Bryant responds to students

After a weeklong protest, on Friday students finally received the answers to some of their questions about the state of FAMU in a 14-page document released directly from the desk of Interim President Castell V. Bryant.

“Your questions and concerns have been reviewed with great interest and I have ensured that key University administrators and staff served as points of reference for the answers and information being supplied to you,” Bryant said in her letter addressed to student protester Kyle Washington, Student Body President Phillip Agnew and Student Body Vice President Monique Gillum.

Though students submitted nearly 350 questions to Bryant last week, she addressed 123 questions In the area of academic affairs, students in political science, chemistry and pharmacy asked why adequate numbers of summer classes were not being offered in their majors.

Bryant said the classes that are posted are comparable to class offerings in the past and that no major changes in course offerings, faculty or staff will occur.

Students also questioned the accreditation status of the college of pharmacy.

Bryant said the college of pharmacy remains an accredited program despite the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education’s placement of the program on probation until June 2008.

“We believe that our talented faculty and external resources will implement the changes and improvements needed for continued accreditation,” she said.

A major area of concern for students lied in the transfer of financial control of the FSU-FAMU College of Engineering into the hands of Florida State University.

Calicia Johnson, 21, a third-year mechanical engineering student from Detroit, told The Famuan last week, “I think that it’s a plot for FSU to take over the engineering school…it all started with the naming of the school after an FSU grad.”

Bryant said that control of the school does not lie in the hands of the University that handles the budget, but rather “the joint management council – comprising of the two university presidents, the vice presidents for academic affairs, administration and the dean (who serve ex-officio)- serves as the governing body of the college.”

Bryant gave a short response to the list of administrative questions from students.

“Florida A&M University has a mission like no other in the state university system,” she said. “Even though some changes may be on the horizon as Florida’s education leaders work to address increasingly tight budgets and a changing educational landscape, Florida A&M University will remain autonomous.”

In the area of money management, students were outraged that in the Auditor General’s preliminary audit report the University could not account for $39 million.

Bryant said FAMU is carefully studying its 35 findings and recommendations from the Auditor General and preparing a requested response.

“Our team has been working closely with the Auditor General’s Office to provide information along the way,” she said.

Student leaders were not fully satisfied with the way Bryant responsed to many of the students’ questions.

“I think it’s a start, but it I don’t think it’s enough,” said Gillum.

“I think she should still address students in a public forum.”

The remainder of the letter from Bryant addressed questions concerning the condition of campus food services, campus construction, student housing, public safety, campus parking, student recruitment and on-campus technology failure. Student questions will be further addressed in a Board of Trustees meeting today at 1:00 p.m.

“I think that hopefully we’ll see how the meeting goes to answer remaining questions,” Agnew said.

The telephone meeting is open to the public and will take place in the President’s Conference Room on the fourth floor in Lee Hall.