Top two SBI administrators resign from leadership roles

The School of Business and Industry’s Interim Dean Amos Bradford stepped down last week, just days after the school’s Interim Associate Dean Wilbur Smith resigned.

Bradford abruptly resigned but will continue to teach, according to a Nov. 23 press release from the Office of Public Affairs.

“I’m only surprised by the timing,” said Reginald Beal, an associate professor in SBI. He questioned why Bradford did not “put it off till the end of the semester.”

Some students share Beal’s frustration.

“I feel he at least owed it to the school to stay until the end of the semester,” said Robbou Rynes, 29, a senior business administration student from Newark, N.J.

Bradford’s resignation is effective today, just 16 days before the fall semester’s end.

The school has been without a permanent dean since June 2003, when former dean Sybil Mobley retired after 29 years.  

As dean, SBI founder Mobley served on several companies board of directors and was the first black woman on the board of Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Bradford was named interim dean three months after Mobley’s retirement. In his two years as interim, Bradford worked towards achieving accreditation for SBI a task that is yet to be realized. 

“I plan to lead the School of Business and Industry in a spectacular fashion,” Bradford said in a Famuan article shortly after accepting the position in September 2003.

However, some members of the faculty believe that Bradford did not do enough in recognizing the urgency of other issues plaguing the school. Bradford was unavailable for comment.

According to Beal, who also serves on the dean search committee, issues included lowered enrollment, organizational structure and a need to accelerate the dean search process.

The university has experienced declining student enrollment this year in comparison to 2004, having decreased by 877 students.

Possible causes of this decline have been attributed to questions about the future of the university, declining recruitment efforts and scholarship availability.

Some members of the SBI faculty and student body are also concerned with revising the organizational structure of the school. An organization’s structure determines how it categorizes and uses it’s resources.

“I think the program has been declining since Mobley resigned,” said Justin McLeod, 20, a junior business administration student from Washington. “However, since SBI has already had a prestigious name across the country it (the recent resignations) might not have a big effect on upperclassmen and people about to graduate.”

But McLeod said the lack of organizational structure could affect future students.

The search for a replacement has been ongoing but is now a more critical process because of Bradford’s resignation.

“I think they should look for somebody internally-someone who knows about accreditation and how to achieve it, and someone who has a lot of years under their belt at FAMU,” McLeod said.

The search committee consists of 15 members: three students, a representative from the FAMU alumni association and 11 SBI staff members. It has been operating since January 2003. The committee’s purpose is to research and evaluate potential candidates.

SBI faculty would not confirm that committee complaints precipitated Bradford’s resignation.

It remains to be seen if the lack of leadership will have an affect on corporate sponsors. SBI depends on its corporate sponsors to donate money and place students in internships and permanent positions.    

“Vacancies at the top show that our school has no stability,” said Rhynes.

A national search for a new dean is underway, according to the press release.

Until then, Provost Debra Austin assured students that “outstanding, committed faculty in SBI will continue to provide the quality education you expect and deserve. We will move ahead to select an individual to take SBI to the next level.”

Beal agreed. “We are looking for a leader to prioritize, take action and tell us (faculty) what we need to do.”  

Ebonie Ledbetter contributed to this article.

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