Ammons and trustees embrace progression

Thursday, Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees held a short meeting at FAMU’s College of Law in Orlando.

The board discussed several significant challenges that the BOT and President James Ammons are facing.

Ammons provided a wealth of positive information regarding the university’s progress during his commentary.

“(We have) 92 percent completion of the areas that were identified in the operation audit and the finance audit at this point,” Ammons said.

Each school retained $1.3 million in revenue from the classic, according to Ammons.

He also mentioned that the National Alumni Association has already awarded $71,000 for the 2007-08 year in scholarships.

Ammons announced that the Tom Joyner foundation selected FAMU for the 2008 School of the Month, celebrating its 10-year anniversary for the foundation, which seeks money from businesses and other sponsors to provide scholarships for historically black colleges and universities.

Another topic in Ammons’ commentary was the recently submitted budget request for the 2008-2009 legislative priorities.

The board of governors identified three areas of focus for budget requests submitted by universities in the state university system.

However, two budget items did meet the requirements for approval by the BOG.

They include funding requests that would be used in phase two on the improvement of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and another $3.2 million for FAMU’s status as a land grant institution.

Ammons informed the BOT that he would prepare a letter to the chancellor, Mark Rosenburg, seeking a resolution for these items, as they are critical to solving accreditation issues.

“Our top priority was the $2 million request to start phase two of the pharmacy building construction,” said Ammons.

Trustee R.B. Holmes immediately asked the BOT to make a resolution supporting Ammons’ request for the funding of those two items.

One of the accreditation issues FAMU faces is space availability for students in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“Each year we receive 3,000 applications for the pharmacy program,” Ammons said. To complete the full design of the building he would need the $3.2 million that was mentioned in the budget request. “If we don’t get those dollars then pharmacy is almost on life support,” said Holmes.

A delay in the funding also causes the design of the project to be delayed for 9-10 months,” Ammons said. This would also affect the request date for the project’s construction.

In the Academic Affairs Committee report, nine students sought relief from a comprehensive exam causing trouble for some nursing students.

For the first quarter of 2007, the passing rate for the National Council League Examination, a state licensing exam, was 94 percent. The national average is 88 percent.

However, according to Linda Young, parent of nursing a student complaining about the exam, “students are having a lot of problems on the comprehensive exam.”

The exam is given at the end of the semester, two weeks before graduation. The test, administered instituted in 1984, prevents a student from graduating if they fail it twice-also

preventing them from taking the NCLE, the licensing exam.

She, along with other students who were present at the teleconference of the BOT meeting, believe the exam has several flaws.

“We don’t believe that the grading policy of the test is fair,” Young said.

It requires a 75 percent pass rate, while other tests given in the curriculum only require 70 percent. However, this is just one of the factors. “This test should be computerized because the instructors don’t adequately grade the test properly,” Young said. This allow groups of questions on the test to be eliminated. If some of those questions that were correct are removed, that causes students to lose credit.

Not every school in the Florida university system uses a comprehensive exam. Only two HBCUs require graduates to pass a comprehensive exam. Most use the standardized and computerized testing system.

Mary Ella Graham, dean of the school of nursing, some faculties are concerned that students may not do as well on the computerized exam as compared to the paper and pencil exam. “The current graduating class has voiced their concerns about changing to HESI and continue using the pencil,” she said. “I know the teacher made exam is more than 10 years old, they just want to make a right decision that’s right for everyone involved,” Graham said.

Students are still waiting on a decision from the BOG regarding this issue.