President Ammons gives state of the university address

President Ammons met with members of the Student Senate Tuesday night to give a state of the university address. Called by the student body president Gallop Franklin, Ammons discussed Florida A&M’s budget.

Ammons notified students that they would come back to a university that would be extremely different next August if the projected budgets cuts were to happen within the next 60 days when the Florida Legislature meets.

“Since I began my presidency back in 2007, the legislature has reduced funding to the State University System of Florida by $577 million. For Florida A&M, it’s over $30 million that we have lost since 2007.”

The president said that these are “permanent cuts to the budget” that could not be restored anytime soon.

The legislature is discussing an additional permanent cut of 10-15% for not just the universities but all the agencies in Florida. “If these cuts materialize, we wont be able to afford to look like the university that we look like today.

Although layoffs look like they will be unavoidable for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010, he said preserving the academic integrity of Florida A&M still is the top priority.

President Ammons said the cuts in the past have been across the board, but now they have to come up with a strategic plan, a way where the university’s signature programs and institutions won’t be damaged. “We’re going to have to look at the multi-year approach instead of just one year.”

The university has released adjunct professors, put a hiring freeze on non-essential positions and a travel freeze on professors traveling. The university would have to use grant money to fund the trip instead of general revenue from the state funds. In addition, the university would have also cut expense funds from all of the divisions and go with the four-day work week again this summer.

President Ammons said we really have to thank President Obama for the stimulus package that gave Florida A&M $8 million in stimulus funding. “But after next year, the stimulus funding goes away as well. We were able to save 347 jobs with that $8 million.”

He showed bar-graphs and pie charts of the university’s revenue pitfall. Academic Affairs were giving 268 positions of the 347. “We wanted to make certain that the integrity of our academic programs would be protected,” said Ammons. “So now we are depending on temporary dollars to maintain all of our academic programs because we haven’t cut one program.

Ammons said although our accreditation with SACS is in good standing, the storm clouds are gathering once again. He urged the students to go before Governor Christ and everybody on the legislature because they want to hear their stories. Ammons said it’s imperative that they know the harm they’re doing to FAMU and other universities across Florida.

“You cannot sit this one out. Everybody needs to listen to you. They’ll listen to you! This is what we’re asking you to do as apart of your responsibility.”

In the wake of a crisis, Ammons pleaded with the legislative body to not become bitter and complacent. He told them they were on the front line; they see “those things that add value” and those things that don’t.

Asia McFarland, senate president of the 39th Student Senate, said president Ammons did a good job of letting the senate know exactly where the university is. “He gave all the up-to-date information about the university’s budget. He covered everything he knew about.”

Calvin Hayes, student body vice president, said the president’s urgency for student cooperation was very timely and important. “We have several town hall meetings, SGA Talks on the radio, word-of mouth, and senate meetings” to hear about ways to go before the legislature as a student body.

Senate meetings are Monday at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Union Building.