Trustees meeting of 2005, which was scheduled for March 3. That meeting has been cancelled.

Corbin’s replacement has already been named.

W. George Allen, 68, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale, got the job. The 1958 FAMU alumnus applied for the position in December and learned Thursday he was selected to replace Corbin.

With Corbin’s experience and familiarity with FAMU, Allen must be able to handle a heightened level of media attention or public scrutiny.

Allen admitted that he doesn’t know a lot about the University’s problems and that he isn’t sure how he will even handle them. But he said his heart is in it.

“I don’t know what I can bring accept that I love FAMU and I have some energy and some time,” said Allen, whose term is through 2010.

For the past two months, Bryant has been in the process of settling into her new job and defining her relationship with the trustees – the same group that voted 9-4 to oust Gainous last September.

However, she said her focus is on the University.

“How we operate with the board is with legislation so I don’t care who’s on it,” Bryant said.

Bryant said she doesn’t expect Corbin’s dedication to diminish regardless of his role.

“There is no person with a more focused commitment than Jim Corbin,” she said. “I don’t expect his commitment to change whether he’s on the board or not.”

SGA President Virgil A. Miller was not sure why the governor had denied Corbin’s request for reappointment. He said Corbin was dedicated to the University, in spite of a reputation that branded him an agitator.

“Sometimes he was seen as a controversial figure,” Miller said. “But he was certainly an advocate for the University. I can only hope that attorney Allen will come and bring that same level of commitment.”

Miller said with the new president and new chairman, the dynamics of the decision-making may shift.

With all that has happened in the past few months, Miller said FAMU’s future is beyond the power of any one person. And just like in show business, one setback should not disrupt the school’s performance.

“The business of the university must go on,” Miller said. “And it will go on.”

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