President’s forum examines key issues

Florida A&M University’s President, James H. Ammons, held a forum in Lee Hall Nov. 27, to speak to faculty, staff and students about the university’s status.

Various issues such as FAMU’s probation, the investigation of grade changes, tuition increases and the importance of having a full-time schedule were discussed.

Ammons made those in attendance aware of how important it is that FAMU turns in an audit to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in hopes that their probation period would end.

The university’s deadline to submit an audit to SACS is Nov. 29. “FAMU must turn in an audit in order to be considered at the December 8-11 annual meet,” Ammons said. “SACS will conduct a vote on Dec. 11 whether or not FAMU will stay on probation.”

Ammons also addressed the unauthorized grade changes. He mentioned that an investigation is underway to find and prosecute the culprit.

“This is very, very serious and the person or persons involved in the grade changes, we are trying to insure that they are prosecuted,” Ammons said. “This is something that cannot happen on this campus or anywhere else because it involves the integrity of the university.”

As stated by Ammons, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney’s Office are part of the investigation.

Although all of the issues are taken seriously, the one issue that many students commented on was when Ammons announced that there would be a tuition increase.

Ammons said that at the beginning of the new semester, in January, there would be a five percent tuition increase for those students in-state and those who are undergraduates. This means that students will be paying $3.68 more per credit hour.

“That increase is going to generate about $417,000,” Ammons explained. “One-third of that is going to Need-Based Financial Aid. For the other two-thirds, we are going to submit a proposal to the Board of Trustees to address the salary issues.”

Student Body President Monique Gillum opposes the tuition increase, but feels it can also work for the good of the student body.

“I’m totally against the tuition increase and everyone should know that. I was the only member on the board of trustees to vote against it when it came before the board,” Gillum said. “I think that it’s something we could not get around and rather we decided to pass it or not, it was going to happen. However, now that there is going to be a tuition increase, our job is to make sure we put the money in areas that will be most affective for our student body.”

Ammons also expressed the importance of students having full-time schedules; not only to have them graduate on time, but for FAMU to become better funded.

“We have gotten a report that shows that our students are taking on average, 13 credit hours,” Ammons said. “If you take less than 15 hours, it is mathematically impossible for you to graduate on time unless you go to summer school,”

Beside issues being discussed, Ammons also mentioned that FAMU would be donating toys to the Florida A&M Developmental Research School along with local community centers. This will be done on Dec. 12.

Students and faculty had their concerns addressed, and many of them appreciated that an update on FAMU’s status was given through the forum.

“I am very excited about it. Every one of the president’s forums that I have attended this year,” said Senate President Mellori Lumpkin. “I think Dr. Ammons has been straightforward with a leadership style we’ve been waiting on. He’s a leader that answers questions directly and is not afraid to confront things head on. I was extremely excited to hear about what we’re doing with the tuition increase.”

Ammons also expressed how students could become involved in solving FAMU’s issues.

“I think the main thing is for FAMU students to continue to be involved, to be fully informed on the issues and participate in the various forums and discussions that are here on the campus,” Ammons said.

“Also, we have a policy of making certain that every committee, where there are decisions that are made that impact student life here at the university, have student membership and to insure that those students who have been selected to be a part of the process actively participate in the workings of the committees.”