Ammons soothes student concerns

President James Ammons held his second President’s Forum of 2008 for students in Lee Hall on Monday. Ammons gave updates on the University’s counterproposal to recent state-mandated budget cuts and the University’s accreditation status.

At Ammons’ first presidential forum, he gave the news of changes the University will have to endure because of budget cuts. Since then, he, along with the University’s Higher Education Committee, has developed a plan that may lower the estimated 4 percent cut.

He updated students by telling them HED submitted a proposal to the Florida Legislature recommending a smaller budget cut than those recently proposed.

Ammons said the University is waiting for a response from the Florida Supreme Court before releasing further information.

Another subject Ammons spoke about that has concerned many students and faculty was FAMU’s accreditation.

The FAMU Task Force teamed up with Accretive Solutions Inc., a business firm located in Jacksonville, to correct issues identified in the operational and financial audits of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 

So far, 92 percent of the corrected action items in the plan have been verified and validated.

Task Force member Edward Penson, a higher education consultant, described FAMU’s improvement as “phenomenal,” and Ammons thanked the staff for completing work that normally would have taken years.

After mentioning the budget cuts and giving a SACS update, Ammons spoke about the importance of filing for financial aid. He said this has to be done on time to better serve the students and expedite the process of students receiving their reimbursement checks.

“March is the final month for all paperwork to be completed,” Ammons said.  “Failure to comply will result in a delay in the releasing of funds to students.”

Ammons stressed to students the importance of making sure parents are well aware of the University’s set deadline.

In other business, Ammons announced a new media policy that the Board of Trustees approved Feb. 12. This new policy is intended to improve media relations and the FAMU brand itself.

The policy encouraged administration, faculty and students to speak to the media in areas where they have expertise. This is an attempt to establish media protocol in case the public or the news media ever approaches a University attendee.

“The policy is not intended to infringe on freedom of speech,” Ammons said.

Concerning the Florida Classic and the news that Walt Disney will no longer be the lead sponsor for the highly anticipated annual event, Ammons explained that the University is in the process of building a similar event.

“The Florida Classic is a distinctive brand developed by Florida A&M University,” Ammons said. “We are building on our brand to build it bigger than it’s ever been.”

Although Ammons voiced his appreciation of Disney and their long-time support, he said he has asked Disney and other organizations not to bring other football games in to replicate what FAMU has created.

Students expressed their appreciation for Ammons giving them an update on University issues.

“It’s great that the president is open for question and answer so that we know what’s going on,” said Anthony Dowling, 20, a political science student from Indiantown.

Students also praised the administration for its hard work.

“Kudos to the Ammons administration,” said Vincent Evans, 19, a sophomore political science student from Jacksonville. “These forums continue to be a great opportunity for students. I wish more of us made it a priority to be in attendance.”