Bryant deserves credit for all that she criticizes

I wish you the worst kind of criticism for everything you do, because that makes you fight to achieve beyond what you normally would.” – motivational speaker Earl Reum

I was truly appalled but not surprised by the comments made by former Florida A&M University Interim President Dr. Castell Vaughn Bryant in a recent St. Petersburg Times article.

After two years of “service to Florida A&M”, she continues to function on fiction. Her actions send a terrible message to the University community, the state of Florida, and more importantly to the hardworking, intelligent and committed students of FAMU.

FAMU experienced its greatest fall from grace while under the perceived leadership of Castell Bryant.

At times Dr. Bryant was a perceived visionary, with a plan, but more often than not Dr. Bryant lacked the appropriate skills and abilities to lead a four-year university. No where else in the state would the Board of Governors have allowed such an under skilled and underdeveloped academician to take the reigns of an accredited and leading university like Florida A&M, unless the ultimate goal was certain destruction.

Dr. Bryant’s opinion of the student body is not rooted in fact, but rather in her lack of knowledge of and lack of communication with the student body of FAMU. The belief that one could lead an institution and never interact with students is a direct symptom of her unfit placement at the university. The caliber of students being educated at FAMU has been well documented:

-Misha Granado, a Spring 2007 graduate was selected as a Fulbright Fellow.-Cymeia Hill, a Spring 2007 graduate, was recognized by the Florida Health Information Management Association as the Outstanding Health Information Management student in the state.-Darius Graham, a 2006 FAMU graduate, was named by USA Today to the 2006 All-USA College Academic First Team.-The FAMU School of Nursing achieved a 94 percent pass rate on the national licensing exam that all of its graduates take to become registered nurses. The national mean score for the exam is 88 percent. -The Department of physics produced approximately 40 percent of the entire national production of African American Physics Ph.D.s this academic year. -University’s Department of Psychology has just been recognized as the number one producer of African Americans with baccalaureates degrees in psychology in comparison to other HBCU’s and among the top ten of all universities across the country.

Florida A&M is the stomping ground for African-American intellectuals, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, entertainers, legal scholars and the like.

Despite the baseless claims of Dr. Bryant, FAMU never had a qualified audit before her arrival nor had it ever received probation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In Bryant’s wake, FAMU has gone from surplus to deficit, an unqualified audit to a qualified audit, enrollment increases to enrollment decreases, from unconditional accreditation status to probation. The record is clear that Dr. Bryant deserves exclusive credit for everything that she now criticizes about the university.

In my opinion, the St. Petersburg Times must stop glorifying Castell Vaughn Bryant. Her days as this institution’s “leader” have come and gone.

In order to be considered a credible news source, the Times must begin reporting the facts about FAMU and not its own version of sensationalized fiction. While I have nothing personal against Bill Maxwell, I believe his opinion columns on FAMU have been textbook examples of poor journalism.

By accepting Bryant’s distortions and half-treading in an uncritical fashion, he makes a mockery of the news profession. I charge the St. Petersburg Times to write a story on what is really occurring at the University.

Dr. James H. Ammons is FAMU’s leader and is committed to FAMU remaining among the premier colleges in the state of Florida. For 28 months, we were in the dark, we are beginning to now step into the light. More than ever the students, faculty, staff, and administration are committed to “Excellence with Caring.”

Monique Y. Gillum is Florida A&M University’s student body president. Contact her at