Board of Trustees address issues

Several issues were discussed during the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

Among them were a financial update of the University, approval of the future construction of two new facilities on campus, discussion of state appropriations and an official farewell to student Trustee Virgil Miller.

Interim President Castell V. Bryant gave a status report on the status of the University’s finances, and the steps officials are making to ensure FAMU ends the academic year in the black.

The moratorium Bryant issued March 16, involving University spending, is still in affect and she said the freeze will probably be in place until the end of the year.

Trustee and SGA President Virgil Miller said Bryant is the only person who can make the decision to end the freeze, “once she gets a good handle on the financial status (of the University).”

Miller,23, a graduate student from West Palm Beach, said he believes the freeze was “necessary at the time.”

At the beginning of the freeze University spending was at nearly $3 million but as of March 31, it decreased to about $450,000.

“(FAMU) is in excellent shape and we have challenges, but nothing we can’t overcome,” Bryant said.

Bill Tucker, a physics professor, asked Bryant about faculty raises because there was a zero percent pay raise in the 2004-2005 school year and there is no current offer for next year.

Bryant responded, “There is an absolute need to get a handle on finances across the board-until then I can’t discuss raises for anyone.”

She also said her reasoning for the payroll audit last week was to “get a handle on employees and the categories they’re in. We have a number of people in faculty lines that aren’t teaching.”

Trustee Barney Bishop voiced his problem involving state appropriations because federal reports given to trustees by Bryant were clear, while the state reports were not.

Bishop said all information should be presented to trustees because “in a time when we have financial problems, there is almost $4 million available (for FAMU) to get from the state.”

During the public comment period, physics professor Robin Kennedy presented the BOT with problems his department is having with the FAMU Laser Ablation Facility.

In the fall, the director of the National High Magnetic Laboratory kicked FAMU’s LAF professors out of their laboratory space and in February, Bryant asked NHMFL for “time to look into the issues regarding the demand for FAMU to move its equipment.”

The director responded to Bryant by saying FAMU LAF professors can no longer be supported by NHMFL.

Kennedy told BOT members that university equipment is now unsecured in the loading dock outside of NHMFL and something must be done.

Bryant said University officials are dealing with the situation.

The University is also planning the creation of a new FAMU DRS facility and a Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium. During the meeting, BOT members selected a design team and construction company for the two projects.

Miller said the construction process will start soon.

“(The new DRS facility) will be on the corner of Orange Avenue and Wahnish Way. The new gymnasium will be in the area of the new Recreational Center (near Osceola Street and Wahnish Way),” Miller explained.

BOT members officially bid farewell to Miller, who is graduating in April, at the end of the meeting. He said Tuesday was “one of the first times he has been optimistic about the future of the University.”

Miller thanked BOT members and introduced future SGA President-elect Ramon Alexander.

Alexander said he has “big shoes to fill.

“FAMU has been blessed with a talented, courageous and God-fearing man in Virgil Miller,” Alexander said.

“I have no doubt he will go down in history as one of the greatest SGA presidents in the history of the institution.”

The next BOT meeting in June will be Alexander’s first as a trustee.

Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at