Critical BOT member opens up to press

If there is a microphone Barney Bishop wouldn’t like, introduce it to him.

The outspoken member of the Board of Trustees asked Governor Jeb Bush not to re-appoint him to another three-year term in an Oct. 10 letter.

With Bishop leaving the Board in January, it will lack, according to Bishop, its lone critic.

At the last Board of Trustees meeting held Oct. 6, Bishop said he is critical of the board and speaks out in the media, “because people ask me questions and that’s my opinion.”

Claiming Interim President Castell V. Bryant is sending only positive stories regarding the University to trustees, Bishop said he would like for all 13 trustees to be as informed as the six that reside in Tallahassee.

Trustees R. B. Holmes, Pamela Duncan, David Griffin, Faculty Senate President Mary Diallo and Student Government Association President Ramon Alexander all reside in Tallahassee along with Bishop.

As a representative of the Florida taxpayers, Bishop said his job as a trustee was to seek answers rather than cause trouble. 

Alexander said, “I think sometimes Trustee Bishop misunderstood his role as a trustee. He took some issues to the extreme by publicly addressing them.”

A sentiment Bishop readily agreed with.

He admitted he had to air some issues publicly in order to get answers to some of his questions. Most of his unanswered questions were directed towards Bryant.

“There is very little debate. They don’t want to ask a lot of questions-challenge anyone. To me that is not a Board of Trustees. No one should ever accept the status quo. People cannot be scared what someone is going to write or say about them,” he said.

Bishop said few changes occur until someone challenges the status quo.

“Trustee Bishop gave his time and effort to the University. It’s time for the Board to move on and continue to serve the student body at another level,” Alexander said.

Bishop agreed.

He said he sees no reason why there should not be hope for better days for the University.

“FAMU is going to survive and do well. I think there is every reason to believe FAMU will be an outstanding University.”

The Board is currently making changes about how members speak to the media on behalf of the trustees.

At the last BOT meeting, a proposal was made for a universal board spokesperson.

The spokesperson will speak with the media involving all things officially involving the board, but will not hinder any members from speaking with the media. 

“The spokesman will answer the basic information of the board, (but) board members will still be able to speak at large,” Alexander, 21, a senior political science student from Tallahassee said.

Saying the proposal was directly aimed at his active stance with the media, Bishop called it a veiled attempt to silence critics on the Board of Trustees.

In contrast, Director of Public Affairs LaNedra Carroll does not think a board spokesperson will infringe on the speaking rights of any of the trustees with the media.

“I would say all trustees still enjoy a basic right. (Bishop being outspoken) didn’t impact any press releases coming from my office,” Carroll said.

She said the official spokespersons for the BOT will be Chairwoman Challis M. Lowe and Vice-chairman Holmes.

Contact Will Brown at