In order for FAMU to continue to nurture students, faculty must take a stand for strong, accountable leadership with a lasting presence and a strong vision.
As a graduating senior, I have come to the realization that I have witnessed the administrations of four different presidents in my four years at FAMU.
Only one of those presidents had staying power. Staying power is so important for the longevity and welfare of a university. It is only through consistent years of service that a university president is able to set a standard of excellence.
In my four years, there was Frederick S. Humphries in the fall of 2001, Henry Lewis served as interim president in the spring of 2002, Fred Gainous served as president from fall 2002 until fall 2004, and in spring 2005 Castell Bryant became FAMU’s interim president.
Out of that group of four administrators, Humphries was the only leader that had staying power.
As FAMU’s “Centennial President,” Humphries presided over a period that included record-breaking student enrollment, construction of new buildings, FAMU surpassing Harvard, Yale and Stanford in the recruitment of national achievement scholars and the University earning the title of “College of the Year” by Time Magazine and the Princeton Review.
At the end of his presidency, in the fall of 2001, Humphries still seemed like a man that was larger than life, literally and figuratively. Even after his presidency, Humphries is still considered an indomitable force on campus
The man that many people thought would be the University’s next permanent president was Henry Lewis. Before taking over as interim president, Lewis served FAMU as the dean of the College of Pharmacy.
In one semester, with the support of faculty and students, Lewis had strengthened relationships with deans, restructured FAMU’s financial aid process and streamlined the online registration process. These noticeable successes earned Lewis the respect of many in the FAMU community.
However, the Board of Trustees continued their presidential search process and named Fred Gainous the ninth president of the University. Gainous’ two and a half years as president were not free from speculation or incident. The FAMU community seemed split over whether the Gainous presidency would help or hurt the University.
After the termination of Gainous, the Board of Trustees keenly selected former FAMU board member Castell V. Bryant to lead the University through trying times.
Bryant has tried to cleanup financial problems and hold university officials accountable for their actions.
However, some faculty and staff do not agree with her moratorium on spending because it exemplifies micromanaging, it hurts programs that use grant money to survive, and it doesn’t tackle the fundamental problem of financial mismanagement by administrative officials.
FAMU has a rich history of strong leadership. However, some of our past presidents had many flaws.
They all dedicated themselves to ensuring that FAMU would live forever. The current financial instability at the University and the lack of permanent leadership has placed FAMU on the wrong course.
There is no reason why a student should have to experience a change in leadership four times in four years. It is time for faculty, staff, students, alumni, and all those who love this great university to make sure that they never let anyone destroy this historic treasure.
There is no need to complain and argue when the power to make FAMU great is in all of our hands. Make FAMU a priority, stand up for what is right, speak out against what is wrong, and make sure that the future permanent president of this illustrious university is competent, politically savvy, and dedicated to ensuring that FAMU will be around for centuries to come.
Malcolm Glover is a graduating broadcast journalism student from Bowie, Md. He can be reached at Malcolm2001G@hotmail.com.