Students Voice Opinions on Restructuring ahead of ‘Day of Reckoning’

Today and tomorrow mark the big two days when the Board of Trustees will meet in Florida A&M’s grand ballroom to discuss and decide what programs will stay and what will be terminated. But as the meeting approaches, more students are voicing their thoughts about the proposed plans.

According to the schedule, members of the BOT’s Budget and Finance Committee will take up the restructuring proposal from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. today. The committee members will vote on recommendations, then, on Thursday, President James Ammons will present the proposal to the full board of trustees, which is expected to vote on the plan with little discussion. Most of the deliberations are expected to take place today during the committee meeting.

A couple students, who are the lone scholars in the department of psychology’s school psychology Educational Specialist degree program, are fighting against the proposed plans to cut the university’s program.

“If my courses aren’t offered in the sequence necessary, then I can’t move on to the next level,” said Nzinga Hamilton, a 2009 FAMU graduate.

Hamilton, who is enrolled the school psychology Ed. S program, as a first-year student along with Allen Pope, a Fall 2009 graduate, will be the last to graduate from the program if it is terminated.

But while Hamilton and Pope will graduate from the program whether the board decides to close it or not is not a victory for them. They wish to fight for the program for future student.

“This is not just about us. This is bigger than us. This is about the school psychology program continuing on,” Hamilton said. “My mom graduated from this program. It means a lot to me to be able to be in the same program.”

Hamilton and Pope were shocked to see that the school psychology program was among the 22 proposed programs on the chopping block due to low productivity.

“The only reason we have low-productivity for people not entering the program is because we have faculty members that are not promoting the program and are telling students that the program has been discontinued,” Pope said.

He learned firsthand that the faculty was claiming the school psychology Ed. S program had been cut. After going back and forth between faculty members to get information about the program, Pope said he was told that the program was discontinued. Fed up, he spoke with the head of the department.

“I spoke with Henry Williams and he said that faculty members don’t have the authority to discontinue a program or tell a student that information,” Pope said.

Later on, he received an emailed letter saying that he was accepted into his program of choice.

Both students said that they will fight to keep the program at the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, but they may not be alone as others expressed their displeasure of the proposed plans.

Coordinator of Language and Study Abroad Programs Mary Diallo has expressed strong opinion about what is being cut.

Diallo defended the foreign language program as it was up for elimination.

“Will the Hip hop Institute be eliminated along with the degree program in foreign language, and how does this support our mission?” Diallo quizzed Ammons during the campus forum on March 28.

Ammons said that his team looked at enrollments, number of degrees granted, the number of grant dollars that have been generated by faculty in those departments and they fell into a category of being low-productivity programs.