Bryant addresses hot-button issues

With just over two weeks left in the spring 2006 semester, The Famuan sat down with Interim President Castell V. Bryant to discuss ongoing university issues.

The status of Florida A&M University is something Interim President Castell V. Bryant said she can’t expound upon.

Unlike at the beginning of the fall 2005 semester when the good news was that FAMU was in the black financially, but still in a challenging state – now Bryant says the administration is just working on improving all areas of the university.

Bryant said it’s too soon to evaluate the results of the many changes implemented by administration leaders during the current school year.

“However, the university is still not operating in a deficit,” she said. The administration recently began monitoring the financial state of university quarterly.

Although the state legislature recently cut all college budget requests for the upcoming school year in half, Bryant said this may not affect FAMU because “we always ask for more in anticipation that they will cut something.”

A number of the same problems that existed when Bryant came into office still exist to some degree – and she says they’re a work in progress.

Deans to fill the open positions in large schools such as the School of Business and Industry, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy are expected to be found by July 1, Bryant said. She said having people in those positions will strengthen the individual schools.

But she’s not sure how the presence of interim deans is affecting the schools.

“There’s a myth that interims are not as good,” Bryant said. “There is also a myth that interim presidents can’t hire good people.”

The problem of hazing on campus is also an issue the university is dealing with. Bryant said the administration is working with all organizations and “we are going to get a handle on hazing because it’s a criminal act.”

But she said they also plan to work with students about hazing. She said students should have more self-pride than to accept abuse just to join an organization.

In a recent Tallahassee Democrat article, Bryant said a FAMU student commented that hazing is something students should be able to deal with to join an organization.

“It’s disturbing that students think so little of themselves,” Bryant continued. “You don’t have to be abused…nothing is worth that.”

Regarding the decrease in out-of-state students and the dip in enrollment during the current school year, Bryant said the administration is creating a new recruitment program and is also analyzing how out-of-state enrollment affects the overall student population.

The university is also preparing for the re-accreditation process. Last week, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accrediting commission, visited the campus and Bryant said they will return their report by mid-May.

After the university receives this report, she said they will continue preparing for the 2008 visit that will affect the university’s accreditation status.

Ultimately, Bryant said it’s too soon to analyze the results of the changes the administration has made this school year.

Many of the changes are still in progress. And some things that have improved may still need changes – just not the same ones they needed a year ago.

About FAMU’s future, Bryant said it would be unfair for her to impose her vision of the university when a permanent president enters the university, but she knows what she wants to accomplish before she leaves. Her contract with the university lasts until 2007.

“Once I leave, I want FAMU to be one of the best institutions in the country…an institution of choice,” Bryant said. “We won’t even be able to take everyone who applies.”

Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at