Board welcomes Ammons, bids Agnew adieu

The Board of Trustees gave an official hello to the University’s new president, said goodbye to one of its board members, addressed payroll issues and opened the floor to a new committee during its Thursday meeting.

The highlight of the meeting came when the board approved James Ammons’ three-year contract with the University, which is planned to go into effect July 2.

After the approval, Ammons accepted the contract’s approval and was officially introduced to the board as the new University president.

“I accept this with optimism,” Ammons said. “With your approval, I feel and now know that it is my destiny to be the president of FAMU. Together as a team we will move FAMU to its rightful place in global education.”

During the meeting the BOT recognized Phillip Agnew, student body president, for his contributions to the board. The meeting was his last as a board member.

With appreciation, Agnew gave his final thanks and farewell.

“I owe a great a deal to this University, for when no one else would have me, she invested in me,” Agnew said.

The board then continued the meeting with the payroll issue that has plagued the campus.

Castell V. Bryant, interim president, made several remarks on the issue and the measures that are being taken to resolve it.

“There is always more than one reason to a problem; it’s not just one person to blame for unpaid faculty members,” she said. “It’s a matter of poor fiscal management and departments getting paper work turned in on time.” Yet a new problem has risen because some faculty members’ insurance policies are being cancelled.

“I received an e-mail from a professor saying that his insurance was cancelled after he paid his portion of the premium because FAMU did not pay theirs,” said Mary Diallo, associate French professor and board member.

Other members of the board suggested there be a workshop to discuss the overall payroll problems and put the problem to rest. Some members said there should be programs created to prevent a similar problem in the future.

“I think that the board needs to hold workshops to further break down what the problems are and how it is impacting to the faculty as well as the students,” Trustee William Jennings said.

Bryant, however, said there is no way to totally eliminate future payroll issues.

“Just as this is not the first time we have had this problem, it won’t be the last,” she said.

Another standout moment during the meeting was when the board started a new committee, called the “Giving Committee.” The committee was founded by Agnew.

Its goal is to secure a voluntary, annual monetary contribution to the University by each board member.

Every member on the board will be asked to submit a gift of $2,500 minimum each year, unless they are president of SGA or president of the faculty senate, in which case they will give $1,500 at minimum.

Contributions will be made to the FAMU Foundation Inc. still leaving each board member with the right to designate the source or recipient of his or her contribution.

The Giving Committee allows the potential to raise $30,000 a year and $152,000 over the course of five years, if each member gives the minimum contribution.

Because this was Agnew’s last meeting as a University trustee, he charged Monique Gillum, FAMU’s SGA president-elect, to take on the Giving Committee’s project.

“With this project I just wanted to leave something behind that says Phillip did this to help the University…to show that he really cares,” Agnew said.

Today’s meeting was a good start to understanding some of the issues at the University, and I’m very excited to start working with the board members and the faculty to begin making improvements,” Ammons said.