Absorption talks only rumors, for now

You have heard about it. You’ve read about it. Now it is in your newspaper.

The take over. Nike did it to Converse. Macy’s did it to Burdines. Verizon just did it to MCI.

For years, people have wondered if the rumor that Florida State University would acquire FAMU could ever ripen into reality.

Takeover talks began in the late 1960’s when the state of Florida began to desegregate its university system. Conventional thinking in the state Legislature at the time was that institutions such as FAMU were no longer necessary if black students could attend FSU.

FAMU alumni and undergraduates alike worked to make the University an academic lighthouse even among white institutions. Their achievements muted the mumblings of a merger.

Now, with FAMU’s financial picture looking eerily similar to that of Morris Brown College, and talks of financial bailouts surfacing, the rumor of absorption has once again reared its head.

In the September/October 2004 issue of Journey Magazine, former university President Fred Gainous vehemently denied the prospects of a buy out or a merger ever happening between the two institutions.

Gainous called the rumors scare tactics of cowards to frighten, control and intimidate people.

“I don’t know of any effort to do that,” Gainous said. “I think it’s unfortunate that anyone would engender that kind of fear in individuals.”

Roosevelt Wilson, publisher and editor of the the Capital Outlook said he believes there will be attempts to take over FAMU, but not necessarily by FSU.

“There are some elements in the state Legislature that think that FSU probably doesn’t get as much as they should because of FAMU,” Wilson said.

Lawrence G. Abele, provost of FSU, said relations between FAMU and FSU are excellent and that FAMU students should not be worried about a hostile takeover.

The two universities currently have joint ventures; the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and co-ops set up in FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.

“At FAMU, I got to experience the positive aspects of black culture, because you hear so much about the negative aspects of FAMU, like the money not being in order and stuff,” said Donnie Garner, president of FSU’s Black Student Union. “Overall, my experience at FAMU was very positive.”

Garner was a co-op student in the SJGC.

Even with all the talk of FAMU becoming “FSU South,” remaining a myth for now, Abele said that FSU would gladly accept FAMU students and their credits if FAMU ever did succumb to its financial troubles. However, he doubts the University would ever reach that point.

“There is no remote possibility of that,” Abele said. “FAMU is having some problems right now, but they aren’t having any problems they can’t resolve.”

Wilson said those that perceive FAMU as weak and suffering from a lack of leadership are sadly mistaken. However, he said students should be particularly concerned with this current state legislative session.

“There is a provision in the Legislature right now suggesting sending someone else over here to take over our (FAMU) finances,” Wilson said. “If you’ve got the money, you’ve got the University.”

Contact Nick Birdsong at famuannews@hotmail.com